Saturday, June 19, 2010

an acceptable offering

We are doing the Mini Bible survey of the Old Testament in our adult education program at church.  Tomorrow we actually are doing the first of two classes on the last book of the O.T...."Malachi".  I remember my early days as a believer and some friends who were a little older in the faith told me about the Italian prophet and they pronounced "Malachi" with the "ch" sounding the same as the 'ch' in cheese (accent on the second syllable).  Malachi hits the major themes of the entire Old Testament in four short chapters and the love of God is contrasted sharply with the arrogance of man.  One of the problems God has with His people in Malachi's day was their attitude toward the offerings they made to God.  Rather than picking the unblemished animals to offer for sacrifice, they'd keep those in their personal flocks and throw in some unwanted and unhealthy animals...something like taking all your worn out clothes and furniture to a charity.  Really, your interest may be more in getting rid of unwanted things than in being a blessing to those who rarely see something new or unbroken.  I was thinking about offerings and why God is so keyed up about them...and then it hit me...God made the greatest offering of all when He offered His only Son to be sacrificed for my sin.  Only a perfect sacrifice was good enough to satisfy God's standard of perfection.  But then I was really blown away by this thought:  God doesn't force anyone to accept His love, His salvation, His presence now and forever.  It is an offering He makes to's an offering rather than a mandate.  And despite the perfection of the offering, the Holy Source of the offering and the promise that is certain in our acceptance of the offering...many decline the offer.  This is the wonder of God and the mystery of man.  The movie Godfather, made in the 1970's with Marlon Brando as an Italian mafia family leader made famous the line "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse...", referring to the power and control he had in granting and collecting on favors.  The one true God has made us an offer that we can refuse...and many do.   We may not sacrifice our best for others, but God has...and He still extends the offer, today.
Malachi 1:8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
      Is it not evil?
      And when you offer the lame and sick,
      Is it not evil?
      Offer it then to your governor!
      Would he be pleased with you?
      Would he accept you favorably?"
      Says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 1:1-2 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.  " I have loved you," says the LORD.
Rob Smith

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