Morning Musing: Malachi 2:3-4

“‘Look, I am going to rebuke your descendants, and I will spread animal waste over your faces, the waste from your festival sacrifices, and you will be taken away with it. Then you will know that I sent you this decree, so that my covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have several different expressions in English to convey that someone has experienced some kind of embarrassment. One is to eat crow. This phrase comes from the fact that if you have to eat crow, you can’t afford to purchase real meat. It is a humbling state of affairs to be that poor. Another expression is to have egg on your face. This one came out of a time when soft-boiled eggs were a common breakfast item. Men with beards would sometimes leave remnants of their eggy breakfast on their face, and without realizing it carry it with them throughout the day. How embarrassing to later discover you’d been wearing evidence of your morning meal so publicly! In His anger here over the empty and cynical worship practices the priests were allowing and even encouraging, God says He is going to leave something on their faces, but it isn’t egg.

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:12-13

“‘But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” And you scorn it,’ says the Lord of Armies. ‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

There is a genre of comedy I would call “office comedy.” Some of the more popular entries are the movie Office Space from several years ago and the more recent television show, The Office. Entries in this genre all carry the same basic understanding of work: It’s something you have to do because there are bills to be paid and we all like to eat. In this vein, work is a convenience to be sure. But other than the convenience of enabling us to, you know, live, it’s an enormous, soul-sucking inconvenience in our lives that gets in the way of all the things we’d rather be doing. In Malachi’s day–and in ours as well–people were taking the same approach in their thinking about their relationship with God. He wasn’t happy about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Zechariah 7:2-5

“Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer, Regem-melech, and their men to plead for the Lord’s favor by asking the priests who were at the house of the Lord of Armies as well as the prophets, ‘Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done these many years?’ Then the word of the Lord of Armies came to me: ‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh months for these seventy years, did you really fast for me?’”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever done something for someone a long time only to later discover they either had never noticed or didn’t want you doing it the whole time? That would be a frustrating experience to say the least. But, what if some point early on in your efforts, the other person had communicated her position to you in some way that you ignored? You ignored it and forgot about it and kept right on doing whatever it was. That changes things, doesn’t it? Now who were you really doing it for? It wasn’t her anymore. You were really doing it for yourself. Well, what if the object of this unwanted affection were to be God?

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Digging in Deeper: Malachi 1:8

“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.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

Malachi was the last prophet of the people of Israel until John the Baptist arrived on the scene to introduce people to Jesus some 400 years later.  In other words, he was the last word the people had from God for 400 years.  Ancient though he may be, his words could have been written yesterday they are so relevant to issues we are still facing today. Read the rest…

Morning Musings: Isaiah 1:16-17

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

This is a powerful call to righteousness and justice in its own right, but its context makes it even more powerful.  Take a minute to read again what comes just before this.  God essentially tells the people to stop worshiping Him.  Well, not exactly that, but close enough as far as they were concerned.

For the people of Israel, the worship of God was found in the rituals.  Having rituals be a part of our worship isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, where those rituals help focus our hearts and minds on the God to whom we are directing our attention they can be a very good thing.  But, it is easy to begin thinking that the rituals are valuable in and of themselves.  As a point of fact, they’re not. Read the rest…