“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’s second disputation runs all the way from 1:6 through 2:9. It would be helpful for you to read this entire disputation as a whole, but due to the length of this disputation, we are going, LORD willing, to study it in two sermons. Thankfully, there is a pretty clear place to divide the passage at the end of verse 14.
Commenting on verse 10, Allen P. Ross writes:
Now the prophet declares the word of the LORD in the form of a strong wish: “O that someone would shut the doors so that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain.” It would be better to lock the doors of the temple and keep the people out. If they continue to worship this way, then the fire they light on the altar will be worthless and their effort in vain. Clearly God would rather they repent and worship correctly; but if not, it is better not to worship at all.
Corrupt worship is another sin. The purpose of shutting the doors would be “so that you do not light my altar in vain.” The word “in vain” is the adverbial spelling based on the word “to be gracious” [which Malachi has just used]. It forms a powerful word play: seek His grace or your worship will be gratuitous (vain). … Their corrupt worship would be pointless, for no good reason, a waste of time. God takes no pleasure in worthless worship; in fact, He rejects it! If people do not worship properly with love and devotion, but only out of compulsion to follow a ritual, their gift will be worthless, and their activities counted as sin.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 24
Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.