Meditations in Malachi : 6. Respect God
Mal 1:6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty. “
At the beginning of this series I said I wanted to meditate on its contents while keeping in mind the teaching of the Bible that “God is love”. E-mails are notorious for conveying information but the sense or feeling behind the mail being missed. I believe the same can be said about the Bible. We read things through the filter of our experience. If we have had trouble in life, a painful upbringing and been part of a legalistic church, we will view such words as those in our verse today as harsh chiding but actually it is possible to see them quite differently. I have recently done a study in Jeremiah to see the number of times the Lord warned Judah and Jerusalem through Jeremiah before He destroyed Jerusalem and took them into exile. It is an incredible number. This is the Lord who pleads and pleads with His people to turn away from destruction.
Now I have to insert a health warning, or a warning about understanding. In what is to come I am aware that I am going to go behind the words in the book and look at the wider picture of what the Bible reveals about God and am then going to apply that here. This means that quite often I am going to infer things about God that are beyond the basic text, but that will, I hope, always be in line with the rest of Scripture. Thus the rest of Scripture will shine light on possibly difficult words to give greater understanding.
What is amazing about our verse today is that it is there! This is the Lord reasoning with His people. He is seeking to get them to change their minds and He does it by reason. He could have simply said, ‘I am judging you and you deserve to die’, but He doesn’t! This little book is filled with reasoned argument after reasoned argument that seeks to turn the people’s hearts by logical reasoning. The Lord doesn’t want to judge them again. They have only recently been through the biggest disciplinary judgment in their history. He doesn’t want to have to do that yet again. And so we find Him appealing to their common sense, almost.
Look, He says, think about this. In the world about you there are certain things that you take for granted. For instance, there is family life. It has order and you expect that – that a son should respect and honour his father. You have no problem with that idea. You expect it to be like that because the father is older and wiser than his son. Or, if you like, think of business life where you have masters and servants. There is a natural order here. You don’t expect the servant to be the leader; no, it should be the master, the one with the money, power, influence and position. To expect it to be the other way round would be stupid.
Now if it is like that in your world, why isn’t it like that with me? Down through the centuries have I not revealed much about myself to you, so that you know things about me? Have you not realised that I am your father, the one who brought you into being from the beginning? And, even more, have you not realised that I also hold the role of a master, a leader, the powerful one in this relationship? Look back on your history; isn’t this how it has been? Now if that is so, why are you not honouring me in the same way you say it is right for a son to honour his father, or a servant to honour his master? Do you not realise what has happened? You have lost perspective! You have forgotten the many things that I have done for you down through the centuries, the things recorded in the scrolls of the books, and having forgotten, you have forgotten me and who I am.
Does such a gentle reminder need to come to us on days when we have tended to forget the wonders of our salvation and have failed to worship the One who has made all things, and who has sent His Son to die for us, and who has given us His own Holy Spirit and provided a place in heaven for us in eternity? How easy it is to let the things of the world crowd into our minds and to give little or no space to God. How easy it is to cease to be a praising and worshipping person, and yet the truth is that if we do become like that, it means that we too have lost perspective.
A right perspective is regained when we think on who God is and what He has done. If we reflect on the truth relayed through the Bible to us about God’s greatness, we will cease to be the centre of our lives. When we realise afresh His greatness and His power and His wisdom and His love, we cannot fail to be a worshipper. Moreover when we stop and think and reflect on what He has done for us we cannot fail to be a thankful praising person.
This is the message behind these opening words of this little book. They challenge us to check our own perspective and remember what we know, what we have been told about Him, what we have learnt about His greatness, and when we do that we will find our emotions stirred and we will find we use our lips for a different purpose. When we regain a right perspective, everything else will change as well. May it be so!