Today’s readings.. (Job 39), (Malachi 1), (Revelation 17,18),
Malachi is the last prophet God sent to his people Israel before John the Baptist and Christ came on the scene. After Malachi there is silence in Israel, no inspired man from God appears. Of course the records of the messages of the prophets are available; indeed they are carefully preserved as we can see from the discovery of so many scrolls in the caves by the Dead Sea in 1947-50. So was there anything significant in the message God sent through the last prophet? The first half of his short book is a lament by God that the people only give in sacrifice to him what we might call the ‘leftovers.’
The prophet’s message is, “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, yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.” [Malachi 1:13,14]
Have these words any application today for those who say they believe and serve God? It certainly has! While there is no temple for us to bring our offerings, there is a spiritual temple. Paul wrote, “we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will make my dwelling among them …” [2 Corinthians 6:16]. Paul made the same point to the believers at Ephesus saying that, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:22]
Gatherings of believers must sense the wonder of this happening, the wonder of God’s involvement in their lives. But do many only give to God the leftovers of their time today? Do some feel, as we read in Malachi, “What a weariness this is” [Malachi 1:13] when they feel obliged to find some time to use in a spiritual way. God even felt it would be better if someone “would shut the doors” to the temple so they “might not kindle fire on my altar in vain.” [Malachi 1:10].
So if we only give to God our ‘left over’ time will not God also say of us, “I have no pleasure in you … I will not accept an offering”. If we struggle to fit in time, and often do not succeed, in joining with fellow believers in acts of worship and in the reading and study of God’s word, will God not have the same attitude toward us as he did in the days of Malachi? If we make a New Year’s resolution on this how quickly will it be broken? It depends on how well we sense the presence of God and the climax of the book of Job gives us a lesson on this.