Focus: Malachi 2:2-3, “If you do not listen and take seriously the need to honor my name,” says the LORD who rules over all, “I will send judgment on you and turn your blessings into curses–indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart. I am about to discipline your children and will spread offal on your faces, the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it.
Falling in love is easy to do. Remaining in love over time can prove to be quite difficult. Israel was a nation called by the name of God. When God identified them by His name (Deut. 28:9-10), it signified the joining of the two in very close unity. God made a covenant with His people, and it was filled with abundant blessings- designed to bring life and peace (Malachi 2:5)- for Israel if they lived according to His ways. God had Israel’s best intentions for her. Yet, over time, Israel’s only consistent pattern was her inconsistent love for Yahweh.
When the prophet Malachi wrote, it was over 100 years after God had returned Israel back to the Land after their exile to Assyria, Babylon and Persia. And as time faded, so also did Israel’s love for the Lord. They violated the Law of God by offering blemished sacrifices and kept the best animals for themselves; they were disloyal to God; and they committed unspeakable sins. Israel did not take seriously the need to honor God’s name. This had serious consequences.
God was warning Israel through Malachi. He would not tolerate the defiling of His name. God cares when His people offer Him second best. He cares when His people fail to honor Him with their treasures because they are keeping the prized possessions for themselves. God cares when His people approach Him wrongly in their sacrifices. God cares when His people’s love for Him fades. He cares about their disloyalty. He cares so much that he would bring ultimate shame on His people if they won’t turn back to Him.
God said that he was about ready to spread offal on the priest’s faces- the faces of those were supposed to be “holiest” in Israel. This would be the utmost shaming of a person. The offal was the internal organs of sacrifices, feces and all, that was discarded and taken out the Dung Gate to the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna, AKA known as Hell in the NT). At the Valley of Hinnom there was a constant fire that would burn up and consume anything deemed unclean. The dead bodies of criminals were also taken here. So it is no minor infraction that Israel has committed. God said that he would smear “poop” in their face and that they would be carried away (out the Dung Gate) with it. God cares that His people honor His name! He cares when the love of the hearts of His people grows cold toward Him.
We can all learn from this. I am also guilty of letting my heart grow cold at times. It is a frustrating thing, but that is why the Lord asks us to repent. To repent just means to return to the Lord. God wants us to return back to our first love for Him. When we have done this, then we will no longer offer him the “seconds” of our lives. We will give Him the first portion of our time, talents and treasures. How is your heart? How is that reflected in the sacrifice you give to the Lord throughout the week– and not just on Sunday?