“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations. Malachi 1:6–14
Malachi repeatedly refers to the NAME – which relates to the essence of who God is, especially His love and faithfulness to Israel. When you are reading the Old Testament and you come across the name Yahweh, which most English translations render as LORD in all capital letters, pay attention to the fact that this is not a title for God but the name by which He has revealed Himself to be in covenant with His people. Very commonly, God’s covenant with His people will be in view.
The fact that the LORD has brought us into His family through Jesus Christ, that He has covenanted with us in this way, ought to be the most important thing in our lives. It is why we sing “let goods and kindred go.” Nothing else should to be as central to our personal identities than this: “In Christ, I am loved by God with an everlasting love so that I am now and forever a member of His family.”
This means that to despise the Name of the LORD doesn’t require us to run around taking the LORD’s name in vain; despising the LORD’s name frequently involves simply taking that which is most weighty and treating it as though it were of little importance. This is what Esau did when despised his birthright – exchanging it for a bowl of stew. Sadly, many people throughout history, individuals who were privileged to be part of God’s covenant people, have turned away from the glory of the LORD for little more than that bowl of stew.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 31
Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.