Daily Word

Useless service? | Malachi 3:13-15

13 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. What profit is it if we keep His ordinances, and walk around like mourners before the Lord of hosts? 15 So now we call the arrogant happy and blessed. Evildoers are exalted and prosper; and when they test God, they escape [unpunished].’”

Malachi 3:13-15 (AMP)


Malachi returns to two questions asked previously: How can we return? (verse 7) and, Where is God’s justice? (2:17) As in the previous charges, it is not likely the people are actually saying this to the Lord, but saying it “behind His back” (if such a thing were even possible!) to one another.

How return?

Yesterday, they were told to stop robbing God. Out of gratefulness and obedience, they were to give tithes and offerings. Today, Malachi addresses their attitude – it stunk. They were only focused on what they could get from God. They saw God as a vending machine. If we do what you want, then you, God, need to bless us. In their experience, it didn’t work this way and they were complaining.

The NLT for verse 14 reads: “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?” Clarke’s commentary suggests, “They strove to destroy the Divine worship; they asserted that it was vanity; that, if they performed acts of worship, they should be nothing the better; and if they abstained, they  should be nothing the worse.” So why bother?

Where is God’s Justice?

In Malachi 2:17 they asked, “Where is justice?” They continue that query here.  “They saw the prosperity of the proud and those who did wickedness, and they felt that it was useless to serve God as long as those who didn’t serve Him seemed to have it so good.” (Enduringword.com) Ps 73:1-14 records the lament of seeing the wicked flourish and the good suffer. “The Jews here mistake [completely] the nature of God’s service, converting it into a [business arrangement]…they charged God with being unjust, forgetting alike that God requires very different motives from theirs to accompany outward observances, and that God rewards even the true worshipper not so much in this life, as in the life to come. ” (JFB commentary)

Image from Pxfuel.com

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