Week 8 – Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 4 – Malachi – Dung on Your Face: Malachi 2:1-3
This is a hard post for me to write, not because I don’t want to write it, but because I want to scream it from the housetops and know that I can’t.
Imagine this scene, a man is brought into an enormous banquet room. A long table, filled with food and drink, stretches the entire length of the room. The man is seated at the table and told that the food is his; he may do with it as he pleases. Next, a group of starving children is brought into the room and positioned in a line near the table, directly in this man’s line of vision. The children are told that they must stand there until they are given further direction and that they may not sit down at the table unless invited to do so.
The man begins eating. He glances at the children, but does not offer them a place at the table. As the meal progresses one of the young girls faints from lack of nourishment. The man, seeing the child fall, says, “No one wants to look at that, take her and lay her behind me.” The children obey and return to their position. A few minutes more and the smallest of the children begins whimpering. His tummy hurts with hunger and before him is the very thing that will cure him, but it is beyond his reach. Hearing the gentle sobs, the man lays down his fork and turns to the children once more.
“No one wants to hear that,” he says with a hint of irritation, “Take him to the hall and close the door.”
Again, the children obey and return to their position.
The man, having finished his meal, calls for his friends who are then brought in and seated around the table. The children step back against the wall and watch, but are never addressed by those who have now joined the banquet. There is much laughing and singing. There are also times of solemnity when the man pulls a book from his pocket and begins to read. The book says, “When you have a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind.” The children begin to lick their lips in hope at those words, but then the book is put away and the festivities renewed and no one turns in their direction.
Soon the friends have gone. The man gets to his feet and begins circling the table. He picks up a plate and a knife and scrapes the remaining food from the plate into a large serving dish. He sets the plate down, picks up another plate and repeats the action. This goes on until all the plates have been scraped clean. Then he picks up another serving dish and scrapes its remainders into the first and so on, until all of the serving dishes have been cleaned.
At long last, he picks up the serving dish and begins to turn toward the door through which he came into the room. As he turns, he sees again the line of children, which is smaller now, two more having fainted away. The words of the book cross his mind, sobriety flits through his eyes. Then it is gone and the corners of his lips rise in a smile. He continues his turning, sets the dish on the floor and whistles in a loud, shrill tone. Seemingly from nowhere two dogs appear and their long snouts are shoved into the remainder of the meal. The man is contented by the sounds of their hungry lapping and licking and gnawing. When the dogs have finished the meal and belched their long-tongued satisfaction he shoos them away, picks up the dish and returns it to the table.
“Well,” says he ” a delightful feast it has been. I am quite satisfied, and I have filled the bellies of others. And now, dear children, I’m sure you are tired of standing, won’t you sit down.”
How would you respond to this man? What was the principle problem in this scene?
In the words of Malachi, the man portrayed in this story did not “lay [the commandment] to heart”. This was the issue that God addressed over and over to Israel. It seems they were constantly keeping a form of His commandments, but always with some twist that corrupted them. God’s thoughts on the matter are not exactly what we would normally expect God to say. He says, “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung on your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.”
Yes, you read that right. Yes, it is gross. But this is what God thought of His people’s “solemn feasts” that were not being carried out according to His law. He didn’t say that He was going to stop them from partaking of the feasts. He was going to let them eat all they wanted. But then He was going to take the by-product of the feast (their dung, and if you look up the word that IS what it means) and spread it on their faces. Yuck.
We will go into this passage a littler further tomorrow, but for now let me ask you four simple questions:
- What are the by-products of not ministering to the fatherless?
- Are they being spread in our faces?
- Whose fault is the mess we are in?
- What are we going to do about it?
Up Next: Day 5: Dung on Your Face Part 2 – Priests Gone Astray
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