“You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?” asks the Lord. (Malachi 1:13).
This verse addresses the Levites. The Levites were the priests of Israel, the keepers and teachers of God’s law. They knew that sacrificing a defective animal violated the law (Lev. 1:3, 10). But that’s what they did. What made these offerings even worse was that the Levites already possessed the means to make an acceptable sacrifice: “The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective animal to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says Yahweh of Hosts (Malachi 1:14). God provided them with plenty of healthy animals but they gave Him the ones that were lame, missing eyes, or were sick. This defiled their ministry to the Lord.
Defiled offerings are the flesh offering itself, and the church is full of such offerings. We are the priesthod of believers, the keepers and teachers of the gospel. We ought to know that Jesus’s offering was full and complete, lacking nothing. All spiritual work was finished at the cross. God asks nothing of us except that we believe and rest in His work (John 19:30; Heb. 4:3,10). But we do not grasp, do not believe, or are callous to the fullness of the cross. Our pious, fleshly minds reach their own conclusions about what God desires. Like little Dr. Christiansteins, we work feverishly in our religious laboratories. We take whatever combo of teaching, worship, prayer, and evangelism seems right to us, stitch it together, electrify it with self-effort, and cry out, “It’s alive! It’s alive!” But it is a mockery of life, a monster we have created. We offer our Christianity instead of Christ. We have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2; Prov. 19:2). Except for the missing eye, the scars, and the slouching limp, it looks a lot like Jesus. It is such a good mimic we even fool ourselves much of the time.
But God isn’t fooled. As He told the Levites: “I will accept no offering from your hands” (Mal. 1:10). The only offering He will ever accept is the One seated at His right hand. There is an acceptable male in God’s flock: Jesus Christ. He is the only offering we will ever need.
Excerpted from my booklet, Malachi: “Messenger of the Covenant“