Week 8 – Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 5 – Dung on Your Face (Part 2) –Priests Gone Astray: Malachi 2:1-9
The message of Malachi chapter two was written to the priests. God had made a covenant with the Levites, but they had “departed out of the way” (2:8). This passage addresses very clearly the responsibility of these men to be teaching God’s law. They were not fulfilling their responsibility. Pastors today have the same responsibility to keep God’s Word before His people, but before we come down on pastors and teachers too hard or too quickly, let us remember that according to Revelation 1:6, because of the work of Jesus Christ, each of us have been made kings and priests unto our God.
My Bible breaks the book of Malachi down into several sections. Because of this it is easy to miss an important thread that runs throughout it and which also applies to the very subject that we have been dealing with. It wasn’t until I began this study that I saw the importance of the feast to the entire Israelite community in a way that went beyond the things they were commemorating. We will be looking at this as we complete the book over the next few days, be watching for it.
In Malachi 2:5, God describes the type of covenant that He had with Levi, and why He had established it:
“My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.”
The fear of the Lord is the very thing that keeps us walking in His ways. Not a cowering fear, but a fear of respect and honor for His position, His holiness, His justice and His judgment. When we discover that we are not walking in His ways, we need to figure out why. Is it because we were simply unaware of what we were to be doing? I believe this is the case for many in the area of caring for the poor and needy, the fatherless and widows and the strangers. People simply do not realize the extent to which God has emphasized this throughout His Word. At the same time, If He gives a command once, we are to obey it. Then the question becomes are we not walking in His way because we do not fear Him? Do we understand what He has promised to carry out upon those who do not do His will? We live in an age of grace not law. True. But God’s desire is still for obedience and He still chastens us as a loving father chastens his son or daughter.
The priests had departed from the way. God had given them an enormous position of responsibility to keep His law before the people and to turn them away from iniquity, but the priests had failed.
“But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.” (2:8)
When we depart from God’s way the results are horrific. Some people seem to think that their actions affect only themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth. When the priests departed from the way they caused many to stumble. The same is true of us today. When our pastors or teachers neglect aspects of God’s Word, their people stumble. When we as individuals neglect to carry out God’s plan towards those around us the result is grievous. We have given up our responsibility toward the fatherless to the government and other social organizations, but Biblically the task lies with us, God’s people. When we do not carry it out the result is the pandemic that we now face. Is it any wonder that God was ready to smear dung on the faces of the priests? They had gone from steering the people away from iniquity to allowing them to stumble directly into it. Does neglect of the fatherless do the same? Unquestionably. If we do not show them the way that they are to go, who will?
In verse nine, God reveals the new position of the priests before the people:
“Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.”
In many ways, this is the position that Christians now hold before the people around us. One of the biggest complaints against the church today is hypocrisy. Is it any wonder when we see how often God has commanded us to care for these people and how rarely we actually do it? I am afraid that we too have dung on our faces. I challenge you to google “Orphan Statistics” or “Fatherless Statistics”. Look at the direction their lives generally take. God has already established a group of people to prevent it, but we have neglected our responsibility and now the by-product is being smeared in our faces.
Up Next: Week 9 – Lessons From the Prophets Cont’d
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