Friday, January 23, 2015

Malachi Rebukes the Priest’s Polluted Offerings

¶A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts.
10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.  (Malachi 1:6-10)

This block of verses describes a number of ways the priests of Malachi’s day were polluting their service at the temple.

Their contempt for the service they did was the main problem because it led to them giving low quality offerings instead of their best.  Malachi challenged them on whether they thought low quality gifts to a human ruler would receive commendation, and it should have been obvious that if the governor were insulted, God certainly would be.

These comparisons are still useful today.  Do we have contempt for our callings or priesthood service?  If we were to go to our temporal jobs where we make a living and have a bad attitude there, can we imagine our employers being pleased?  Is God any different?  We may think He will not mind, but His greatness and mercy is worthy of our finest and purest devotions.

Malachi reminds the priests that they are the ones who are supposed to intercede for the people and he asks whether God will listen to their prayers if they have polluted their service.  Good question..

Malachi also asks the priests who among them would be so devoted to the service of God that they would “shut the doors” of the temple or “kindle fire” on the altar for nothing (not receiving any part of the offering).  If they would do it even if they didn’t partake in the offerings, then their hearts would be where they should be and their service would be devoted. 

Today our service is without charge, but we still need to be sure that the gift of our service is done with a willing heart, otherwise it is as polluted as Malachi spoke of.

Also, there is the principle Mormon shared in Moroni 7:

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. (Moroni 7:6-8)

I noticed about a month or two ago that my service was starting to get a little robotic, just going through the motions.  I’m trying to better at that, to think of it as an offering and to go into it whole-heartedly, rather than with apathy.  It’s taking some effort, I can tell you.  But I try because I anticipate that great spiritual blessings will come from it, and I want those blessings, particularly greater closeness to God.