Posts Tagged 'Malachi'

7 Side Benefits of Grace, Part 2

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To say that God has His eyes on you would be an understatement! Think about what this verse says –

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9a TNIV)

That’s one of the most remarkable verses in the Old Testament. And it’s a profound truth; God’s eyes travel all over the world, continually, giving strength to His people. It’s a comforting verse. It can also be terrifying verse. Let’s note the context before diving into the third side benefit of God’s grace.

Before we read about the eyes of the Lord, we read this –

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.” (2 Chronicles 16:7 TNIV)

It’s a fascinating story that you should take the time to read, but in sum, the prophet Hanani took King Asa to task for trusting Syria (man) instead of God. His rebuke went like this: God once delivered the Egyptians into your hands; why couldn’t you trust Him this time?

Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. (2 Chronicles 16:8 TNIV)

King Asa’s big problem here was his inconsistency. He trusted the Lord one time but not the next. He experienced a great victory when he trusted the Lord, yet he turned right around and instead of doing the very thing that guaranteed victory, he chose to trust man instead of God. Asa was so mad at the prophet, he threw Hanani into prison and oppressed those who didn’t like it.

We can denounce Asa and decry his behavior, but we need to look in the mirror. How easily you and I forget the power of God brought to bear in the great crises of life, but fail to trust Him in lesser decisions. Yet through it all, God is ever faithful to those who are faithful to Him. We don’t have to be perfect, just faithful.

The seven benefits of God’s grace work like that. They work as long as we are faithful to God. The first two side benefits of God’s grace are wonderful:

• God names His people;
• God numbers the hair on your head.

However wonderful they are, they only work when you are in a relationship with Jesus Christ. As long as you are in that relationship, God’s grace manifested in those two benefits will flow to you. But you’re out of luck if you’re out of that relationship for any reason.

Let’s turn our attention to side benefit number three:

God counts our very steps, Job 31:4

Does he not see my ways and count my every step? (TNIV)

Job was a man, you’ll recall, who had suffered greatly. He had such a great life.

Oh, for the days when I was in my prime… (Job 29:4a TNIV)

I guess anybody over 40 or 50 has said that. We look back with great fondness to the “good old days,” when we had hair and didn’t need glasses; when our knees didn’t hurt or our hands ache in the cold. But poor Job had it real bad. He had such a good life, but then it all went bad.

Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud. And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. (Job 30:15 – 17 TNIV)

This man was in bad shape; he’d lost his family, his reputation, and his health, and he was getting no help from even his closest friends. That’s often the case, by the way. When you suffer, you often suffer alone because honestly, no matter how sincere a friend may be, in the end, humanly speaking, you’re on your own. But Job never really gave up on God. At times it sounded like he did, but he continued to pray and plead his case before God, which is always a good thing to do.

Job was positively sure that he had done nothing to deserve the suffering he was experiencing, and that’s the whole theme of chapter 31. He goes through all kinds of sins or categories of sin that might have been the cause of his problems, but he solemnly swears he’s completely innocent. Of course, nobody is completely innocent, but in the midst of his declarations of innocence, Job manages to utter a deeply profound and meaningful theological truth: God counts our every step. That’s a real poetic way of saying that God sees everything you do and everywhere you go. Within the context of what Job is saying to God, that’s more than a comforting thought. Remember, Job was pleading his innocence before God –

I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? (job 31:1 – 3 TNIV)

The certainty of his innocence is based on the fact that he knows God knows what he’s been up to; that God sees all and knows all and He punishes only the wicked.  And he’s not wrong about that. Job, in the midst of his misery, hit the nail on the head.

Does he not see my ways and count my every step? (Job 31:4 NIV)

Yes He does! There is nothing about you that you can hide from God. Good thoughts, bad attitudes, questionable relationships, and quiet compassion; God sees it and God knows it. It’s a side benefit of grace, that God takes such notice in your comings and goings.

God records our thoughts, Malachi 3:16

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. (NIV)

This is a very personal, little insight into just how closely God pays attention to us. But let’s take a quick look at the context and you’ll see why it’s the fourth side benefit of God’s grace.

What everybody knows about Malachi is this –

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:10 NIV)

That’s right; Malachi is all about tithing, right? Wrong. It’s actually a very prescient little book that ought scare the devil out of Christians. It was written to a very specific group of Jews who lived thousands of years ago, but it describes the way too many modern Christians are. What prompted God’s challenge to tithe was the people’s arrogant attitude towards Him. Just read this exchange –

Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’” (Malachi 3:8a TNIV)

And so it goes. God accuses His people of something and they come back with a smart aleck retort. That takes some nerve, doesn’t it? How about this exchange –

You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” (Job 3:13 – 15 NIV)

“Arrogantly” is another way to translate the more obscure “stout,” as seen in the KJV. It refers more to an attitude than just words. Their arrogant, skeptical attitude resulted in their vocal criticism against God. Of course, they have their smarty pants response to God’s accusation ready: “What have we said against you.” That word, “said,” means “talking together.” In other words, these people seemed to be in the habit of talking together about God and the state of their lives and blaming Him for their unhappy state. They commiserated together about the apparent futility of serving God. They basically said that serving God and worshiping Him was a total waste of time. In the end, this attitude manifested the height of their selfishness: there was nothing in it for them. There was, in their worldly minds, no profit in serving God.

And if that doesn’t describe a lot of Christians, nothing does. Many believers think that God owes them a good life simply by virtue of their confession of faith. This kind of Christian may openly appear to serve God, but inwardly they have little or no relationship with Jesus Christ, yet they blame God for every bad thing going on in their lives. They have no joy in the Lord. God sees that arrogant attitude and He hears their false statements about His character.

But not everybody was like that in Malachi’s day, and not every Christian is like that today. Thankfully! And that brings us to the fourth side benefit of God’s grace. Just as He hears and takes note of those who carelessly talk about Him; who impugn His character; who play fast and loose with what He has revealed about Himself to man, our God pays attention to those of us who love Him and serve Him when we talk about Him.

In the prophet’s day, the godless in Israel complained about God and dissed Him among themselves, but then the godly did the same, except that their conversations were positive and right. What these pious people said was not recorded for us, but we can guess. Perhaps their conversations about God were like this:

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:1 – 7 TNIV)

Yes, in a way we don’t understand, God keeps a scroll, or a book of remembrance dedicated to our conversations about Him. We may debate the literalness of this passage all day – is this a real book or a symbolic one? To waste our time doing that is to miss the whole point of what Malachi is trying to get across, which is profound one.  God pays attention to what we say, and when we get it right, our names and His thoughts concerning us are permanently, divinely recorded. This message of permanence to a people who were constantly facing threat after threat to their very existence must have been so comforting. To any of us today, facing our own threats – threats to our health, our livelihood, to our way of life, we should be comforted as well. God is an eternal Being, and that means His thoughts, His care, His concern, and His plans for us are also eternal. This is just another side benefit of His amazing grace, available only to those who love Him and are serving Him.

The Right Kind of Fear

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Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” (Malachi 3:16 – 18 NIV)

When the prophet Malachi was in business, his nation was in bad shape. 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538-536 b.c.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 b.c.) and the sacrificial system reinstated. After being back in the land of Palestine for century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine had become cold and empty; they were merely going through the motions. The hardships they endured led to hard heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to a widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. The people felt they deserved better. They believed they had been short-changed by God.

The mission of the prophet Malachi was to deliver stern rebukes to the people and priests and to call them to repentance. The prophet reminded them that in spite of the hardships now, future blessings were in store for the faithful. The big theme of Malachi’s book of prophecy is that God loves His people even though they sin and their worship was not what it should be. The behavior the “the Lord’s people” brings to mind a few statements made by Jesus in Matthew:

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16 – 18 NIV)

In other words, even though Malachi’s people were doing everything they were supposed to be doing in regards to their religious obligations, they were doing everything wrong.

Their hearts were not in it. They had become spiritually lazy. They had become hypocrites.

But not everybody in Judah had become a religious slacker. There were, in fact, some who still feared the Lord and who actually paid attention to the prophet’s messages. There weren’t many, but there were some. There were some whom God paid attention to because they were paying attention to Him.

We can learn a lot about the kind of people God takes notice of and pays attention to by looking at this paragraph in Malachi 3. We can also learn some important things about the Lord, as well.

Three things about God’s people

A great many people claim to be Christians. Sometimes they go to church. They take Communion. They talk about God’s blessings and how much they love Him. But are they really Christians? Are they true believers? You may wonder what business is it of ours to question and judge the veracity of another’s faith. Actually, we’re supposed to be doing just that. One of the biggest problems in the Church today is that we don’t! Too many Christians are way too trusting. Jesus said this:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 NIV)

Uninformed people love to say, “The Bible says we’re not supposed to judge.” That’s clever but wrong. The Bible says not to judge another’s heart or motives. Paul said this:

The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15, 16 NIV)

But most importantly, he also said this:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. (1 Corinthians 5:12, 13 NIV)

So, then, to help you judge correctly, here are three important things unique to the Lord’s people.

They are reverent. True believers reverence the Lord. They fear God. What does that mean? Martin Luther struggled with the idea of “fearing God,” and he famously came up with a distinction between a the right kind of fear and the wrong kind. The wrong kind of fear he referred to as servile fear. This is a dreadful fear; the kind of fear a death row prisoner has for his jailer, the guards, the date of his execution. It’s a feeling of fright that comes between two people. This is the wrong kind of fear. It’s not the kind of fear we should have for God.

The right kind of fear Luther called filial fear. It comes from the Latin concept of the family. This is the kind of fear we need to have toward God. It’s the fear a child has for his father. It’s not that a child is frightened of his father, it’s that he respects him and wants to please him. He’s not scared of being punished but afraid of disappointing his father. This is why God wants us to think of Him as, among other things, as our Heavenly Father. That’s one aspect of our relationship with Him. True believers want to live lives that please their Heavenly Father. They are concerned that they are not. True believers hold this reverence for God and take it very seriously. They have a healthy awe and respect for the majesty of God.

They are thoughtful. The KJV looks like this:

...them that feared the Lord…thought upon his name. (Malachi 3:16b KJV)

True Christians actually think about Jesus when they’re not in church. They engage in conversations of a spiritual nature. They talk about Scripture during the week. Can you imagine? Can you imagine a faith that is not just for Sunday morning? True believers can, and that’s how they live.

One time, a small group of disciples was walking along the road to Emmaus, talking about Jesus. Here’s what happened:

As they talked about those things, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. (Luke 24:15 NIrV)

When Jesus is on your mind and part of your conversation, He’s right there, in a very real way. When Jesus is on your mind, you take care in where you go, how you speak, and in the attitudes you hold. Thoughts of Jesus’ nature and character will help to shape your nature and character. Jesus is never far from the thoughts of a true believer.

They aren’t ashamed of Jesus. Malachi wrote that those who fear God “talked with each other.” What were they talking about? It certainly wasn’t the weather. It wasn’t sports. The context is clear. True believers talk to each other about godly things. This is very closely related to the above point. A true Christian isn’t afraid to bring up his faith and he isn’t afraid of who’s listening.

Those who love the Lord, love each other, feel close to Him and talking about Him is natural and brings them joy.

Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. (Psalm 66:16 KJV)

If your faith is important to you, how can you NOT talk about it?

Those three points are three important aspects of the Christian life. But we can also learn some things about God, too.

Three things about God

The Lord is interested. Malachi wrote:

…and the Lord listened and heard…

There is a common view of God that is wrong and dangerous. It says that God is real but that He is afar off; He made the material world but leaves it alone. Nothing can be further from the truth. God is vitally concerned with His creation, especially with man. God pays attention to man; He hears what man says and takes it to heart. That makes you want to watch what you say, doesn’t it?

The Lord is interested and He does care and He does step in to help. But there is a caveat. This help isn’t for everybody:

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9 AV)

Only those whose hearts are completely His does the Lord watch over and help.

The Lord is careful. Who knew that the Lord has a “scroll of remembrance” in Heaven? He makes note of those who belong to Him. Over in the New Testament, we read about, not a scroll of remembrance, but a Book of Life:

My true companion, here is what I ask you to do. Help those women. They have served at my side. They have helped me spread the good news. So have Clement and the rest of those who have worked together with me. Their names are all written in the Book of Life. (Philippians 4:4 NIrV)

Deeds are important and so are words. According to the Bible, every word is noted because by his words a man is justified or condemned.

But here is what I tell you. On judgment day, people will have to account for every careless word they have spoken. By your words you will be found guilty or not guilty. (Matthew 12:36, 37 NIrV)

Now maybe you understand why true believers freely talk about the things of God. They’ve been justified and forgiven. They’ve experienced the justice of God firsthand. True believers have been found “not guilty.”

Let Christ’s word live in you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct each other wisely. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing with thanks in your hearts to God. Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ. (Colossians 3:16, 17 NIrV)

The Lord is faithful. The Lord makes it clear that His people are His “treasured possession.” Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd, said this:

And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the Last Day. (John 6:39 TLB)

The faithfulness of God is beyond compare. He is far more faithful to us than we are to Him. Jesus said that He would never leave or forsake us. In our darkest hour, He is the light that shows us the way. He may be depended upon when everyone else has given up on us.

When a person fully understands what he has in a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, how can he be anything other than a genuine, true believer?

 

A SURVEY OF THE MINOR PROPHETS, Part 5

Micah 3:1—12; Malachi 2:1—9

“Judgment is coming!” declared Micah, and there is way to escape it. Because of gross injustice in the land and because wealthy and/or influential people wanted it that way, judgment was on its way. The leaders of the land were taking advantage of both their privileges and their responsibilities.

1. Wicked leaders rebuked, Micah 3:1—4

Micah was a prophet who came from small, rural village in Israel but his ministry struck at the heart of the seat of power in the land. He prophesied during the 8th century BC when the future of the Jews was a little fuzzy. Babylon was in ascendancy as a world power, and the Jews were aware that they were flexing their military muscles. At the same time, the Jews were confident in their Covenant with God; that He would protect them. But Micah gave them a dose of reality. Trusting in the Covenant only worked when you were holding up your end of it. The leaders of the nation, by their sinful, rebellious actions, were steering the entire nation toward sure destruction.

a. Sins of injustice, vs. 1—3

Back in chapter 2, Micah wrote about the Shepherd:

I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. (2:12)

In contrast to that Shepherd, the rulers of Micah’s day behaved in exactly the opposite way. They had a total disregard and disrespect for God, His Law and the people they were charged to care for. The present rulers of the nation “hated good and love evil.” As we read these powerful verses, we see that these rulers were like cannibals, who were guilty of butchering God’s people, skinning them alive, and leaving them to fend for themselves.

God does not like people being treated unjustly by a nation’s leaders. When wickedness and evil take the place of justice and righteousness, there is only Person the people can appeal to: God. Those who practice injustice will ultimately face the God of justice; they cannot escape.

What makes leadership—at any level—fail? When leaders, civic and religious, place their personal preferences, their own ideas, evil, unfairness, and corrupt practices ahead of God’s Word and what God has ordained, that leadership will absolutely fail. These kinds of leaders were spoken of elsewhere in the Old Testament:

Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD. (Psalm 14:4)

…those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humankind. (Proverbs 30:14)

b. God’s refusal to listen, vs. 4

Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.

It’s worse for leaders who plunge onward in ignorant or careless rebellion to God’s will than just ordinary people. People like that have no sense of the sacred stewardship that they has been given them, and of the negative influence they have on people. A leader with no moral authority, though he may say all the right things, will take a nation down the wrong path.

God’s answer to this situation is found in verse 4. Those who abuse their position of authority will find themselves on the outside looking in; utterly alone and without any resources if and when they cry out to God for help. Truly you reap what you sow.  We call this “poetic justice,” and it’s something Solomon taught in Proverbs 21:13—

Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

And in the New Testament, James writes about this as well:

…judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

2. God judges corrupt leaders, Micah 3:5—12

Micah zeroed in on the nation’s leaders in the preceding verses, and now he takes aim at another group of leaders: the false prophets of his day.

a. The curse of false prophets, vs. 5—7

For those who could pay their fee, the prophet would give a comforting word. But for the poor, who could not afford to pay a prophet, they were met with another word:

As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if you feed them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if you do not, they prepare to wage war against you. (verse 5)

These “men of God” were as corrupt and greedy as their political counterparts. They were yes-men, mercenary in their motives.

God will not permit this sin of misleading His people to go unpunished. To speak for God is no small matter, and those who do it in an intentionally inaccurate manner, would a “blinding” judgment from God.

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God. (verse 7)

The judgment on false prophets reminds us of what Jesus said in Matthew 15:14—

Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.

And this was precisely what was happening; the false prophets were deluding the people. These religious hucksters would face an unenviable end. Their false words would be exposed for the lies they were and their false predictions of peace would be exposed by the fact of the Exile and Captivity.

b. Exile predicted, vs. 8—12

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. (verse 8)

In another contrast, Micah is totally different from the false prophets whom he just slammed. He was full of God’s power, and was able and qualified to speak for God.

But people do love the “placebo preacher,” who smiles broadly and dishes out homey bromides by the page. But when times get truly tough, that kind of preacher finds it hard to get work. At critical times, true believers yearn for the truth of God’s Word. The empty, brainless talk of “used car preachers” is cold comfort when it is not backed by God’s dynamic power.

Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets. (verse 12)

In the face of all this blatant hypocrisy, Micah told it like was going to be! This must have taken amazing courage. True servants of God, those of yesterday and today, don’t care about what happens to themselves; they proclaimed the unvarnished Word of God with total disregard for the consequences.

The teaching of James Wolfendale ring true:

When teachers corrupt doctrine, and preachers withhold the gospel; when rulers and princes pervert equity, and neglect special duties for the defense of which they are put in office; they poison the stream of life and turn it into deadly fountains.

Because of all the poison in the land, Micah makes it crystal clear the the Exile on the horizon is a direct result of its corrupt leadership. Jerusalem would fall. The Temple would be destroyed. The leaders would have no one to blame but themselves.

3. A warning to spiritual leaders, Malachi 2:1—9

The last Minor Prophet is also the last book of the Old Testament, and his book is a little different from those of the other Minors. Malachi’s message was not written in poetic form, but in prose. Just like Micah, centuries before, Malachi’s message is full of power, especially for those in power.

Malachi’s message was a direct challenge to the a corrupt priesthood of his day. Malachi accused the people of a lackadaisical attitude toward the Temple and sacrificial system, but their attitude of complacency and indifference to God had grown out the sorry state of the priesthood.

a. A curse on the priests, vs. 1, 2

And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.”

The priests were not taking their position seriously; they did not even come close to honoring God in the proper fashion. Malachi, whose name means “my messenger,” was prophesying to the people during the time of Nehemiah and probably shortly before the days of Ezra, as Israel was trying to rebuild Jerusalem and their lives after their return from Exile.

During that Exile, the people had no Temple to worship in, and by the time they were released and allowed to return home, most of the people had never been in a Temple of God and no clue about the importance of the Law and the traditions that made their religion work.

Even the priests were like this. In particular, among other sins, the priests were allowing the sacrifice of lame or sick and diseased animals to the Lord, in defiance of the Law. These priests had no fear or awe of God and certainly no sense of responsibility.

There is nothing worse than a minister who goes into the pulpit with an unbelieving or unfaithful heart; who doles out “Readers Digest”-type sermons and pious platitudes to their congregation. It would be better for them to be the worst sinner on the block.

God’s curse on these priests had already begun, and they probably didn’t even know it. Their words of blessings upon the people would be turned into curses. Things would never improve for the the people as long as these despicable priests were there.

b. Covenant with Levi, vs. 3—6

God was about to make things very difficult for the priests, and ultimately the people. The days of any kind of prosperity were coming to an end. This curse would have far reaching implications for all except those from the tribe of Levi.

c. The true priesthood, vs. 7—9

What the priests should have done and how they should have behaved is held up in contrast to what they had actually been doing. The priests were supposed to be the teachers; the leaders in scholarship. But they had fallen from that ideal in Malachi’s day!

For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. (verses 7, 8)

Instead of leading people to the truth, these priests did the exact opposite! This kind of recklessness violated the covenant God had with Levi. God would not tolerate this kind of thing to continue. To have an ill-prepared minister, a lazy or incompetent pastor, a preacher only interested in lining his pockets is bad enough, but there is nothing worse that a deceiver, a schemer, a wolf in sheep’s clothing behind a pulpit!

So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law. (verse 9)

This seems to be a common judgment on wayward ministers: shame and humiliation. As many commentators have noted, not all the priests were bad, but because of the bad ones, all were tarred with the same brush.

Once again, as has been noted several times in our survey of the Minors, we see the law of reaping and sowing coming into play. Galatians 6:7—

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.

The religious leaders of Malachi’s day thought they could live as they pleased; that they could dishonor the Name of God with impunity. But the learned, to their everlasting shame, that they were terribly mistaken. They received in their own lives what they had sown in the lives of others.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

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