Text: Mal 1-4
Summary: God is your Father so HONOR Him and He is your Master so FEAR Him.
6 “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?’
Father, we just ask that you would teach us how to honor you as Father. Because we’re children and we’re all children of God, we want to honor you properly as Father. We are also servants of God. And you are our master and we want to learn how to fear you as master. Give us a check in our hearts. We want the right attitude in our hearts. And from the right attitude, we pray that the right actions may flow. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
I want to talk today about attitude and actions. I think the actions are important but actually the attitude is way more important. Because if you fix the attitude, the actions will also be fixed. And the attitude of Israel toward God is described here as despising, it says in v.6, that the priests despised God’s name. And when you despise God’s name, you’re saying, it is so low, it is so unimportant. It is almost irrelevant. It is so low on my list. God’s name is so low on my list. And that is the attitude of these priests.
And Malachi begins with God saying to the people of Israel, I have loved you. And the people ask, how have you loved us? I wonder how many of us also have that same dilemma. That the Lord says, I’ve loved you. And we say in response, but how have you loved us? Because when we think of love, we might think God gives us everything that we ask for. And we go into God’s presence with an attitude, with a complaining heart. We don’t give thanks. And underlying this is an attitude of, God, how have you loved me because I have asked for all these things but you haven’t given it to me? And today I think God wants to fix our attitude.
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated.
And God’s election and predestination and human free will, it’s a question that no human being is smart enough to figure out. It’s one of those things we just have to understand there’s a tension here, we don’t quite understand how to explain it. But one thing that when you reread Genesis 25 is that it says, that the one shall be stronger than the other. And the older shall serve the younger. It doesn’t say anything about salvation. It doesn’t say anything about God saying from the beginning, I hated one and I love the other. It doesn’t say anything about that. It just says that God appointed and God’s lot for these two infants, is that the older will serve the younger.
And then you look at places like Romans 9 when it talks about election, again it doesn’t say anything. Let’s look at Romans 9:11.
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
And again, here it says nothing about election in terms of one was destined to go to hell. One was destined to go to heaven. It just says that the older was to serve the younger. And then there are several sins of the people of God. Let’s go back to Malachi. The reason why God starts with the discussion about Jacob and Esau, is that He’s saying to the people of Israel, you are Jacob. You are loved.
As long as you do not act like Esau and outright reject God, and I don’t think there’s anyone in this room, or on this call, who has outright rejected God. That means we are in the Jacob camp. That’s God’s argument, you are loved. But how many of us wake up feeling and experiencing and testifying and agreeing with God, that we are loved? Actually, don’t we often murmur under our breath, and the underlying attitude is, God, how have you loved us? How have you loved me? When did you come through for me? I’ve asked you for this and this and this. You haven’t given it to me. I don’t think you love me. You must hate me. I must be in the Esau camp.
And God is saying clearly at the outset, you are Jacob. All of the nation of Israel, you are Jacob. Everybody here who has not rejected Christ, you’ve either accepted Him, or you’re on your way to accept Him, you’re in the camp of God saying, you are loved. That’s why he begins with Jacob and Esau. And then He exposes the attitude, the people’s attitude as they despise God. They don’t honor Him, they dishonor Him. And then all the actions flow. And let me go to the actions first and then we’ll circle back to the attitude.
7 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. 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. 9 And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great 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. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 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.
And how are the people of God despising the name of the Lord? They are bringing lame, sick, diseased animals with three eyes or two legs, they’re bringing these types of animals to the Lord, and they think the Lord will not notice. It’s like would you invite Governor Newsome to your house, I don’t know if you’re a fan of Governor Newsome, but let’s say you invited him to your house, would you give him leftovers? Would you give him food that’s already been spoiled? Because obviously to a person who you want to impress, you would bring out your best.
And God says, why do you not bring out your best? The attitude is revealed through the action, and God sees it. If you give your second best, if you hold back your best, if you give leftovers, God sees it. If your heart is reserved for somebody else, and you’re giving Him the leftover portion of your day and your time and your energy, God sees it. And then in Malachi 2, He says another sin of the people.
13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.
And here, God’s people are divorcing, especially the husbands were divorcing their wives because there was a cuter woman that they saw. And this woman was following a pagan god and they married this woman. And here he just breaks down what God desires in every marriage and in every household. He says, first of all, that God gave you a portion of His Spirit to make husband, wife, Christian husband, Christian wife, bringing them together to make them one.
See this is a spiritual union, this is not California State saying, I pronounce you man and woman, husband and wife. No, this is God ordaining a believing husband and a believing wife coming together, and God gives a portion of His Spirit, additional help, so that this godly couple can become one. And it’s not only that, it’s through the pure seed of the man and the pure seed of the woman coming together, that there is a pure seed of offspring. God is very much interested in a strong home. He wants a husband to be strong, a woman to be strong and to come together, and raise godly offspring.
So if you are single, the only thing that you have to discern, well there are two things you have to discern. One is, the person that I’m interested in marrying, are they a Christian? Are you sure that they’re a Christian? That is step number one. If you’re not sure about that, you cannot proceed. That is the requirement of God. Anybody you’re interested in, it is not just because they look good. That cannot be your criteria. The criteria, the only criteria, the first criteria that matters is, are they a believer? Are you sure they’re a believer? Do they have a testimony? Can they talk about their faith in a meaningful way? Is Jesus a person to them, or is Jesus just a doctrine?
You can tell when you fellowship with that person after a few days, or certainly after a few months, you can tell. You don’t have to try it out for years. You can tell if that person is a true believer or not. And that is step number one. The second step is, among all the potential believers, is this the one that God has prepared for me? If you meet those two criteria, you will have a blessed married life, and God will bless your offspring.
And I don’t know if there’s any more lofty assignment for a father and mother, than to labor for what God is interested in when He brought the two together. He’s interested in godly offspring. That means you have to invest in it. That is what God is looking for. After 18 years, He’s going to say, okay, did you do a good job? Not that you sent them to Harvard, that is not what it means. Maybe if it’s an Asian god, that’s what an Asian God would be looking for. But if it’s our Heavenly Father, the only thing He’s looking for is, are they godly? Are they on the path toward godliness? Do they know how to say no to ungodliness? Do they fear the Lord? Do they turn away from evil? Then, mom, dad, you’ve done a good job.
8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
And here, the attitude of God is expressed in the action of what we do with God’s money. First, you have to believe that every cent that you earn is one hundred percent God’s money, down to the last penny. You have to first believe that. And then you steward it. First, you steward it by offering a tithe. And I’m going to explain this not because I want you to tithe more to the Hill. I just want you to be blessed by the Lord. And here is one of the ways that God will bless His people. You give your full tithe, and this is 10%. So I already know America is not blessed spiritually by the Lord because the vast majority of God’s Church in America tithe on average 2% to 3%. And I think the 2% to 3%, is because there are a handful that tithe 10 plus percent. And then the rest barely tithe anything, and so the average is 2% to 3%.
So there are those who are fully blessed by God, and those in whom God’s blessing has been removed. And it’s the tithe that is the beginning. It’s the starting line in terms of how we steward God’s finances. We offer God the 10% of the firstfruits of everything we make pre-tax. We give it all to the Lord. We say, in me believing that this money is from you, I am going to offer you 10%, even before Uncle Sam collects his portion. I’m going to give you 10%, it’s my tithe to the Lord.
If you’re a millionaire, and you tithe, then I don’t think necessarily that you are stewarding His money wisely. Because you will still have $900,000 plus to do however you please. But the Lord, that’s why He says tithe as a step one. As a step two, He says, offerings. And so the more wealthy you are, you should not just check it off your list and say, well, I’ve tithed, and then the rest of the money is mine. I’m going to spend it however I want. No, the more you have, the more responsibility God is giving to you to steward it. And so we begin with a tithe. If God has blessed you with far more than you need, and there’s extra in the bank account, then He says, then there are contributions, or offerings.
And so ever since I got hired at Biola, now every month I’m praying, Lord, okay the tithe I give to you, but I have excess, where do you want me to give offering? Who needs this offering? It may be a family member. And so this is not a rule, like the Pharisees tried to make it a rule and they introduced new traditions. And Jesus is calling them out and saying, you say you honor your father and mother, and yet your elderly parent needs money and you’re not giving it to them because you introduced this new doctrine that says all the money is reserved for God and His purposes. And God says, you’re a hypocrite. This is a doctrine of man. You’re so wicked. You’re so evil, that you don’t care for your father and mother in a financial need because you’re so greedy for yourself.
And so this is not a blanket that all of our money should go to the church or to missions. No, if there’s a family member in need, it is your responsibility, especially your parents if you honor them to care for them financially. So these are the actions that God is looking at, but all of these actions stem from an attitude. It’s an attitude of, God doesn’t see that I’m bringing an animal with three eyes. He doesn’t see that this meat is spoiled. He doesn’t see that I’m withholding the offering, and I’m not giving a full tithe. He doesn’t see it. You’re despising God. You’re saying, God, you’re so small. And on top of that the attitude is even worse that we say God you don’t love me.
Because you look at the list of things that we’re asking for. Instead of being grateful for so much blessing, we give attitude to the Lord, and say you haven’t answered me. Because I’m asking you for a promotion, you haven’t answered me. I’m asking for a spouse, you haven’t answered me. And you have a whole list of things that the Lord hasn’t done for you. And you go into His presence, like a two year old throwing a tantrum.
Why do we enter the Lord’s presence on our knees? Because we’re honoring Him as a Father. When I tell my boys to do something, they may do it but if their attitude is wrong, I am not pleased. They may drag their feet and do the chores but if they are complaining under their breath, if they’re slow in obeying and they’re rolling their eyes, and if they’re getting this attitude through facial expressions or through their bodily slowness in obeying, I see the attitude, and the Lord sees it. I can see it as a flawed, finite earthly father, how much more, the Heavenly Father sees everything. He sees the attitude with which you approach Him.
Of course, because of Christ we have confidence. Of course we can approach confidently. But at the same time, if you’ve been walking with the Lord, you cannot approach Him as a two year old throwing a tantrum. If you’ve been walking with the Lord for a number of years, you cannot approach Him this way. In the beginning, like Dongyoon and Elaine and baby Micah, everything he does, they’re going to applaud. I hear it from my window. I hear Elaine’s voice every morning the fact that Micah is using a toilet or whatever. He’s getting a lot of praise because he’s only a two year old.
And so you live with a tantrum, you give a lot of praise, and God our Father is the same way. If you’re a newborn Christian, He’s going to give you a lot of praise, a lot of encouragement. But some people think that’s how it is until we see Christ. That’s how it’s going to be 50 years later, that we’re still in our diapers and God is happy as a eighty year old that we’re still in diapers. But God is not happy that as an eighty year old walking with the Lord for decades, that we’re throwing a tantrum as if we’re a two-year-old. He expects growth. And so in the beginning it’s true, you come as you are. You come immature, and God encourages you. He rewards you. He lifts you up. He’s raising you up as a child. But by the time you’re a teenager, by the time you’re an adult, 20 years old, 30 years old, walking with the Lord, He expects maturity.
And so when we enter into God’s presence, if you do not despise Him, if you have a proper respect for Him, you will bow the knee and honor and revere Him. As a Father, as children of God, our Father wants us to honor Him, meaning you enter into His presence with thanksgiving. You enter with thanksgiving, not a long laundry list of things that in your mind proves that God doesn’t love you because He hasn’t answered these things. God doesn’t owe anything to you.
If you are a believer or on the path to receiving Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, would it be okay with you, if God doesn’t answer any more prayers? You’re not entitled to it. He’s not obligated to answer your prayers. If he’s giving you Christ, that is the greatest gift, and there’s nothing more that He has to give to you. And would you be content with that? It’s our greed that makes us discontent. And we enter His courts instead of with thanksgiving, we enter with grumbling. With all this list, we don’t we don’t bow on our knees, yes we come confidently but we are throwing a tantrum as a 45 or 46 year old. It is not proper for us anymore.
We honor Him, instead of despising Him, instead of thinking lowly of Him, we honor Him. We revere him as Father. We give thanks, even if He doesn’t answer any prayers. Just the fact that He’s given us Jesus, and we’re saved, and we’re a child of God, can we thank Him? Don’t we have enough to thank Him for the rest of eternity? If He doesn’t answer any prayer on this side of eternity, don’t we have enough to be joyful, to be content, to suffer, to endure, because we have all that we need in Christ?
So look over your prayer life. Yes, we ask for things. But we’re not asking, trying to prove that God doesn’t love me, unless He answers. We don’t come with that kind of an attitude because God sees it. If your attitude is, I’m frustrated because I prayed for this thing, I prayed for this person’s salvation for decades, it’s not coming. I’m angry with you, God, I’m upset with you. I’ve asked for this, you’re not answering, you’re not coming through. God sees it.
We should humble ourselves, honor God and say thank you for salvation. Thank you for Jesus. If you don’t give me anything else, I’m happy with that. We honor Him, and that’s how we honor Him as Father. More than the actions, He sees the attitude. Let’s not give our Father attitude anymore. Let’s be grateful to Him.
On top of that, we are to fear Him as Master. And people don’t like talking about fear of the Lord, and they like to say it’s reverence, it’s not fear. But I would say reverence is with honor. No, we already talked about honoring and revering the Lord, He’s not low, it’s not a despising of the Lord’s name but we lift up His name. We’re already revering Him, that’s our attitude of honoring Him. We’ve already talked about that. But when it talks about fear, the word is terror. There’s a reason why when God comes into the presence of the prophets of the Old Testament, there’s a reason why they fall flat on their face. It is a terrifying thing to come into the presence of God.
And that is why we fear Him as Master. Even in the New Testament, John in Revelation, just seeing an angel, a messenger of the Lord, is enough for him to fall flat on his face. And as we covered last week, just the word of the Lord, the words that come out of His mouth can cause the heavens and the earth to shake. That is who we’re dealing with. Yes, He’s our Heavenly Father. He’s our Abba, there’s a safety and a security, there’s a confidence that we can approach Him, but let’s not forget who we’re dealing with. He is an awesome Master. And we must fear Him as such.
That means we ask each day, Master, what would you have me do today? Father, what is your will for me today? Whatever you say, I will do it. That is what a servant does. Not complaining, but just whatever the Master says, obeying perfectly. That is what God wants. First, you honor Him as Father, then whatever He says, no matter how difficult, no matter how long it takes, because you fear Him, and the reason why we fear Him because God is the only one who can send us to heaven or hell. That’s why we fear Him. That’s why we don’t fear our persecutor. That’s why we don’t fear man, that’s why we don’t kneel before anything in creation, we only fear God. That’s why we kneel before Him, because His opinion of you is all that matters. Is approval of you is all that matters. Instead of fearing your boss, because you want that promotion so badly, and you’re bowing down before him and whatever he says, you’re nervous when he comes into the room because you always want to please him, instead of living that way, why don’t you fear God?
For much of my Christian journey, I feared man. First, when I was younger I feared my father and wanted to please him. I didn’t want to get him upset. And later on, that fear transferred to spiritual leaders, and I feared them. Their opinion of me mattered so much that I did everything to make sure I was in good standing before them and spiritually what I was doing was kneeling before these people. And God, He tells us in His Word, in the end, these people will not stand next to you on Judgement Day. Their approval of you will not matter on that day. The only thing that will matter, and this is why we fear God, is because His approval will get us into heaven. His disapproval will lead us to hell. That’s why we fear Him. There’s nothing else in all of creation we are to fear, because eternity hangs on whether or not our Heavenly Father approves of us.
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
And He was heard because of His reverence. And if you look at the word, that word can also be translated, because He feared God. And so the reverence and the fear go hand in hand. The reason why Jesus is the perfect Son, and the reason why Jesus is the perfect Servant of God is because He both revered God as Father, and He feared God as Master. And He was heard because He revered and feared God, His Father and God, His Master. He was perfectly obedient as a Son. He was perfectly obedient as a Servant. He’s a Son who honored His Father. He’s a Son who feared His Father.
And that is why we follow Jesus. That is why we imitate Jesus. He is a perfect example for us. In Malachi, if you want to fix the attitude, and then if you fix the attitude, the actions will be fixed, we look to the person of Jesus. He did not do anything until He saw the Father at work. He didn’t even speak. He didn’t even teach until He first heard from the Father. That is a kind of child/servant that our Heavenly Father is looking for. We look to Jesus. He is a perfect example of a Son who honored His Father, and a Servant who feared His Master.
And the reason why Jesus was heard in His prayers, and maybe the reason why we are not heard in our prayers, is because we are not honoring the Father nor are we fearing our Master. If you come with that kind of attitude, and again I say the posture is important. If you kneel before our Heavenly Father, if you revere Him. You don’t despise Him. You don’t act like He’s blind, that He doesn’t see the diseased animal that you’re bringing. You don’t act like He doesn’t notice the fact that you’re holding back the tithe and you’re never considering an offering or contribution. Instead of thinking that God is this blind, senile grandfather, who just lets you do whatever you want. Instead, seeing Him as a Heavenly Father who sees everything. He sees the attitude even of the heart. He sees the motives of the heart. He sees it all. We’re all laid bare before our Heavenly Father, you cannot hide. And so if you believe that He is like that, and you come into His presence kneeling, you surrender before Him. And this is a posture that honors Him, I think that will change your attitude.
Your attitude won’t be like a child throwing a tantrum saying, give me this, give me this. Why aren’t you giving me this? How have you loved me, God, even though I read in your word you love me, how have you loved me? Instead of coming with that type of attitude, kneeling before God saying, I honor you, I give you thanks. You’ve given me your Son. I have no more things to ask for, I’m asking for things but I’m not going to complain if you don’t give it to me. I’m not going to say you’re slow. Your timing is perfect. I trust you. Coming with that kind of an attitude of, Father, I honor you. At the same time, we fear Him. And so that should also color our posture and the attitude of our prayer. We should fear the Lord.
We should tremble in His presence. We should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There’s some terror when we come face to face with the Lord, just His voice will shake the earth and the heavens. We should know who we’re dealing with. He’s not a buddy. He’s not Pops. We don’t say, Pops, I’m coming into your presence, give me this. We don’t come with that kind of flippancy. We come with an attitude of gratitude and humility. We bow our knees to the ground, we put our face low. We give him thanks for everything He has given us. And for the other things, we leave it to the Lord.
We trust Him with the things that we’re still asking for. Not with an attitude, we trust him with these things. No matter how long it takes, we’re not going to get frustrated with these things. We want to keep on bringing it before the Lord. And if you want to be a son who is properly honoring the Father, and a servant who is properly having fear of the Master, we look to Jesus. And listen to how He prays. It’s with loud cries, with reverence. Even Jesus the Son of God had to learn obedience. If we’re going to obey our Master, there’s going to be a training period, not my way, but your way be done. Even Jesus had to learn to let go of His will and say, not my will but your will be done. Let’s pray.
Father, we bring our hearts before you. We understand that you see it all. Back in the Old Testament in Malachi’s day, you noticed the people were bringing you sick, disease, lame animals. You saw that the people were withholding their tithes and their offerings. And Lord, you’re the same yesterday, today, forever. And you see us today. You see how we are acting before you. But even before the action, there’s an attitude. Lord, may we not despise you the way Esau despised you. He looked at his birthright and it was so nothing to him. I pray that we will not treat you as nothing. We would not just go through the motions and it becomes a weary to go through the motions of going to church and offering a tithe or an offering, and giving our lip service. I pray that it will never become tiring.
Father, we want to instead be like Jacob. He is an overcomer, and he’s one who grabbed the heel of his older brother. He is somebody who takes hold of the kingdom of God. I pray that we would be more like Jacob. He saw value in the things of God, and in the name of God, and he lifted up your Name through his actions. I pray, O Lord, that you would forgive us for a heart that dishonors you. Forgive us for a heart that so quickly says, Lord, how have you loved me? Forgive us for all of the grumbling, all of the attitude that we show in our prayers. More than the prayers themselves, you see the attitude of our hearts. I pray that you’d forgive us, Lord. I pray that in addition, we would honor you as Father, and we would fear you as Master.
Lord, may you instill in us a healthy reverence and a fear that we won’t so quickly and so easily grumble and be ungrateful in your presence, because we fear you. Because in the end, you hold the keys of eternity. You’re the one who determines who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. So your approval of us is what we are seeking. We fear you and we want to do your will and not our will. So Father, forgive us for so many times running toward our will and asking you to bless us afterward. Father, we want to get the order right. We want to submit all of our decisions, to surrender all of our decisions before you and trust that our Master will speak. And when He speaks, then we do it.
Help us, Lord. Change our attitude especially in our prayers when we come into your presence. Lord, we want to remember that we should be aware of who we’re speaking to, and have proper honor, proper fear. Thank you, Lord. We pray that you would search our hearts. If there is anything offensive in us, that you would bring it out. I pray that the Holy Spirit, that you would convict us in this time of prayer and self examination. I pray that as we come to your table, that you would nourish us with your body that was broken at Calvary, that your blood would cover us, every cell in our body, from head to toe, that you would cover us and cleanse us during this time. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen