Malachi 1:10-14 - Shutting the Doors

Spring 2020  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:03
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Shutting the church's doors is a sign of God's displeasure with His people



This is maybe one of the most remarkable sermons I've ever preached. Here we are, each in our own homes, listening from a distance. The church is empty; no singing, no prayer, no reading Scripture together. On Resurrection Sunday last week—the single most holy and significant day in all of Christendom—the sanctuary sat silent and empty, the doors locked and the lights off. We need to feel the weight of this reality, because there has been nothing like this in living memory. This closure of churches is something of massive significance for Christians in this country.
And churches across the country are divided as to the nature of that significance, aren’t they? There are some churches that immediately rebel against any worldly authority forcing them to close their doors. So you see the spectacle of churches that decided to use this pandemic as a chance to pick a fight with the civil magistrate—deliberately holding large gatherings in defiance of orders (and sometimes getting arrested in the process—not to mention spreading the virus.)
Then there were churches that have gone the route of “rebuking the virus” and claiming victory over it and insisting that no weapon formed against the church will stand, and that our main reaction to having the doors of the church closed is to persevere, because God is on our side.
And then there are churches that are actually embracing this moment, saying things like, “The church is not a building, it’s people”, and that just because a church’s doors are closed is no reason not to carry on as usual through live streams and TV broadcasts, and that people can worship in their living rooms just as easily (if not more easily!) than coming to a building.
And of course there are elements of truth in each of those notions—the government’s ability to shut down a church should be treated with suspicion, God is in control of this virus and He will not abandon His people, the church isn’t “just a building” and we need to take our ministries out into the world.
But there is one reaction to the church’s doors being shut that I don’t think we have carefully considered—and I think we really need to. God’s Word tells us that
Shutting the church’s doors is a sign of God’s displeasure with His people.
Shutting the church’s doors is a sign of God’s displeasure with His people.
Malachi 1:10 ESV
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.
We see the same thing in the Book of Revelation. In Chapter 2, God is saying to the church in Ephesus:
Revelation 2:5 ESV
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
The Scriptures say that when God takes away the light of a church—when God shuts the church’s doors—it is a sign that the church needs to repent. Instead of looking to pick a fight with the civil magistrate who ordered you to close, look to God who brought you to this point. If you believe that God is in control of all things, then ask why He brought it to pass to cancel your Easter services. Yes, the church is more than a building, more than a physical meeting place, but it is not less. When the church’s doors have been shut by God Himself, it does matter!
In verse 11 of Malachi 1 God says to His people:
Malachi 1:11 ESV
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.
God has a plan to glorify His Name in every corner of this world— “from the rising of the sun to its setting”. He aims for His Name to be honored and revered and worshipped and glorified among every single nation on Planet Earth. He says the same thing at the end of verse 14: “For I am a great king, says the LORD of Hosts, and my Name will be feared among the nations!”
Notice in this passage that God refers to Himself eight times as “the LORD of Hosts”—YHWH Sabaoth. This is a military term—a name that designates God as the mighty leader of the heavenly armies of principals and powers, the One Who commands the mighty legions of the Heavens. It is a Name to be honored and revered, a Name to cause us to tremble in awe and fear in the shadow of the power of His might.
But how do His people respond to Him here? Look up at verse 6:
Malachi 1:6 ESV
“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?’
The mighty, glorious, powerful and terrifying YHWH Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts, appears to His own people in all His splendor and glory and power and majesty—and they couldn’t care less!
And these are the people that God has set His love on! The very first words of this powerful, awesome and mighty King of the Universe to His people in this book are, “I have loved you!” (v. 2). And that love wasn’t because of anything they had done or who they were—God says in verses 3-5, “Look at what I have done to Edom, the nation that descended from the brother of your father Jacob! No matter what they do, I will always oppose them—but I chose to love you!”
But instead of honoring God as their Father, instead of revering Him as their Master, He says, they have despised His Name. God aims for His Name to be great among the nations, but His own people despise His Name. So He calls for the doors to be slammed shut on their worship.
We are sitting at home right now because the doors of our church have been shut. We are not able to offer the fire of worship in God’s presence as a gathered people in our sanctuary. And so whatever else we do to try to stay connected during this time—calling each other, trying out Zoom Bible studies, standing outside each other’s windows to talk—we need to search our hearts and lives to understand whether we as a church have been despising the Name of the LORD of Hosts in our worship.
Shutting the church’s doors is a sign of God’s displeasure with His people. And so the first thing that we need to consider from this passage is that

I. God takes no pleasure in self - centered worship (Mal. 1:10)

God says there in verse 10, “I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of Hosts, and I will not accept and offering from your hand”. As the passage goes on there are at least three characteristics of self-centered worship listed here, three ways we can examine ourselves to see whether we have begun to offer the kind of worship that God would slam the doors on.
First, we offer self-centered worship
When we are bored (v. 13)
When we are bored (v. 13)
Look at verse 13:
Malachi 1:13 ESV
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.
When we come into God’s presence with hearts that are bored with worship—when we drag ourselves to church out of duty or habit, when we stand silent and impatient during the singing, when we put our phone on top of our open Bible so we can scroll through our social media feed while we wait for the sermon to be done, when we keep checking the clock because we’ve got other things to do today besides sit in church. God says to us, “You know what? I’d rather just close the doors than have you come to church with an attitude like that!” Self-centered worship is bored worship, and God takes no pleasure in it.
At the end of verse 13 there is another characteristic of worship that despises God’s Name: Our worship is self-centered
When we are careless (v. 13b)
When we are careless (v. 13b)
God asks the people in verse 13, “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?”
God had made it very clear in the Mosaic Law exactly what kind of offering was acceptable to Him. In Deuteronomy, the LORD commands concerning the sacrifice:
Deuteronomy 15:21 ESV
But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.
But what were the people doing here in Malachi’s day? They were looking at their flocks and thinking, “Do I really have to go through every last animal and figure out which one is the best? Just go grab the first one you can catch!” And that’s the one that was lame or blind or weak. But their careless attitude caused God to call for the doors of their sanctuary to be slammed shut.
We are self-centered in our worship when we come carelessly to God’s presence. Jesus is crystal clear, for instance, in the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:23–24 ESV
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
But how many times have you shown up at church with some argument or grudge or insult between you and another believer and just plowed right ahead with worshipping God, business as usual? Jesus says don’t you dare come to worship without making your relationships right with one another, but we carelessly toss His words aside—and despise His Name in disobedience with our self-centered attitude.
God takes no pleasure in self-centered worship—when we are bored, when we are careless, and
When we are selfish (v. 14)
When we are selfish (v. 14)
Look at verse 14:
Malachi 1:14 ESV
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.
This isn’t just carelessness with worship—this isn’t just someone who is too lazy to know whether they have a pure sacrifice in his flock—this is someone who knows they have a fine specimen but is too selfish to give it! “This is an awfully nice male—I really ought to keep him as a breeder. After all, look at what strong stock I can get off of him. When you think of it, keeping this fine male will guarantee I’ll have a good supply of good sacrificial lambs for years to come! So keeping this male actually is glorifying to God!” But that’s just a selfish justification for disobeying God.
When you want to keep the best for yourself and give God your leftovers, you are being selfish in your worship. When it’s time for your tithe—to give a tenth of your weekly income to God—you say, “Well, I have a bunch of other expenses that I really have to take care of; I’ll give whatever I have leftover”.
When the alarm rings on Sunday morning and you say, “I haven’t had a break all week—this is my only day I don’t have to get up early for work—I’m just going to sleep in and look up the sermon online later, if I think of it.”
When a ministry opportunity comes along—door knocking in town, school supplies giveaway, teaching Sunday School, serving on a ministry team—and you say, “Gosh, I’m just so busy with so much right now, I just don’t have any time to help out!” What you’re really saying is, “God, the things that you are calling me to do are far less important than what I want to do—You can have whatever leftover time I have in my week!” God takes no pleasure in our self-centered, selfish worship, and He would rather slam the doors of the church shut than have it continue.
God takes no pleasure in self-centered worship. There is only one way that our worship will ever be acceptable to God:

II. God takes pleasure in the pure offering of His Son (v. 11)

Verse 11 says that God is calling for a “pure offering” for His Name—not the self-centered offerings of a bored, careless and selfish people, but the pure and acceptable offering of His own Son.
He is pleased with Christ’s offering of Himself (Matt. 17:5; Romans 3:25)
He is pleased with Christ’s offering of Himself (Matt. 17:5; Romans 3:25)
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 17 we read the story of Jesus taking Peter, James and John up to the top of Mount Hermon, where Jesus’ glory was revealed to them:
Matthew 17:2–3 ESV
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
The story goes on that Peter wanted to make three “tents” for each of them (suggesting that he believed that all three of them deserved equal worship—the Old Testament Tabernacle was a “tent”, after all). But God made it clear that it was Jesus Christ—His Son that Peter was to “listen to”
Matthew 17:5 ESV
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
God says, “Peter, I’m not pleased with your own attempts at worshipping My Son! He is not equal with Moses and Elijah! I am pleased with My Son—if you want to please me in worship, worship Me by obeying Him!
God does not take pleasure in our own self-centered worship—He takes pleasure in His Son. Paul says in Romans 3 that Jesus Christ was the one
Romans 3:25–26 ESV
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Jesus was the “propitiation” for our sins—literally, Jesus was the sacrifice that took away God’s wrath over our sins. The only way that we can please God in our worship is on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
God is pleased with Christ’s offering, not our own. But the Scriptures tell us that
He is pleased with our repentance (Psalm 51:17)
He is pleased with our repentance (Psalm 51:17)
In Psalm 51, David writes
Psalm 51:17 ESV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God is pleased when we come to Him in repentance, pleading for forgiveness on the basis of Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice for our sin. The only way we can offer acceptable worship—the only way we can offer worship that will not cause Him to call for the doors to be slammed shut on our sacrifices—is to plead for His grace in the Name of Jesus Christ. The only way we can “entreat the favor of God that He might be gracious to us” (as Malachi 1:9 says) is if we entreat Him on the basis of Jesus Christ’s acceptable sacrifice for us! And if our worship is offered to God without a conscious, deliberate and explicit appeal to the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, we cannot worship Him acceptably.
Shutting the church’s doors is a sign of God’s displeasure with His people. When we offer self-centered worship instead of worship centered on the pure offering of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we profane His Name, we belittle His sacrifice, we dishonor Him before the nations.
And so, if we do not want God to slam shut the doors of the church,

III. We must take pleasure in Christ - centered worship (1 Peter 2:5)

Decades after that day when he saw the glory of Jesus revealed there on Mount Hermon, the Apostle Peter wrote a letter to the churches scattered across Greece and Asia Minor. And in that letter he writes about the nature of worship in the church:
1 Peter 2:5 ESV
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Do you hear that? How does Peter say we offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God”? Through Jesus Christ. There is no other way to offer anything acceptable to God than through the grace purchased for us through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our worship can only be acceptable to God when we worship Him through what Jesus has done for us.
And what does that look like? How do we know that we are taking pleasure in Christ-centered worship? Let me suggest three things.
First, we are taking pleasure in Christ-centered worship means that instead of carelessly entering His presence,
We will obey His word
We will obey His word
Instead of the carelessness of coming into His presence without making our relationships with each other right, we obey Him and “leave our gift at the altar” until we have restored fellowship with each other. Instead of filling our worship services with shallow, superficial entertainments, we obey God’s commands in Colossians 3:16
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
We listen to God’s Word, we not only teach but admonish one another, we sing music that centers on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us—and we do it with thankfulness in our hearts for the Good News of the Gospel!
We aim to make our worship conform to the way the New Testament describes it in Acts 2:42:
Acts 2:42 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
We obey Paul’s command to Timothy
1 Timothy 4:13 ESV
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
When we are delighting in Christ-centered worship, we will not be careless about they way we approach Him in worship—we will be careful to obey Him.
Secondly, instead of being bored with worship,
We will delight in the Gospel
We will delight in the Gospel
Instead of dragging ourselves into church on Sunday, instead of constantly checking our phones to see how close we are to being done, instead of an attitude that says, “What a weariness this is!”—we will delight in what God has done for us in Christ!
Think of it Christian—before Jesus rescued you, you were just like Esau! You were God’s enemy, you were a citizen of “the wicked country”, one of the people threatened with the eternal wrath of God over your sin
Ephesians 2:3 ESV
among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
as Paul says in Ephesians 2:3.
And then he follows that description with the two most beautiful words in all of the Scriptures: “BUT GOD!”
Ephesians 2:4–6 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Christian—where is your delight in that truth? Can you really come into the presence of God in worship and not be blown away by the amazing grace of God? Beloved, if you really can walk into worship before YHWH Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts, and not be absolutely stunned at the magnitude of His grace poured out on you in Jesus Christ—if it really doesn’t blow you away that you can go from being an object of His wrath to the object of His eternal love in Christ—if you are bored with this truth, then you seriously need to examine what you think it means to be a Christian at all!
We take pleasure in Christ-centered worship when we obey His Word, when we delight in the Gospel, and
When we treasure God’s worth
When we treasure God’s worth
Instead of selfishly clinging to the things that we think are our treasures, we freely give it all away so that we can have more of Him!
In Mark’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus encountering a young man who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers him in Mark 10:21:
Mark 10:21 ESV
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Mark 10:22 ESV
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
When Peter responds by saying to Jesus (in verse 28)— “See, we have left everything to follow you!”, Jesus tells him:
Mark 10:29–30 ESV
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
This is the great secret to treasuring God’s worth above anything else: There is nothing that you hold onto that can compare with the treasure you have in God through Jesus Christ, and there is nothing that you can let go of that you will not receive back a hundred times over in Jesus!
When you take pleasure in Christ-centered worship, when you treasure God’s worth far beyond any earthly possession—when you are willing to lay down your money, your time, your energy, your career—even your life itself!—you are demonstrating to a watching world that God is the greatest treasure that anyone can ever have! And you can only have that treasure in God if you have come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ!
I believe that God has shut the doors of the American Church on the most holy day in Christendom because He is weary of our self-centered worship. He’s weary of how flippant we are in His presence; He is sick of how superficial we are, tired of our banter, our jokes, our shallow entertainments and gimmicks. He’s had enough of watching our boredom, our carelessness and selfishness. Shutting the doors of the church is a sign of God’s displeasure with His people. We must cry out to Him to grant the church in our nation repentance.
The doors of our church are shut today. You are sitting in your home, separated from the rest of God’s people, listening in isolation with maybe just your immediate family members. This is not a time to rail against the authoritarian power-mongers in Harrisburg, this is not the time for knee-jerk reactions that of course God wants us to re-open the churches and get back to business as usual—this is a time to reflect on what kind of worship you have been offering in our sanctuary.
If you have been coming to worship with eye-rolling weariness and boredom, not being utterly transfixed by the magnitude of becoming a beloved child of God through Jesus Christ, then cry out to Him in repentance and call on Him to fill you with the delight and joy of your salvation! Pray the words of Psalm 51:12
Psalm 51:12 ESV
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
If you have been coming to worship carelessly, not taking care to live in obedience to His Word regarding your relationships with one another or your holiness before Him, then cry out to Him in repentance and call on Him to grant you fresh obedience to His Word! Pray like the Psalmist in Psalm 86:11
Psalm 86:11 ESV
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
If you have been selfish in your approach to God, willing only to give Him the “tag end” of your time, money and energy, then cry out in repentance for your selfishness before Him and entreat Him to grant you a selfless, sacrificial heart that shows the world that God is the greatest treasure that anyone could ever obtain! Pray the words of Psalm 119:36:
Psalm 119:36 ESV
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
If we don’t want God to close the doors of our church—if we don’t want Him to take away the light that has burned here for over a century—then we must offer the kind of sacrifices He desires—sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart, offered up in the Name of the One who offered the only truly pleasing sacrifice to God! Let us repent of our sins of boredom and carelessness and selfishness and rest in the grace that comes through the Cross—so that “from the rising of the sun to its setting His Name will be great among the nations and in every place incense will be offered to His name and a pure offering, so that all the nations will glorify the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ!
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


What are some ways churches respond to having their doors closed during this pandemic? How are those responses healthy? What does this passage say might they be missing?
What are some characteristics of “self-centered” worship we see in this passage? Which of these things are the greatest struggle for you?
Read 1 Peter 2:5 again. Why is it so important that all of our worship as a church is specifically grounded in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection? What does “Christ-centered” worship look like?
What has been for you the hardest part of not being able to meet together for worship? What is God showing you about the importance of gathering together as a church? How will this experience change the way you value weekly gathered worship in the future?
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