Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
The idea of offerings being pleasant to God reminds one of Noah's sacrifice on the cleansed and restored earth: "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour." The opposite sentiment, God finding man's offerings unpleasant, and even offensive, reminds of Isaiah's opening reproaches, uttered in God's name: "Incense is an abomination unto me .... Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them" The carelessness of the Levites in the time of Malachi had been making the offerings an offence to God. It was evident enough that they were routine and formality. One sign, and the first sign, of spiritual purification would be that the public sacrifices and services would take a new and acceptable tone.
I. THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH FINDS PLEASURE IN MAN'S OFFERINGS. It might have been that God only required offerings, and felt no personal concern in the offerings, as expressing the feelings of the offerers. It is the marvel of God's grace that he puts personal feeling into men's acts and relations; and by his personal feeling calls upon us to put our personal feeling into those acts. Then the value of an offering lies not in what is, but in the pleasure which it gives to God; and that pleasure depends not on its mere value, but on the feeling of the offerer which it carries. The test of every offering is this - Can God be pleased with it? Of the supreme offering of the obedient Son, God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Of some offerings the apostle could say, "With such sacrifices God is well pleased."
II. THE DUTY OF MAN TO FIND GOD PLEASURE THROUGH HIS OFFERINGS. A duty resting on
(3) personal affection.
If we realize what God claims, we must seek to please him. If we realize what he has done for us, we must seek to please him. And the impulses of love will surely lead us to seek to please him. What man asks by his gifts and sacrifices is, "Make thy face to shine upon thy servant." "The essence of all sacrifice is the same in every age. No sacrifice is pleasing to God, if not accompanied with the sacrifice of the heart and will, and of all the faculties, intellectual, spiritual, bodily, of the offerer; and no sacrifice is pleasing to God, except by virtue of its reference to the one sacrifice of the dearly beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased" (Bishop Wordsworth). Still, to God, formality is an offence; routine a weariness; hypocrisy the supreme offence; and still, to God, humility, thankfulness, trust, and love are a holy joy. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.