Chapter One - Polluted Food Upon My Altar “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. - Malachi 1: 6-8 (ESV) Malachi was a prophet living somewhere during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. This is during the time that the remnant returned to Jerusalem after the captivity in Babylon. While short in length, Malachi is one of the most frequently cited books in modern churchianity from among the Minor Prophets, entirely because of his reference to tithing in the third chapter. The result is that Malachi Chapter Three is one of the least understood books in all of the Bible. We will get there eventually, but let us start with the entire context of the Book. The first rule of Hermeneutics (fancy word for Bible interpretation) is context rules. This often flies in the face of many preachers today who wish to cherry pick Scriptures here and there to prove a pre-conceived point instead of expositing Scripture to see where the Holy Spirit leads. As we read through the proper context, we will discover there are many direct correlations for the would-be preachers of today that have little to do with tithing and everything to do with a loss of reverent fear for God from leadership. The book opens up with God speaking directly to the priests that rule in Israel. Not the people - the priests. This is vitally important because at no point in the book does the narration change. At no point does the Lord switch and start talking to anyone other than the priests. Those that were in charge of the spiritual leadership of God's people. Note the sad statement God has to make here. If I am the Father - where is my honor? If I am the Master - then where is my fear? The implication is quite clear. Those that would claim the mantle of following God should honor and fear Him. More importantly, those in charge of the spiritual leadership of His people should all the more honor and fear Him. Taking a glance along the landscape of modern Christianity today we do not see a leadership that operates with honor or fear of the Lord. We simply do not. We see a church that has been willing to compromise the true Gospel of Jesus Christ over and over again. A church that is more concerned with being hip and relevant to a dying world then they are with bringing the world the only way out - Jesus Christ. Too harsh? How does a "pastor" leading his church by serving iced tea and skittles as the elements of Holy Communion? How does a pastor of thousands invent things like "transportation blessings" to bilk his congregants out of their money to fix his helicopter? How does the most famous pastor in the country, with 45,000 attendees each week, consistently teach self help instead of God help? Read the key verses carefully beloved. Sometimes I have people ask me what the big deal is. The key verses explain that these people actually despise the name of the Lord! It seems like a big deal to Him! How have we despised your name they ask - by offering polluted food upon my altar. But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” = Matthew 4: 4 (ESV) Food is used constantly throughout Scripture as a metaphor for the Word of God. When we are first saved we are said to build our strength on the milk of the Word before moving onto the deeper "meat" contained in God's Word. Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life. When a pastor speaks in church he is indeed feeding the people of God. He is indeed making a sacrificial offering to God. In the Old Testament, the only way to atone for sins was through the sacrificial offering system God had set up. Under the new covenant however, Jesus Christ took the place of this system as the Lamb of God - the final atonement made for our sins. So instead of offering an animal for sacrifice, the preacher is offering the new covenant. He is offering the only thing that can cover our sins. He is offering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But what do we see being offered instead? According to God the priests were offering blind animals for sacrifice. A blind gospel will not lead to Jesus. The Prosperity gospel being preached in far too many churches today is a blind gospel because it does not lead people to Jesus. The people who sit under it have a distorted and inaccurate view of who God is. They think of God as a spiritual ATM. They combine this with the new friend of God theologies and poor man-centered worship music and the result is they serve a god who does not exist. They serve themselves. They serve their bellies. The key verses also see God saying that lame or sick animals are being offered for sacrifice. We must realize that the sacrificial system was crucial in the old covenant. The Gospel today is crucial for the new covenant. Without truly understanding our place as a sinner before a holy God and our need for a Savior in His Son - we are not saved. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1: 16 (ESV) You are not saved by a Gospel that sacrifices Christ in order to be more seeker friendly. You are not saved by a purpose driven church. You are not saved by a sick or lame gospel that talks more about social relevance then it does personal responsibility. You are not saved by a blind gospel that over-emphasizes grace and avoids dealing with the cold hard fact that we are sinners in the hands of a wrathful God. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will begreat 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. - Malachi 1: 11-12 (ESV) The world sees the pitiful antics on TBN and the Church Channel. They see these snake oil salesmen for what they are even when those who claim the mantle of Christ are being duped. When they bring forth their blind, lame, or sickly gospel they are actually profaning the name of the Lord! Those who sit under it also profane the name of the Lord. Those who turn the blind eye to it when they know better also profane the name of the Lord. The real food of the Lord becomes despised because of it. Many people do not want to hear the true Gospel because all they have seen is the false. The damage is real. Here is the conclusion of Chapter One of the Book of Malachi: 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: 13-14 (ESV) Isn't this what happens today when someone has the temerity to call out false teaching for what it is? They snort at it and say - what weariness is this? You're too serious! You're too legalistic! You're sowing disunity! Away with your weariness! We have money to make here - in the name of Jesus of course! And it doesn't matter if that name is profaned because of what they do. If you bring the Word of God in any form at all, I would take serious note of these concluding Words - which came from God directly to those in charge of the spiritual leadership of His people. Cursed be the cheat who has the real Gospel, swears by it, and yet compromises it in what they bring to the people. Think long and hard about that. This is not innocent. You see it is far easier to bring the sick and lame gospel. It is far easier to bring the blind gospel. These are the folks with the big mansions and cable TV deals. These are the ones who are deified by their flock. That is why God calls them a cheat. Because they know better. They know the true Gospel offends and they have chosen the path of least resistance. Who cares who actually gets saved? Who cares if there is polluted food on the altar of God? Who cares if the name of the Lord is profaned? God cares. You better believe that. God cares. Rev. Anthony.