This week’s Haftarah portion is Ezekiel 44:15-31. Listen in as Dr. Jeffery Myers discusses what it truly means to give Hashem our "first fruits" and the best of our "sacrifices".
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Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftarah Portion – Ezekiel 44:15-31
Lion of Judah Ministries
Dr. Jeffery L. Myers
The prophet Ezekiel prophecies about the 3rd Temple and tells us who will be priests and the laws pertaining to them. One of the stipulations is that they don’t have a portion of the land; their portion is the honor of serving HaShem in the Temple, which is reserved for them and no one else. It tells us that everything that we consecrate to HaShem goes to the priest.
YHVH tells us that we should give Him our first fruits and the best of our sacrifices. This teaches us that the best of everything should go to HaShem. Whether it is our time, children, money, service, when we give the first to Yah, we ensure that He is the focus of our lives! This causes Yah to be with us, and where Yah is, blessing is! By giving Yah our first, our passion, our pleasure, we will merit to become a “kingdom of priest and a holy nation”.
However, let’s be honest with ourselves, don’t most of us sometimes settle for giving Yeshua our leftovers? Whether its with our time, our money, our talents, our attention, our affection, or our devotion, we all are guilty of diverting those things towards selfish endeavors before we direct them towards Yeshua. Yes, we manage to give Yah a little something, a token reminder that we are still a believer, follower of Him. But we could hardly call it loving Yah with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Adonai is a great King and His name is feared among the nations, surely nobody would dare serve Adonai leftovers? Would they? Would we?
We find in Malachi they did just that and were rebuked because of their distain. Malachi 1:6-14 reveals the people would bring an unblemished lamb to offer as a sacrifice at the temple. The priests would reason, “It doesn’t make sense to slaughter this perfectly good lamb. After all, it’s just going to be burned on the altar. Let’s sell it for a decent price and substitute a slightly blemished lamb that’s cheaper.
Yahweh, early in Malachi, confronts His people saying they are polluting His altar. They ask how and He responds, Malachi 1:7-14,” By offering polluted food on my altar! Now you ask, “how are we polluting you?” By saying that the table of Adonai doesn’t deserve respect; so that there’s nothing wrong with offering a blind animal as a sacrifice, nothing wrong with offering an animal that’s lame or sick. Try offering such an animal to your governor, and see if he will be pleased with you! Would he even receive you?” asks Adonai-Tzva’ot. So, if you pray now that Yah will show us favor, what your actions have accomplished is that Adonai-Tzva’ot asks, “will He receive any of you? Why doesn’t even one of you shut the doors and thus stop this useless lighting of fires on my altar? I take no pleasure in you,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “and I will not receive an offering from you. For from farthest east to farthest west my name is great among the nations. Offerings are presented to my name everywhere, pure gifts; for my name is great among the nations,’ says Adonai Tzva’ot. “But you profane it by saying that the table of Adonai is polluted, so that the fruit and food offered deserve contempt. You also say, “It’s all so tiresome! And sniff scornfully at it.” say Adonai Tzva’ot. “Then you bring animals that were taken by violence, or they are lame or sick. This is the sort of offering you bring. Am I supposed to accept this from you?” asks Adonai. “Moreover, cursed is the deceiver who has a male animal in his flock that is damaged, but vows and sacrifices to Adonai anyway. For I am a great king,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “and my name is respected among the nations. They were dishonoring Yah!
We live in a day of convenience Christianity. The House of Yah is being marketed like a restaurant or store in an attempt to attract more customers. Pastors flock to seminars that share methods on how to attract unchurched people. Don’t preach against sin, because that threatens people. They want to feel good about themselves. They don’t bring Bibles to the assembly, so don’t get too deep in the study. Give them something positive and uplifting. Plus, they watch TV so give them a lot of dramas and visuals. Keep the sermon short and make it entertaining. Yes, the churches grow abundantly!
However, Malachi has something to share with them from Adonai, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not uselessly meet in My name, I am not pleased with you (Malachi 1:10 paraphrased). It would be better to close the doors of the House than to dishonor Yah when you meet.
At the center of Hebrew worship was the offering of sacrifices. These sacrifices were a way of approaching Yah and being obedient to Him. The Israelites had grown complacent. They were still bringing sacrifices but were content to bring only animals that were crippled or disabled. In their worship to Yah, they kept the best for themselves and offered to HaShem only that which was of no use to them. In other words, they gave Adonai their leftovers. How does Yah respond, in short, He simply won’t tolerate it! He reminds them who they are dealing with; the Yah who is King of the universe. He will see to it that His name is revered among the nations, that He gets the honor He is due! Nothing less will suffice!
The core message that the Kehillah should proclaim is the gospel. The gospel is about sinners who need a Savior in order to be reconciled to a holy Yah and escape judgment. If we modify the message to appeal to consumers we are offering blemished sacrifices. The modern “gospel” often is pitched as a way to personal fulfillment and happiness, Yeshua will help you succeed in business, have a happy family, lose weight! Try Him, you’ll be a satisfied customer! But what about sin and repentance? What about Yah’s holiness? Yah makes it plain that His purpose is to make His name great or revered among the nations!
As His people, we are often blind as to how we dishonor Him. What is the problem? Our problem is that we are not doing what we do with a Yah-ward focus. They did not, we do not, give Him our first, our best offerings. We are not focused on magnifying His name. In fact, as a whole, they were bored with the whole thing according to Malachi 1:3. Their attitude reflected their arrogance and lack of reverence for Adonai. They were going through the motions of worship but their hearts were not seeking to exalt and glorify Yah as He deserves.
It’s easy to do service to our King with wrong motives. If our hidden motive is to have people like us, dodge hard truth so as not to offend anyone. Honoring YHVH means giving Him the best of our lives. Where in your life have you grown content with giving Him leftovers? Your desires are accomplished, your hobbies are fulfilled, you’ve spent your time on yourself but only after everything in your life falls neatly into place and no inconveniences arise are you ready to give HaShem your all as a believer.
Take a look upon the altar of your life. Blind goats? Lame sheep? Blemished sparrows? Leftovers? Malachi reveals 4 things to us: Number 1: We should give Adonai the best in terms of cost. Salvation is free, you can’t earn it but you’re giving YHVH leftovers. Your gift reveals your estimate of the one to whom you offer it. Sacrilege is centered in offering Adonai something which costs nothing, because you think Yah is worth nothing. We only honor Him when we give Him our best in terms of cost. Number 2, we should give Adonai the best in terms of quality. He only wants unblemished lambs on His altar. If it’s a reject, it isn’t good enough for HaShem. If you wouldn’t want it, do you think that you honor Him when you give it to Him? Number 3, we should give Yah the best in terms of priorities. Adonai’s word was not top priority for these priests or for the people. Adonai said that they should honor Him above all else by their worship. This included obeying His commands for the sacrifices. But Yah’s priority was not their priority. Worshipping Yah by offering unblemished sacrifices just wasn’t all that important to them. By showing contempt for that which Yah valued, they were showing contempt for Yah Himself. Number 4, we should give Adonai the best in terms of personal integrity. Here we’re talking about motive—why you do what you do. Do you just want to look good in public? Ananias and Sapphira…we saw how that ended!
Let me ask you some closing questions: Is your service for Yah less than you would offer your job or boss? Is Yah answering your prayers? Are you playing church? Are you bored with worship and kingdom service? Is your passion in life to promote Yah’s glory among the nations? Let us remember that we serve a great King! Let us remember that this great King had left His Throne and gave us His best on the altar for us! What other response is there but to give Yah our very best? Don’t offer Yeshua merely a token of respect, do not permit a heart of complacency to linger when only one of utter love and devotion will do. Refuse to let this day come to a close without having given Adonai His fair due. Give Him your very best! Shouldn’t pleasing Him be your daily desire? Shouldn’t His Kingdom and glory be your passion? Don’t give Him the leftovers. Give Him the best you’ve got! His name will be great among the nations. Make sure that He is great in your daily life!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha
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