Weekly Word from Bro. David
July 21, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
We're currently in a study entitled, Going Through the Motions. The OT prophecy of Malachi records God's people at a point of apathy, complacency, and indifference. And the truth is, it becomes very easy to go through the motions.
Have you ever driven somewhere very familiar and when you arrived, stopped to think about how you got there? And, for whatever reason, you can't even remember the drive? I've done that before. Sometimes if you're traveling a routine route, your mind begins to wander and drift and before you know it, you're at your destination without even knowing how you got there. What were you doing? You were going through the motions!
Tonight, in Malachi 2:1-9, we see that one of the main reasons that God's people were going through the motions was because the spiritual leaders were far from God. The complacency of the priests had turned into complacency among the people. And in this text we see what happens when God's leaders are lacking.
1 "And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name," Says the Lord of hosts, "I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart. 3 "Behold, I will rebuke your descendants And spread refuse on your faces, The refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it. 4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue," Says the Lord of hosts. 5 "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me And was reverent before My name.
6 The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. 7 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi," Says the Lord of hosts. 9 "Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law."
Don't take a position of leadership in church unless you are prepared to be honest, pure, and loving in your lifestyle. Leadership is a privilege and with privilege comes responsibility. God holds teachers of His truth doubly responsible because we who lead are in a position where we can either draw people toward Christ or drive them away from Him.
This is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God. Indeed, it is a privilege to be an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, or a Bible club leader. But it is also an awesome responsibility. Let's make sure we attract people to the Savior rather than turn them away.
Here in Malachi we see a very similar situation. The spiritual leaders of the day were leading the people down the wrong path. The path toward spiritual compromise and complacency.
First of all we see the sinful compromise. 7 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi," Says the Lord of hosts. 9 "Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base Before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law."
In 1:6-14, the issue being addressed was the sacrifices the priests accepted and offered to God; here in 2:1-9, it is the other responsibility of the priests that is in mind, teaching the Law to the people and setting a good example. We often think of Old Testament priests as solely concerned with offering sacrifices, but they were also to keep, read, teach, and apply the Law of Moses to people.
God confronted the priests in chapter 1 and said specifically to the leaders, ''To you, O priests, who despise My name.'' Then He says to them again in verse 10, ''Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors.'' He confronts the priests in verse 13 when He says, ''But you say, 'What a weariness this is' and you snort at it, says the Lord of Hosts.''
But now, God levels another accusation at the priests. They are not only despising His sacrifices, but they are also failing to teach the people the Law. In fact, the very existence of the prophets is an indictment upon the priests. They should be communicating the Law but instead, they're lives oppose it.
Next week we will see that when God's leaders are lacking they live in deception as well as live with disgrace.