By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Sabbath Sermon, Dec. 1, 2012)
"Honour the LORD with thy Substance"
What parent won’t feel happy and proud if their son or daughter gives them a gift? Parents immensely rejoice at the gifts their children give them , not because they badly needed those gifts or even because the gifts were valuable. They rejoice at the gifts because of the thought behind them. The gifts reveal their children’s love for them and their zeal to show that love.
Typical of old folks, they would proudly show off the gift to friends and relatives, "my son bought it for me".
Similarly, when we give to God He is overjoyed, not at the offering itself, whether big or small, but at the spirit behind it–and in which we make the offering. It shows the gratitude of our hearts and the depth of our love towards Him. It is a way of saying thank you Father, a demonstrable way of doing Him honour. Hence "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase" (Prov. 3:9).
Our offering in no way makes God any richer, for "The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1). However, when we give back to Him it tells Him we recognize Him as the source of all we have–our life, our health, our possessions among other blessings– and that we value Him greatly for who He is in our life.
As His very own children there is no gift more precious in His sight than the offering we give Him provided it’s offered with a willing heart. Thus He is very hurt when we offer to Him grudgingly and the quality of the offering reflects it.
Yah Deserves Acceptable Offering for who He is
In Mal. 1 God pours out His hurt feelings at the inferior offerings the priests bring Him. In doing so, He takes pains to remind them that He is not only a Father and a Master deserving of honour but also the King of the whole earth who in time to come will be worshipped by all nations.
‘"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’
"By offering polluted food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised.
"When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.
"And now entreat the favor of God, that He may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will He show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts.
"Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.
"For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.
"But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.
"But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD.
"Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and My name will be feared among the nations" (Mal. 1:6-14 ESV).
It was a pervasive canker. From their attitude to their mode of offering, the priests showed their disrespect for God by presenting Him inferior offerings, although He was supposedly a Father and Master to them and is indeed a great King. Their object of contempt was God, and they acted it out by offering Him animal sacrifices that were blind, lame, sick, stolen, and blemished. Yet they went through the motions of officiating as intercessory priests to the nation. It was an exercise stillborn at the start, if not before! Would God accept their offering of contempt, let alone their intercession?
He returns the contempt: "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors [of the temple], that you might not kindle fire on My altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand" (v. 10).
So give willingly and joyfully to God in due recognition of all He is to you–your Life-giver, heavenly Father, King, Healer, Protector, Saviour, and the Giver of all your blessings. Let your offering show that you value the LORD.
Don’t begrudge the offerings you bring to His house as if under compulsion. It shows a mean, ungrateful spirit which does not commend itself to God: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7 ESV).
Similarly, don’t be ambivalent about your pledged offerings to Yahweh or it is better not to offer an inferior substitute at all. For" Cursed be the deceiver who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished". A time is coming when grateful worshippers from one heaven of heaven to another will give faithfully and joyfully. Even kings shall come bearing gifts to the Great King (Matt. 5:35; Ps 48:2). And many faithful saints do even now. "Because of Thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto Thee" (Ps 68:29).
Thus if we fail to honour Him in our offering, it takes nothing away from Him. He is still the great King and will always be. We are the ones who stand to lose in the long run.
So why not honour Him now with acceptable offerings to Him so we can be sure to be part of that glorious future when sacrifices to the Lord will be a norm?
".. from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts". Amen!