What does a rusty microwave have to do with God and the Bible? And what does that have to do with me?Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**
A church where I was serving was having a rummage sale. Members brought in their unwanted things and put them on sale to help the church raise money for teens and kids to go to camp. As you could imagine, a lot of stuff was brought, some of it could have been labeled junk. But there was one item donated that took home the trophy for the trashiest. A rusty microwave. It was so corroded that if you heated a hot pocket in it that it came with a side of tetanus. Warm up some pie in it, you would get the bonus of oxidized metallic sprinkles.
I know it was a rummage sale. There was a lot of unwanted junk, but this rusty microwave was an item that was never going to be sold. It was clearly trash that the donor believed the church should bare the responsibility they did not want. And to be clear, this was not a case of someone bringing in the best of what little they had.
What does a rusty microwave have to with God and the Bible? What does it have to with our lives? The prophet Malachi is going to provide us with the answer, in his taking God’s word to His people.
READING THE TEXT: Malachi 1:6-14
6 A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am master, where is the respect due me? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, “How have we despised your name?” 7 By offering polluted food on my altar. And you say, “How have we polluted it?” By thinking that the LORD’s table may be despised. 8 When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not wrong? Try presenting that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. 9 And now implore the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. The fault is yours. Will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. 10 Oh, that someone among you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised. 13 “What a weariness this is,” you say, and you sniff at me, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in the flock and vows to give it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished; for I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name is reverenced among the nations. (NRSV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
IN THE TEXT:
***(v6-10) Offering the polluted***
Our God is an awesome God. He is mighty in power and only does good things in our lives. And of all the nations of the world, this should be known by His chosen people, the Israelites. In that group, the priests should be leading by example. They ought to be reverent and obedient to the Holy One. But Malachi says they have “despised” and disrespected God.
“How have we despised your name?” (v6) This is how the priests respond. It is not an earnest question, trying to draw close to God. They are being defensive, with a “how dare you” attitude. The priests have been doing their job, offering up sacrifices. In their minds, they are not guilty.
But they were guilty, and the priests have been living in disobedience for so long they no longer recognized it. They had been offering animals there were blind, lame, and sick. The sacrifices were supposed to be without blemish, “something as valuable as possible as a symbol of one’s willing self-consecration.” (William M. Greathouse) Instead, the priests offered sacrifices to God that would have had them punished by their governors. To them, the sacrifice was only a symbol, why give their best for symbol when God judges the heart?
Notice what God says in verse 10. Their sacrifices are so useless, that the Lord would prefer the Temple to be closed. At least then they would not be wasting anyone’s time with offerings that He would never accept.
***(v11-14) Offering the blemished***
The priests had become so complacent in their disrespect, that they found doing things God’s way to be an intolerable burden. “What a weariness this is,” (v13) they said, then huffed and puffed like a kid who was told to clean their room.
Now, the priests were not alone. The people were bringing them what “has been taken by violence or is lame and sick.” (v13) They were volunteering loot gained through disobedience, then taking it to the priests as their sacrifice. Yes, the priests should have rejected those sacrifices, but that was too much trouble for a symbol. However, the people followed the example of disrespect set by the priests.
FROM THE TEXT:
What does the text say?
What does this have to do with rusty microwaves? The priests and people were offering God their rusty microwaves. The book of Leviticus, and in many other places in the Law, it clearly stated that the sacrifices were to be blameless. But they blatantly disobeyed. God wanted a hot pocket, they offered Him one with a side of tetanus.
The priests and people were blatantly disobedient because that was more convenient. The best of the best animals was worth good money. They wanted to go through the motions of worshipping God, checking off that box so they could be holy but without giving up their comfort. Instead of giving God an acceptable sacrifice, they offered him the rusty microwaves. Sheep that could not walk, that were blind, or those who were too sick to survive long. Not a big loss. Better yet, they would steal and offer their neighbor’s sheep, and that did not cost them anything.
How does this apply to my life?
What about me? Am I offering God a rusty microwave? There is no longer a need for a priest to offer up animal sacrifices, Jesus was the once-and-for-all sacrifice. Now, I belong to the priesthood of believers, responsible for lifting acceptable sacrifices to Jesus. (1 Peter 2:4-5) According to Paul, the sacrifice I am to lift is myself as a living sacrifice, which is a reasonable act considering what Jesus did for me. (Romans 12:1) But am I professing to this act, yet my actions are blatantly disobedient? I am calling Jesus, “Lord, lord,” but not doing what He has commanded? (Luke 6:46) Then I am offering a rusty microwave, that God will not accept.
I read my Bible, go to fancy retreats, and come to church every Sunday. But if what is my attitude? Do I say to myself, “they sing one of those fancy new songs instead of a hymn… if they sing one of those hymns I do not know, then I am not going to sing.” That is offering God a rusty microwave. Another one, “I will only come to church, read my Bible, or pray if I have the time.” That is offering God a rusty microwave. Or if I say, “If that stupid Pastor Jason does something silly for prayer instead of taking prayer requests and praying, then I am not praying.” That is offering God a rusty microwave. I am coming into his presence declaring I will only worship Jesus on my terms, in ways that make me feel comfortable. It has re-arranged how I will worship God based on how I deem it acceptable. Only if it does not cost me anything.
BEYOND THE TEXT:
God does not want my cast offs or after thoughts, but my best. Is that what I have been giving him?
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"