1 ”Listen, you priests; this command is for you! 2 Listen to me and take it to heart. Honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning seriously. 3 I will rebuke your descendants and splatter your faces with the dung of your festival sacrifices, and I will add you to the dung heap.
Not only had the people failed to honor the name of God as was seen in Malachi 1, the priests had likewise failed to honor God in their worship. As a nation’s leaders go, so go the people. We can understand why the people are offering worthless sacrifices. Their leadership is not showing them any better of an example.
The priesthood was not just a religious position but as the priests went, the national leadership went as well. God had declared that He would curse them because they had already been warned and had not taken the warning seriously.
Not only would the priests be cursed, they would be made unclean in the eyes of God. God declares that he will splatter their faces with what many translations translate as offal. This was part of the intestinal tract of the sacrifice. It was a part that was taken outside of the camp and disposed of because it was unclean. It contained feces. God declared that because the priests had failed to honor him, he would splatter this on their faces and take them outside of the camp and place them in the heap with the rest of it.
This sounds disgusting and it absolutely is. Even worse was that for an Israelite, this would have obviously made them unclean. As a priest, this was even worse.
4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites may continue,” says the LORD Almighty. 5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and this is what I gave them. This called for reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 They passed on to the people all the truth they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. 7 The priests’ lips should guard knowledge, and people should go to them for instruction, for the priests are the messengers of the LORD Almighty. 8 But not you! You have left God’s paths. Your ‘guidance’ has caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the LORD Almighty. 9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown partiality in your interpretation of the law.”
The priests of Malachi’s day were not only poor leaders in the example that they set, they gave bad advice as well. The priests were descended from Levi and were among the Levites. God had made a special covenant with them at the debacle of the golden calf because they did not fall into sin and instead stood with Moses. The Levites of Moses day revered God’s name. They taught the people the truth that God had revealed to them. They turned people away from sin.
Instead the priests of this day had given bad advice to the Israelites. The priests are guilty of causing the Israelites to fall into sin. Jesus warned of the dire consequences of leading a child astray and while the Israelites are not children, this is just as serious.
The priests most likely saw the sacrifices that the Israelites were offering and turned a blind eye to what was going on. Worse yet, they may have even encouraged it saying, “It matters more that you present a sacrifice if you can’t present an unblemished one. It’s better to give something rather than nothing.”
In many churches, the people have been offering worthless worship for week after week, year after year, and the pastor does nothing and says nothing. Either the pastor is too busy with the day to day operations of the church or doesn’t care or is blind to the spiritual condition of the church. As a leader it is the pastor’s responsibility to stop the people from offering worthless sacrifices.
In Malachi’s day the priest must have reasoned that it was better to offer any sacrifice even if it wasn’t what God had asked for. Today, pastors make the mistake of believing that it is more important for the people to be in the pew, even if they aren’t worshipping God the way he has asked.
Pastors should not be looking for pew fillers and look upon this as worship. The “something is better than nothing” approach can’t be tolerated. God didn’t tolerate this approach and pastors should not be accepting of it either. When the church assembles to worship God that is what the people need to be doing. If the people assemble to do anything other than worship, they need to get out. The pastor should not allow the people to bring worthless worship before God.