Meeting Divine Requirements Magnifies Jehovah
“I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”—PSALM 69:30.
1. (a) Why does Jehovah deserve to be magnified? (b) How do we magnify him with thanksgiving?
JEHOVAH is the almighty God, the Universal Sovereign, the Creator. As such, his name and purposes deserve to be magnified. To magnify Jehovah means to hold him in the highest esteem, to laud and extol him by word and deed. To do so “with thanksgiving” requires that we always be thankful for what he is doing for us now and for what he will do in the future. The attitude we need to have is shown at Revelation 4:11, where faithful spirit creatures in heaven declare: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” How do we magnify Jehovah? By learning about him and then doing what he requires of us. We should feel as the psalmist did when he said: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”—Psalm 143:10.
2. How does Jehovah deal with those who magnify him and with those who do not?
2 Jehovah appreciates those who magnify him. That is why he is “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) What is the reward? Jesus said in prayer to his heavenly Father: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Yes, those who “magnify [Jehovah] with thanksgiving” will “possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) On the other hand, “there will prove to be no future for anyone bad.” (Proverbs 24:20) And in these last days, the need for magnifying Jehovah is urgent because soon he will destroy the wicked and preserve the righteous. “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17; Proverbs 2:21, 22.
3. Why should we pay attention to the book of Malachi?
3 Jehovah’s will is found in the Bible, for “all Scripture is inspired of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) That Word of God contains many accounts of how Jehovah blesses those who magnify him and of what happens to those who do not. One of those accounts has to do with what took place in Israel during the time of the prophet Malachi. About the year 443 B.C.E., during Nehemiah’s governorship of Judah, Malachi wrote the book bearing his name. This powerful and thrilling book contains information and prophecies that “were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) Paying attention to Malachi’s words can help us to prepare for “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” when He destroys this wicked system.—Malachi 4:5.
4. What six points are drawn to our attention in Malachi chapter 1?
4 How does Malachi’s book, written more than 2,400 years ago, help us in this 21st century to prepare for that great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah? The first chapter draws our attention to at least six points crucial to our magnifying Jehovah with thanksgiving so as to gain his favor and everlasting life: (1) Jehovah loves his people. (2) We must show appreciation for sacred things. (3) Jehovah expects us to give him our best. (4) True worship is motivated by unselfish love, not by greed. (5) Acceptable service to God is not a burdensome formality. (6) Each of us must render an account to God. So, then, in this first of three articles on the book of Malachi, let us consider each of those points as we take a closer look at Malachi chapter 1.
Jehovah Loves His People
5, 6. (a) Why did Jehovah love Jacob? (b) If we imitate Jacob’s faithfulness, what can we expect?
5 Jehovah’s love is made clear in the early verses of Malachi. The book opens with the words: “A pronouncement: The word of Jehovah concerning Israel.” Further, God says: “I have loved you people.” Citing an example, in the same verse, Jehovah states: “I loved Jacob.” Jacob was a man who had faith in Jehovah. In time, Jehovah changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and he became a forefather of the nation of Israel. It was because Jacob was a man of faith that Jehovah loved him. Those among the people who showed Jacob’s attitude toward Jehovah were also loved by Him.—Malachi 1:1, 2.
6 If we love Jehovah and loyally stick with his people, we can draw comfort from the statement at 1 Samuel 12:22: “Jehovah will not desert his people for the sake of his great name.” Jehovah loves his people and rewards them, ultimately with everlasting life. So we read: “Trust in Jehovah and do good; reside in the earth, and deal with faithfulness. Also take exquisite delight in Jehovah, and he will give you the requests of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3, 4) Our loving Jehovah involves a second point that is brought to our attention in Malachi chapter 1.
Show Appreciation for Sacred Things
7. Why did Jehovah hate Esau?
7 As we read at Malachi 1:2, 3, after Jehovah says, “I loved Jacob,” he states, “Esau I have hated.” Why the difference? Jacob magnified Jehovah, but his twin brother, Esau, did not. Esau was also called Edom. At Malachi 1:4, the land of Edom is called the territory of wickedness, and its inhabitants are denounced. The name Edom (meaning “Red”) was given to Esau after he sold his precious birthright to Jacob for some red stew. “Esau despised the birthright,” says Genesis 25:34. The apostle Paul urged fellow believers to be careful that “there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things, like Esau, who in exchange for one meal gave away his rights as firstborn.”—Hebrews 12:14-16.
8. What caused Paul to liken Esau to a fornicator?
8 Why did Paul link Esau’s actions to fornication? Because having the mentality of Esau can lead a person to fail to appreciate sacred things. In turn, this can result in serious sins, such as fornication. Hence, each of us might ask: ‘Am I sometimes tempted to barter my Christian inheritance—everlasting life—for something as transient as a bowl of lentil stew? Perhaps without realizing it, do I despise sacred things?’ Esau had an impatient desire to satisfy a physical craving. He said to Jacob: “Quick, please, give me a swallow of the red.” (Genesis 25:30) Sadly, some of God’s servants have, in effect, said: “Quick! Why wait for honorable marriage?” A desire for sexual satisfaction at any price has become their bowl of lentil stew.
9. How can we maintain reverential fear of Jehovah?
9 May we never despise sacred things by disdaining chastity, integrity, and our spiritual inheritance. Instead of being like Esau, let us be like faithful Jacob and maintain reverential fear of God by showing deep appreciation for sacred things. How can we do this? By being careful to meet Jehovah’s requirements. This logically leads us to a third point that is brought out in Malachi chapter 1. What is that?
Giving Jehovah Our Best
10. In what way were the priests despising Jehovah’s table?
10 Judah’s priests serving at the temple in Jerusalem during Malachi’s time were not offering Jehovah the best sacrifices. Malachi 1:6-8 says: “‘A son, for his part, honors a father; and a servant, his grand master. So if I am a father, where is the honor to me? And if I am a grand master, where is the fear of me?’ Jehovah of armies has said to you, O priests who are despising my name.” “In what way have we despised your name?” asked the priests. “By presenting upon my altar polluted bread,” Jehovah replied. “In what way have we polluted you?” the priests asked. So Jehovah told them: “By your saying: ‘The table of Jehovah is something to be despised.’” Those priests showed that they despised Jehovah’s table each time they presented a defective sacrifice, saying: “It is nothing bad.”
11. (a) What did Jehovah say about unacceptable sacrifices? (b) In what way were the people in general guilty?
11 Jehovah then reasoned regarding such unacceptable sacrifices: “Bring it near, please, to your governor. Will he find pleasure in you, or will he receive you kindly?” No, their governor would not take pleasure in such a gift. How much less will the Universal Sovereign accept defective offerings! And it was not just the priests who were at fault. True, they were showing contempt for Jehovah by performing the actual sacrifices. But were the people in general without guilt? No, indeed! They were the ones who had selected those blind, lame, and sick animals and who had brought them to the priests to have them sacrificed. What sinfulness!
12. How are we helped to give Jehovah our best?
12 Giving Jehovah the best we can is the way to show that we really love him. (Matthew 22:37, 38) Unlike the wayward priests of Malachi’s time, Jehovah’s organization today imparts much fine Scriptural instruction that helps us to magnify Jehovah with thanksgiving by meeting divine requirements. Related to this is a fourth important point that can be drawn from Malachi chapter 1.
True Worship Is Motivated by Love, Not Greed
13. What were the priests doing that showed that they were motivated by greed?
13 The priests of Malachi’s day were selfish, unloving, and money hungry. How do we know that? Malachi 1:10 says: “‘Who also is there among you that will shut the doors? And you men will not light my altar—for nothing. No delight do I have in you,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘and in the gift offering from your hand I take no pleasure.’” Yes, those greedy priests even demanded a fee for the simplest of temple services, requiring payment for shutting doors and lighting altar fires! It is no wonder that Jehovah took no pleasure in offerings from their hands!
14. Why can we say that Jehovah’s Witnesses are motivated by love?
14 The greed and selfishness of the sinful priests in ancient Jerusalem may well remind us that, according to God’s Word, greedy individuals will not inherit God’s Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Reflecting upon the self-serving ways of those priests heightens our appreciation for the worldwide preaching work being done by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is voluntary; we never charge for any part of our ministry. No, “we are not peddlers of the word of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17) Like Paul, each of us can truthfully say: “Without cost I gladly declared the good news of God to you.” (2 Corinthians 11:7) Notice that Paul “gladly declared the good news.” That suggests a fifth point brought to our attention in Malachi chapter 1.
Service to God Not a Burdensome Formality
15, 16. (a) What attitude did the priests have toward offering sacrifices? (b) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses offer their sacrifices?
15 The faithless priests in ancient Jerusalem viewed the offering of sacrifices as a tiresome formality. It was a burden to them. As noted at Malachi 1:13, God told them: “You have said, ‘Look! What a weariness!’ and you have caused a sniffing at it.” Those priests sniffed at, or scorned, God’s sacred things. Let us pray that we personally never become like them. Instead, may we always manifest the spirit evident in the words of 1 John 5:3: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”
16 Let us delight in offering spiritual sacrifices to God, never considering this a tiresome burden. May we heed the prophetic words: “Say to [Jehovah], all you people, ‘May you pardon error; and accept what is good, and we will offer in return the young bulls of our lips.’” (Hosea 14:2) The expression “young bulls of our lips” denotes spiritual sacrifices, the words we speak in praise of Jehovah and his purposes. Hebrews 13:15 states: “Through [Jesus Christ] let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” How glad we are that our spiritual sacrifices are, not mere formalities, but wholehearted manifestations of our love for God! This leads to a sixth point that can be gleaned from Malachi chapter 1.
Each Must Render an Account
17, 18. (a) Why did Jehovah curse “the one acting cunningly”? (b) What had those who acted cunningly not taken into account?
17 Individuals living in Malachi’s day bore personal responsibility for their deeds, and so do we. (Romans 14:12; Galatians 6:5) Accordingly, Malachi 1:14 states: “Cursed is the one acting cunningly when there exists in his drove [an unblemished] male animal, and he is making a vow and sacrificing a ruined one to Jehovah.” A man who had a drove did not own just a single animal—say, just one sheep—so that he had no choice. In selecting an animal for sacrifice, he did not have to choose one that was blind, lame, or sick. If he did choose such a defective creature, it would show that he despised Jehovah’s sacrificial arrangement, for a man who had a drove of animals could surely find one that did not have such defects!
18 With good reason, then, Jehovah cursed the one acting cunningly, the one who had a suitable male animal but who brought—perhaps had to drag—a blind, lame, or sick creature to the priest for sacrifice. Yet, there is not even a hint that any of the priests quoted God’s law that defective animals were not acceptable. (Leviticus 22:17-20) Reasonable individuals knew that they would have fared badly if they had tried to foist such a gift on their governor. But in reality they were dealing with the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah, who is far, far greater than any human governor. Malachi 1:14 states matters this way: “‘I am a great King,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘and my name will be fear-inspiring among the nations.’”
19. What do we yearn for, and what should we be doing?
19 As loyal servants of God, we yearn for the day when the Great King, Jehovah, is revered by all mankind. At that time, “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) Meanwhile, let us endeavor to meet Jehovah’s requirements by imitating the psalmist who said: “I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30) To that end, Malachi has further counsel that can be of great benefit. In the next two articles, let us therefore give careful consideration to other portions of the book of Malachi.
Do You Remember?
• Why should we magnify Jehovah?
• Why were priestly sacrifices in Malachi’s day unacceptable to Jehovah?
• How do we offer Jehovah a sacrifice of praise?
• What should be the motivation for true worship?
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Malachi’s prophecy pointed forward to our day
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Esau did not appreciate sacred things
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The priests and the people offered unacceptable sacrifices
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Worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses freely offer sacrifices of praise