Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’S altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. (Malachi 2:13-14 NIV)
This chapter in Malachi is the Lord’s response to those who have broken their covenant with their marriage partner. It is mainly directed toward men who should be protecting and providing for their wives but are instead setting them aside.
These two verses picture these men as offering sacrifices on God’s altar, begging him to accept their offering and respond favorably to them. But he does not. Why? Because they have been unfaithful to their wives. God is treating them in the same way they are treating their spouses.
Flooding the Altar with Tears
While the focus of this passage concerns breaking marriage covenants, I cannot help but think that the application is much broader. How often do I fail to obey God because it is inconvenient or contrary to what I want to do? And then wonder why God seems to be so distant. And the blessings that I expect fail to materialize. I come to the altar, make my offerings, pray, read the Bible, and attend worship services. But it seems, even though I flood the altar with tears, that God does not look with favor on my offering. Why?
Because what he wants and expects from me is not an outward show of piety. Instead, it is a life that is fully committed to him. That is how I get him to look with favor on my offering. By offering myself wholly and completely to him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).