Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.”
God made at least seven comments to Israel through Malachi, to which His people responded with haughty, indignant questions, challenging His wisdom and justice. God’s words were simple and true, but by that time in Israel’s history, they had been so badly taught by their ministers that even simple truth was too much for them to bear.
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I be a father, where is my honor? And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests that despise my name. And you say, Wherein have we despised your name?”
The men who demanded of the Lord, “How have we despised your name?” were the very ones teaching false doctrines and worshiping in ways that God hated. How can we become so blind? How can we be so wrong and yet, think we are so right?
One principal way that we can gradually become blind to the truth is to lose confidence in the Scriptures. God has graciously given them to us as a touchstone, to keep us from drifting too far from the right path. I know that we are to be led by the Spirit, but we all need something dependable that can confirm for us that we really are being led by the Spirit. The Bible can do that.
The men who incredulously asked “How have we despised you?” had read the Scriptures. They must have known that the way they were making sacrifices and worshiping God was contrary to the way God had revealed to Moses. The only explanation for their contempt for the revelation of the Scriptures was that they didn’t have confidence that the Scriptures proclaimed the right way to worship God. They did not have faith enough in their own Scriptures to obey them. God described their attitude toward the commandments of the Law this way: “You have departed out of the way; you have caused many to stumble at the Law; you have corrupted the covenant” (Mal. 2:8).
One cannot be rightly led by the Spirit and ignore or have disrespect for the holy Scriptures.
While we need the Scriptures, merely having them is not sufficient. We must have enough faith in their veracity to live as they say righteous people live. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” because without faith, we cannot believe that the Scriptures He has given to us really do reveal the one narrow path to eternal life.
New Testament believers despise God’s name when they despise what He has given to us to show us the way. In the Old Testament, He gave His chosen people the Law. The Law came in the name of the Lord, and to despise it was to despise the name of the Lord. In this New Testament, God has given us His Spirit. The Scriptures themselves tell us this. No one can understand the Scriptures and believe them without seeking and receiving the holy Ghost baptism because that is what the Scriptures tell us to do. Whoever refuses the holy Ghost and its light is despising the name of the Lord because the holy Ghost came in his name (Jn. 14:26), just as the Law once did.
I am sure there are multiplied thousands of ministers today who would respond to Malachi as those ancient false teachers did, and say “How have we despised your name?” But whenever a man teaches that the holy Ghost baptism is not absolutely necessary for salvation, he is despising the very thing God sent in Jesus’ name to save us. To teach that the holy Ghost is not essential for salvation is the equivalent of an ancient Israelite priest teaching Israelites that they did not need to obey the Law of Moses in order to be saved. But the Law is the very thing that made the Israelites the special people that they were to God. Without the Law, there would have been no Israel. Likewise, it is the holy Ghost baptism now that defines God’s people. Without it, God has no people on earth.
The Old Testament leaders of Israel did not understand that when they placed unclean things on the Lord’s holy table in the temple, they were polluting the table and despising their God (Mal. 1:7). Moreover, they must not have believed that they really were required to offer physically perfect animals in sacrifice to God, even if Moses said so (Mal. 1:8). They must not have felt privileged and blessed to be given the opportunity to be God’s priests, for they saw their office principally as a way to gain earthly wealth. None of them would have so much as shut the doors of the temple without being paid for it (Mal. 1:10). They considered the rules that God gave Moses for worship in Israel to be wearisome (Mal. 1:13). And to them, a female animal was just as good as a male animal in sacrifice, regardless of what God in the Scriptures demanded (Mal. 1:14).
My friends, if God says to worship Him in a blue shirt on Tuesdays, then we had best worship Him on Tuesdays wearing blue shirts. We do not get to make the rules. When Jesus said that the Father must be worshiped “in spirit and in truth”, he meant exactly that -- the Father must be worshiped “in spirit and in truth”. That is God’s revealed way to worship Him acceptably in this New Covenant. Every other manner of worship is an affront to God’s holiness. Every other way of worship shows contempt for His name.
Let us, then, be wiser than the men who refused to be thankful for God’s revelation and made up their own rules for worship. If you have heard what is right about God, you have been blessed. We have every reason to be thankful, if Jesus has loved us and taken us out of the dark and shown us how to serve the Father acceptably. If we refuse that simple, pure way of holy worship, we are despising the name of the Lord, regardless of what we think about ourselves and our revered leaders.