The problem isn’t with God’s demands but with our own
Austin Braasch, Youth Ministry Intern
In this passage, Malachi is calling Israel to repentance. Israel had continually withheld their tithes and offered only their leftovers yet had the audacity to expect God’s joyful blessing. The people of Israel wanted God to accept their petty offerings and did not understand why the Lord continued to reject their contributions. If the Lord were to indeed accept their imperfect contributions, would He not then be associated with imperfection? He would not be the perfect Lord worthy of all of their honor and praise. Just as a perfectly white sheet of paper is no longer perfectly white if stained with coffee, the Lord cannot become stained by the imperfection of man. Addressing this issue of perfect standards, Malachi asks, “Will man rob God?” In other words, “Has God lowered His perfect standards and started to accept imperfect worship?”
Like the Israelites, we often feel as if God must change His demands to meet our criteria. The problem isn’t with God’s demands but rather with our own. Malachi’s words cut deep by telling us that we, like the Israelites, are thieves who have tried to convince God to compromise His perfection. Undeserved grace came when God did not accept or ignore Israel’s attempts to devalue His authority with their vain offerings, but instead chose to solve the problem entirely by sending His son as the perfect sacrifice. This is good news because Jesus is, in fact, a better offering than we could ever dare to bring to God’s altar. We can now, by grace, bring the perfect Lord the perfect and pleasing offering of Jesus’s atoning death. Jesus is the reason imperfect thieves like us can have communion with a perfect and righteous Lord. So this Advent season let us reflect on the perfect Son who was willingly born into an imperfect world for the sake of reversing our own imperfection.