Jacob Loved, Esau Hated (1:1-5)
6–9 The Judahites had questioned God’s love for them; now God questions their love for Him! They weren’t even showing Him the respect a son shows his father or a servant shows his master. Doesn’t the supreme Father and Master of the universe deserve more respect than that! (verse 6).
God singles out the priests for blame; it was their job to lead the people in honoring Him. They had been defiling God by offering Him defective sacrifices (see Deuteronomy 15:21). They wouldn’t dare offer such animals to the human governor (verse 8); how could they dare offer them to God!3
In verse 9, God speaks ironically to the priests; He says, in effect: “Go ahead and implore me to accept your sacrifices—but I will not listen. I will accept neither you nor your sacrifices.”
10 In fact, God wishes they would shut the temple doors.4 The priests thought they could win God’s favor with defective sacrifices; but God wants no such sacrifices. We humans often think it’s better to give God “something” rather than nothing; we think that “lukewarm” service is better than “cold” service (no service). But the Lord will spit what is lukewarm out of His mouth (Revelation 3:15–16).
11–14 If the Lord’s own people (the Israelites) do not honor Him, He will find other people who will. His name will be great throughout the entire earth, from east to west (verse 11). In every place incense—prayers (Revelation 5:8)—and offerings—praise (Hebrews 13:15)—will be brought to Him. This prophecy is even now coming true through the worldwide church of Christ.5
In verses 12–14, God condemns the person who vows to offer Him a sacrifice and then offers Him one that is defective. According to the law, anything offered to fulfill avow had to be without defect (Leviticus 22:17–25). It is far better not to make a vow at all than to make a vow and then not fulfill it (Numbers 30:1–2; Ecclesiastes 5:5).