Malachi 1:6-8, and 13-14
God wants certain things from us. A few weeks ago I talked about the fact that God wants our patience, and God wants our loyalty. But here’s two more things that God wants; He wants our best, and He wants what’s first.
Let me read a few verses from the book of Malachi. God says in Malachi 1, verses 6 thru 8; “A son honors his father, and a servant honors his master. If then I am a Father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My fear? saith Jehovah of hosts unto you, O priests, who despise My name.”
“And you say, How have we despised Thy name?” You offered polluted bread upon My alter. And you say, How have we polluted Thee? In that you say the table of Jehovah is contemptible!”
“And when you offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it no evil? Present it now to your governor, will he be pleased with thee, or will he accept you? saith Jehovah of hosts.”
Now verses 13 &14; “You also say, Behold, what a weariness it is! And you have snuffed at it, saith Jehovah of hosts. And you have brought what which was taken by violence, and the lame, and the sick, and thus you offer it. Should I accept this from your hand? saith Jehovah. But cursed be the deceiver, who has in his flock a male, and makes a vow, and sacrifices unto the Lord a blemished thing..”
The command is given in Exodus 20, verse 3; “You shall have no other gods before Me!” What does “before Me” mean? Some versions say. “beside Me”. It means that the God of heaven, comes first, right? Does it mean that you can have other gods, but they have to come second, or third, or fourth?
The word translated “before”, or “beside”, is just a little two letter word in the ancient Hebrew, it’s spelled.. a-l, and I think it’s pronounced “ahl”. And even though it’s a little word, it has lots of meanings. It means.. before, or in front of, alongside, or beside, above, over, beyond, in addition, along with, against (as if you were pitting one thing against another), instead, opposed, and the list actually goes on and on.
But here’s the point, in this verse, the word really means all of those things. It means them all! No god before, or after, or alongside, or in addition to; No other gods period!
The reality is, that there ARE no other gods that exist. The God of heaven and of earth, and of eternity, is the one and only God that has ever existed, and He’s the one and only God who will ever exist. God says, in Isaiah 43, and in verses 10 & 11; “..I am He! Before Me, there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me.”
One God, one Savior, no other God before, and no other God afterwards. And since that’s the reality of the situation, we shouldn’t treat anyone, or anything, in this world, or in the world beyond, as if it WERE a god! Not our money, not our time, not our job, not our recreation, not our relaxation, not anything. And you shouldn’t give anything else, anywhere near, the respect and reverence, that you give to God.
But someone might say, Well, that command was given to the nation of Israel, it wasn’t given to us today. And that’s true, BUT, that first command that God gave to Israel, who God Himself refers to as “My son, My first-born.” (Exodus 4, verse 22), ..that command is also an eternal principle, born out throughout the bible, from beginning till end.
And that’s why Moses said to the children of Israel, in Deuteronomy 6, verses 4 & 5; “Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One! You shall love the Lord thy God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And that’s why Jesus repeated that commandment, in Mathew 22:38, and calls it the “great and foremost commandment”
We simply need to keep God first, in every aspect of our lives. He needs to be first in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls. Our God, should be, the first thought in our mind when we arise; He should be our first consideration, whenever we make any plans. He should be the first one we think of when we receive a blessing, of any kind; He should be the first one we think of when we’re in need; He should be the first one we think of when we it’s time to give thanks; He should be the first one we think of when we meet a challenge. First, in all things!
Speaking of Christ, the bible says, in Colossians 1, verse 18; “He is also the HEAD, of the body, the church (which of course is His kingdom) and He is the BEGINNING, the FIRST-born from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have, FIRST-place, in everything.”
We Don’t Always Put God First
But unfortunately, we don’t always put God first in our lives. Let me mention briefly, just one area of our lives, where God doesn’t always come first. And that area, is our finances. Our money. Whoa now, don’t mess with my money, right? That’s how a lot of people feel. I work hard for my money, and I have bills to pay, and I have things that I want. Don’t be messin’ with my money.
Everybody was probably right with me, when I said that God the Father, and Jesus Christ, must have first place in everything in our lives, but are you still with me, when I say that that includes your money. Let me rephrase that. Would you be in agreement with me, If I say that God must occupy “first-place” when it comes to HIS money? The money that you possess, isn’t your money in the “first” place, it’s God’s money.
We have a really good DVD put out be Apologetics Press, called “My God and His Money”. You should be sure to watch that sometime. Or maybe we should watch it together on some Sunday morning, and allow that to be our sermon lesson. “MY God, and HIS Money”
By at any rate, your money, is God’s money, and He wants the FIRST part of it back. Now God doesn’t exactly specify what percentage of it that he wants back, but He has specified that He wants the FIRST part of it, and not the LAST part. God doesn’t want the “leftovers”, if indeed there ARE any leftovers.
You don’t want to be the “leftover” in God’s eyes do you? Once He’s blessed everyone, whom He’s chosen to bless, do you just want to hope that there’s a “leftover blessing” for you? When you pray to God, don’t you want to know that He considers your needs, as if they’re right there at the top of the list? Or are you OK with having your prayer simply go to the “leftover bin”. Maybe He’ll get to it, and maybe He won’t.
From Sunday, all the way thru Saturday, if you are the recipient of any “earnings”, God has instructed, that you give the “first” part of those earnings, back to Him, in an amount proportionate, to the amount you’ve earned. That’s pretty clear, and easy to understand. So then, if we don’t do that, what are we telling God? How do you think He feels about that?
A lot of people don’t understand that giving, is one of the acts of worship, that we are to be involved in, when we come together on the “first day of the week”. But it is an act of worship, and we are to be involved in it, all of us are, if we’ve earned anything. We earn our livings from Sunday thru Saturday, and then, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 16, verses 1 & 2; “Upon the first day of the week, let each one of you, lay down by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”
Why the first day of the week? Why not give on the second day of the week, or the last day of the week. That’s a fair question; It’s because of the principle of the Lord having FIRST PLACE, in everything, and that includes having first place in our worship. Our week begins on Sunday, and our first order of business, is to come together as an assembly, and worship God, and thank God, for all that He has done for us.
And the bible instructs us, that when we have come together, on that first day of the week, that we are to give the first part, of what we have earned, during the previous week, “as you may prosper”. If you prosper a little, then your give a little, and if you prosper a lot, then you give a lot. But there should never be a single week that goes by, when you prosper, but don’t give anything.
It would be the same as allowing a week to go by, without partaking of the Lord’s supper. The simple instructions of the Lord, are to assemble EVERY first day of the week, and to partake of the Lord’s supper, to give of our earnings, to sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs, to hear a portion of God’s word, and to pray to our God.
Anything less than that, is a refusal to follow the commands of God.
Jesus Christ, the Word of God
Now, let’s think about Jesus Christ, and let’s think of Him as, the Word of God. John chapter 1, and verse 1 says; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The last part of that verse really sums it up.. “The Word was God!”
In the original Greek, it would be, “the Logos was God.” The “Logos”. Logos is an interesting little word. Logos can mean simply a word, or it can mean a statement. It can even refer to a complete discourse, or a speech. But the word logos can also refer to the very expression, or the embodiment of a thought, or of a purpose, or even of the very being of God.
And that’s really what it means in this verse from John1:1. The Logos was the very expression and embodiment of God Himself. The “Logos” was God. John 1, verse 14 tells us that “the Logos became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father..”
That phrase, “the only begotten”, literally means.. the one and only of it’s kind. The Logos was a one-of-a-kind, which came directly from the Father. The Logos is the exact expression of God Himself. In Hebrews 1, verse 3, the bible says that Jesus was the very image, of God’s substance. Another version says that Jesus was, “the exact representation of His substance.”
Now, Jesus was indeed, the bodily representation of the very essence and expression of God, but we don’t have that bodily representation with us today. But what we do have with us today, is another physical representation of God. It’s the representation of God, given to us in His written word, the bible.
The bible is indeed, a physical, and tangible representation of God Himself. It reveals God’s nature, and it reveals God’s will, and it reveals God’s laws, and most of all, it reveals God’s love, which was made manifest through His Logos, Jesus Christ.
And just like God must come FIRST, before all else, and just like Jesus has first-place in everything, the bible also, must come first. The bible is our “Logos”. God has chosen to express Himself to us, through the bible. I’m afraid that a lot of people don’t give the bible, the place that it deserves in their lives. I know that that’s a fact, but we, as Christians, need to be sure that we are giving the bible the place that it deserves.
Just like it says in Deuteronomy 11, verses 18 thru 20; “Therefore shall you lay up these words in your heart, and in your soul, and you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for frontlets before your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you sit up. And you shall write them upon the door-posts of your house, and upon your gates.”
Where do you keep your bible at home? Is it on a bookshelf somewhere? Or does it sit on a table? I’d like to make a suggestion.. It would be a good idea to keep your bible in the most conspicuous place that you can think of. Maybe right in the middle of the kitchen or dining room table. Or maybe right there on the night stand next to your bed. Somewhere, where you’ll always be able to see it. And then maybe you’ll be even more inclined to pick it up and read it, and truly put it first in your day.
And maybe you can think of some other ways to be motivated to make those words of God even more special to you than they already are. Because there is nothing more special than God’s words. There’s nothing more inspiring, or more encouraging, or more powerful, or more incredible, than the Logos of God. It’s the very representation of God Himself.
So then read the word, study the word, talk about the word with everyone who will listen, and most importantly, live the word, by obeying the word. “Let the word of Christ dwell richly within you”, Colossians 3:16.