The Problem of Shallow Worship
Malachi 1:6-14; 3:7-12; 4:1-6
Malachi is one of the “minor prophets” and records a part of Judah’s post-exilic history
The book is probably written by its namesake, Malachi
Malachi means “my (the Lord’s) messenger.”
Little is known of Malachi beyond this book.
Malachi was written after the Babylonian exile during the time of Persian control of Judah (Artaxerxes) while Nehemiah was governor (about 450 – 400 B.C.).
The style of the book is unusual; it consists of 27 questions and answers… a dialogue between God and the people addressing the nation’s failure, particularly the failings of the priests of God.
The time period would make Malachi contemporary with Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.
The time between the last book of the Old Testament and the New Testament is about 400 years (call the silent years).
Malachi calls into questions why we do what we do (worship, service, giving, etc.).
A verse that may define the attitude of those Malachi addressed is, “They profess me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
As we study Malachi, we would do well to question our motivations of service, and whether we are giving God something less than our best.
Shallow worship trivializes God’s greatness (Malachi 1:6-14).
Problem: Worship that failed to honor and fear (reverence) God; superficial worship.
Note: this section is addressed to the “priests.”
The priests not only failed in their worship, but failed to provide an example to the people.
Question: If you are following someone who is not going in the right direction how will you arrive at God’s destination?
Discuss: Is your church’s leadership (pastor, staff, deacons, teachers) leading by example how to walk in the ways of God? (Remember Paul’s admonition, Mimic my life for I am mimicking the life of Christ).
The sacrifices didn’t represent the best of what they had, but what they felt they could give up without any real cost to them … they were spiritual cheapskates/skinflints.
The outcome of what they were doing was to reflect in a negative way upon God. By their actions they were disrespecting God, and bringing reproach to the name of the Lord.
Verse 10 … God rejected what they were doing as worthless, a waste of time, and challenged them to just close the doors.
Discussion: What does God think of what we do for Him? Do you suppose He might be saying, you would be better off closing the doors than continuing a pretense?
Presenting to God your leftovers, what is second best, is a waste of God’s time and your’s … It is unacceptable to the Lord.
Considering who God is and what He has done for us should motivate us to give Him the very best of our lives as an expression of our love for Him.
See Romans 12:1 “I beseech thee, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto the Lord, which is your reasonable service (worship)”.
Five New Testament sacrifices:
1. Our bodies (Romans 12:1)
2. Our finances (Philippians 4:14-18).
3. Our praise (Hebrews 13:15).
4. Our works (Hebrews 13:16).
5. Our witness (Romans 15:16).
Shallow worship minimizes God’s worth (Malachi 3:7-12).
God through Malachi calls into question the failure of the Hebrews to give the very best to God (the tithe and the offerings).
“Return unto Me and I will return unto you …” God’s invitation and God’s assurance – repent and be blessed.
The failure to give God the prescribed (according to the Law) tithes and offerings was due to a heart problem … their love lacked depth … they loved what they could possess by robbing God … they had an evil “Robin Hood, mentality: rob God and give it to myself.
The lack of giving was an indication of their lack of faith in God to provide for them….
Discuss: Share a time when you gave sacrificially, or know of someone who gave sacrificially, and God responded in blessing.
Can you share a testimony of your commitment to tithe and God’s faithfulness to you.
Discuss: what is the difference between a tithe and an offering? What do you think the New Testament teaches about tithing?
Discuss: 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Shallow worship deserves judgment (Malachi 4:1-6).
The Day of Judgment is extended to include the disobedient Hebrews; those who fail to honor and reverence God by their actions
Too often believers convince themselves they are outside of the judgment of God … Paul wrote in Romans 14:12 “everyone one of us shall give an account of ourselves to the Lord …”
Judgment is coming to those who reject the Lord’s rule over their lives, while blessing is coming to those who live in obedience.
The final three verses of Malachi may be fulfilled in the coming of John the Baptist who preached repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…
God closes out the Old Testament with a warning (4:6).
Theological Theme: The greatness and goodness of God demands God be worshipped with a true heart.
Christological Theme: God gave His very best sacrifice for us, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jsus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Missional Theme: The believer’s worship shows the greatness of God to an unbelieving world.