Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.
-- Malachi 1:14
This is a curse you and I bear. We are -- every one of us -- cheats. Hucksters. Phonies. Charlatans. Hypocrites. We go through the religious motions, we muddle through. We soak in lukewarmness. We vow our best to God and then give him half our heart (or less). And truth be told, there is not a single one of us whose best would not be blemished anyhow, total depravity being what it is.
So there we have it. We sinful, scheming cheats are under a curse. And God, as R.C. Sproul says, "will not negotiate his holiness."
But he will have his glory one way or another. That is not up for debate. His name "will be feared among the nations." He has predetermined this, and our sin, though great and total, is not some kind of kryptonite for God's plans for his own fame. His glory will cover the earth like the waters cover the seas. That's a promise.
So what to do? Nothing we can do. Just be cursed cheats, I s'pose. Something must give, though. God won't negotiate the price but he will have his own glory. Could it be -- oh my goodness, dare we think it? -- that he'd paid the price himself?
And here we see in the harsh tones of Malachi the whispers of the Messiah. Between the lines of the heavy words of rebuke ride the heavy beams of the cross. These old covenant shadows are cast by the emergence of the new.
God vows a male from his own flock, but an unblemished one. The spotless lamb of God bears the curse for us. (As the Scriptures say, cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree. And while he hangs there, cheaters play beneath his feet.)
Because he is a great King. And his name will be feared among the nations.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.