Worthless Worship: Malachi #2. An exposition of Malachi 1:6-14. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 23, 2015.
It’s big business anymore. Books, conferences, videos and seminars abound. Worship has become a popular subject. You can subscribe to services that will provide you with orders of worship complete with audio and video files to enhance your worship experience. Churches have gone high-tech in order to attract a crowd. Theatre seats have replaced pews; sophisticated lighting systems have been brought in to enhance the viewing pleasure of the audience. It seems the only thing missing is the content! One wonders how the church ever got along with just the power of God and the message of the Gospel.
Today’s worship is geared toward the “audience”…meaning those who attend the worship service. In fact increasingly we are told that what we do must be geared toward the “un-churched”. It seems that worship has become our primary evangelistic tool. But is that its purpose? It seems to me the Scripture is very clear – we are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We are to go to the highways and hedges and compel them to come to Christ. We are to preach Christ in the market place in the home and along the road. We are to come together to worship God. He is the focus. He is the object of our worship and He is the audience! He is the one we are seeking to please with our worship. Rather than seeking to create worship that pleases the largest crowd we can gather, we should be concerned with what kind of worship pleases Him.
Worship doesn’t happen just because we engage in worship activities. Just performing the rituals and following the bulletin does not insure worship has occurred. The people of God where enjoying a time of relative peace and prosperity. Enemies did not surround them. Their crops were respectable. Life was basically good. And they faithfully went to temple and performed the appropriate sacrifices. They had a good thing going until that cranky old prophet named Malachi came along thundering his burden from the Lord. Our text this morning is found in the first chapter of his prophecy.
Text: Malachi 1:6-14
God’s messenger came with an oracle (burden) from the Lord.
This word carries the connotation of judgment.
God had some things to say to his people.
He brings charges against them.
There are in fact 6 complaints He brings.
Yet He began with a statement of love – “I have loved you…”
God had graciously chosen to be in a relationship with Jacob and his descendants.
That unconditional love is to motivate and inspire them.
Now Malachi addresses the issue of worship.
The prophet makes it very clear:
Thesis: Our God despises shallow, ceremonial, heartless worship.
Key verse = Malachi 1:10 – 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.
This is strong language. God is declaring he would just as soon lock the doors to the temple then continue this vain worship. Now I know this will not be a popular notion and I hesitate to even say it but what this means, if we were to put it in our own context, is that the kingdom of God would be better served by shutting down a few churches rather than opening more.
Allow me the opportunity to state something parenthetically.
I used to think of this as a “pet peeve” – I’ve come to understand it as a “burden.”
For too long the church has followed the adage “the end justifies the means.”
We have been so focused on “results” we have not given attention to means or methods.
You can get a big crowd and produce results and it be an abomination.
We are responsible for how we do things.
This text makes that abundantly clear.
In this text we find 6 characteristics of authentic worship.
This is worship that honors God and pleases him.
This is the kind of worship we are to aim for.
- Authentic worship recognizes God for who he is. (1:6)
- Authentic worship acknowledges God’s rightful place, above all others. (1:6-7)
- Authentic worship continuously examines the heart to insure genuine devotion. (1:6-7)
- Authentic worship goes beyond mere form to genuine obedience and commitment. (1:9-10)
- Authentic worship stands in awe of the majesty, glory and wonder of His name. (1:11)
- Authentic worship demands whole-hearted, passionate devotion to the Lord. (1:12-14)
Our worship is to be heaven-centered, God honoring and pleasing to God.