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Malachi L, 6-11; 77/., 8-12 The prophet reproves the people for their lack of loyalty and faithfulness to Jehovah. He had treated them as a father, but they had not given Him a father's love and honor. *'A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I am a father, where is Mine honor? and if I am a master, where is My fear? saith Jehovah of hosts unto you, priests, that despise My name." Everywhere dishonor to parents is branded as a grievous sin. One who treats a parent unkindly or with neglect may have many virtues and do many things well, but the one sin dims and blots all. One of the papers tells of a woman at an old man's coffin. She kissed him and wept over him. She told the people how good he was. He was old and poor, and she was young and rich. She had ten rooms, but no room for her father. Yet he made room for her when he had only two. He was not educated. She was, and at his expense. He had fed and clothed and sent her to seminary and college until she grew refined and popular and married a rich man. Now she kissed him and cried by his coffin and buried him 314
MALACHI L, 6-11; III., 8-12 315 handsomely. But everybody said this did not make up for her want of kindness in the years of
his old age. God is our Father. This revelation was made in all its fullness by Jesus Christ. We all love to say that He is our Father, and to talk of His wonderful goodness. Yes, but that is not all the honor we ought to give to such a Father. We ought to hallow His name, to advance His kingdom, and do His will. Does not God many times say to us, *'If I am a father, where is Mine honor?" The people presumed to contend with God, claiming that they had been true to Him. *' Wherein have we despised Thy name?" Then we have Jehovah's answer, *'Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar." Still they deny to God that they have in any way dishonored His name or His service. ''And ye say, Wherein have we polluted Thee?" The answer is, ''In that ye say, The table of Jehovah is contemptible." We may as well look at our own conduct while we are hearing God's charges against His ancient children. That is true Bible reading which allows the words to search our own heart and life. We should never offer to God that which we would not use ourselves. Are not too many of our selfdenials only the giving up of things which we do not care for? Do we not too often keep the best for ourselves and then let God have what we do not wish?
316 LESSONS IN GIVING Tlie priests had been offering on tlie altar of Jehovah sacrifices which were not worthy of His holy name. ''And when ye offer the blind for
sacrifice, it is no evil ! and when ye offer the lame and sick, it is no evil! Present it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee? or will he accept thy person? saith Jehovah of hosts.** The Jewish law required that every sacrifice offered unto God must be without blemish. No lame, blind, or diseased animal would be accepted. It was an insult to God to bring to His altar anything that was maimed, blemished, or worthless. Yet the people had been taking the best of everything for themselves, and then bringing the refuse, blind and lame animals, and such offerings to God. ** Suppose you treat your governor thus,'* asked the Lord, ''what would he think? Would he be pleased?** Well, how is it again with ourselves ? The object in putting this verse in the Bible was not to get us to condemn the people who lived twentythree hundred years ago ; it was to make us think whether we are doing this mean thing ourselves. Do we give God the best of all we have, our best love, our best gifts, our best service? Or do we take the best of all for ourselves, and then give God the blind, the lame? How many people in the church when the collection plate is passed, pick out the smallest bit of money, or a soiled or torn bill, or a coin with a hole in it, to put on the plate? We give our strength to our own work
MALACHI L, 6-11; III., 8-12 317 or business, and then have only our weariness to bring to God. We do our first work for ourselves, and then have only things which are of no value for our King. What kind of service are we giving to our glorious Lord?
The Lord's answer to the arrogant defense of the priests is startling. *'0h that there were one among you that would shut the doors, that ye might not kindle fire on Mine altar in vain I 1 have no pleasure in you, saith Jehovah of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand." People sometimes ask, with a sneer: *'Is there any one to hear you when you pray? Is there any to accept the worship you bring?" The Lord says plainly here that there was no one to accept what these ancient worshipers brought. It is said frequently in the Bible, referring to offerings, that God smelled a sweet savor. That is, sincere worship is like fragrance to God. An old Jewish fancy is that an angel stands in heaven to receive the prayers of earth, and that they turn to roses in his hands. But God assures these ancient worshipers that He has no pleasure in them and will not receive the offerings they bring. This is because they bring Him such unfit and unworthy sacrifices. What do we bring to God when we go through the forms of prayer, when we sing the sacred words of our hymn, when we make our offerings, when we have our ' * consecration meetings, ' ' when we sit down at the Lord's table? If there be only
318 LESSONS IN GIVING words, words, words in all our acts of worship,— no heart, no love, no real presenting of ourselves to God, no laying of our best on the altar,— God has no pleasure in us and will not accept our offerings at our hand. ''God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.''
In the third chapter the prophet prophesies the coming of the Messenger of the covenant and the beginning of His sifting work. The people were suffering from divine judgments. The reason for these was that they had not been faithful to God. They are asked to return, and they ask, ''Wherein shall we return?" The Lord charged them with having robbed Him. "Wherein have we robbed TheeT' and the answer is, "In tithes and offerings." It seems incredible that any one should rob God. It is terrible enough that one man should ever rob another man; and how can any one rob God? Yet the Lord said these ancient people of His had been robbing Him. How? They had not broken into heaven and stolen the gold, silver, and precious stones from the walls and streets. They had robbed God by keeping back from Him the gifts they ought to have brought to Him. They had not paid their tithes, they had not brought the required offering. Not paying what we owe is robbery. Do we never rob God? Of course, we do not break open church boxes and steal money that has been given to God. But do we never fail to
MALACHI I., 6-11; III., 8-12 319 give to God what belongs to Him? Think of all the promises we make to God in our hymns and prayers. Do we keep them all? We promise to obey Christ and serve Him always, cheerfully, promptly, lovingly. De we do it? We promise to love our fellow-men and to be kind, patient, and helpful to all. Then we go among men with jealousy, envy, bitter feelings, keeping back the love and the ministry of love.
Perhaps we are robbing God even in the matter of money. Are we paying all the tithes, all we owe to God? Some one tells of a man who, speaking of the freeness of the gospel, said he had been a Christian for twenty years, and it had not cost him a penny. There are too many people whose religion does not cost them half enough. They rob God, keeping out of His treasury what is His and spending it on themselves. Bobbing God brings a curse. An eagle stole a piece of lamb off the temple altar and flew with it to her nest on the crag. But a coal clung to the meat and set fire to the nest and consumed it. So a curse clings to everything stolen from God or withheld from Him, and brings its penalty. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
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