“You place defiled food on my altar. ”But you ask, `How have we defiled You?’ Malachi 1:7
God swore His love to Israel throughout history through the covenant He made with them. But He predicted their response of unbelief. “How have You loved us?” they asked defiantly. Now, He addresses their defiled sacrifices. Because He knows the bent of their heart, He predicts that they will have a similar response. “How have we defiled You?” God holds up a mirror to show them a picture of their arrogance. It’s not pretty but it is instructive. If they will just listen, they have an opportunity to see how ugly pride is and how beautiful reconciliation can be.
This won’t be the last time God predicts defensiveness. He will hammer the truth hard through Malachi’s voice but God’s consistent message will be a theme of mercy. At all costs, He longs for their repentance so it can lead to obedience. And, obedience will yield what God desires most for every single one of us – the chance to bless those He loves. I often forget that as I once viewed God as a nagging parent and hard to please.
How many times has God pricked my conscience? He has been relentless. I recognized His voice, squirmed in discomfort, and then filled my life with distractions so I wouldn’t have to hear Him repeat Himself. He was calling me to change, to forsake my idols of people pleasing and playing by the rules. I was gripped with fear at the thought of being God’s individual, of being called to be separate to walk as God’s unique child. It took many years for me to respond to His encouragement to step up. I only did so after much loss and the sound of His tender wooing. He kept repeating Himself until I listened. He does that!
If I could be a spiritual mother for a moment and picture you and I having this conversation on my back porch, you would hear the passion in my voice. “If God has spoken, respond! If He has already begun to repeat Himself, times are critical.” I do not know the matters over which God has need to address you. Perhaps it’s a call to service, a call to forgiveness, a call to stop conforming to a group, or the call to resign from a weight that is holding you back. Whatever it is, this calendar day can be the first day of your newfound obedience. Peace with God is the first reward. Blessing will follow.
You give many chances. Thank You for Your inexhaustible mercy. Amen