Weekly Word from Bro. David
July 28, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
As we continue 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."
Last time together we saw the sinful compromise on the part of the priest. Today, we want to see when God's leaders are lacking they live in deception as well as disgrace. In verses 7-8 we see the priests characterized by lies and deception; 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.
These verses depict an interesting contrast. Verse 7 sets the standard for what the priests should be and verse 8 describes the reality. The two are very far apart. Verse 7 describes the priests in a very interesting manner. It says, ''For he is a messenger of the Lord of hosts.'' The priests' job was to do two major things:
1. Represent the people before God
2. Represent God to the people.
They were failing miserably at both these tasks. As a ''messenger of the Lord'' the ''lips of the priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth.''
As the life of a community depends upon the keeper of its water supply to guard that supply from loss or contamination, so the life of Israel depended upon its priests to preserve God's written word and effectively to dispense it when ''men should seek'' it.
But instead of representing the Lord to the people, they failed miserably. Their lives were characterized by deception. In verse 8, rather than being beacons of truth urgently summoning God's people to remain on the straight and narrow path of righteousness and rather than being diligent shepherds faithfully retrieving the Lord's sheep from the destructive side roads of sin, Malachi's priestly ''messengers'' had forsaken the path themselves and had led many to stumble along paths of their own choosing. Rather than faithful shepherds who protect and guard the sheep, they had been ''shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture.'' Jeremiah 23:1 says: "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!" says the Lord. The priest of Malachi’s day, like many of God’s ministers today, needed to be reminded of these words for Jeremiah.
Malachi communicates three major problems here. First, the priests “have turned aside from the way.'' Second, they have ''caused many to stumble.'' And third, they have ''despised the covenant of Levi.'' And as a result of this they live with disgrace: VS.9 says "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."
The consequences of living in sin, rebellion, and hypocrisy are devastating. God promises that the priests will be ''despised and abased before all the people.'' The words ''Therefore I'' at the beginning of verse 9 are in the emphatic position and they stand in opposition to the ''but you'' of verse 8. God is saying, ''This is what you have done'' but more importantly, ''This is what I have done.''
The verb translated ''despised'' is the same one that describes the priests' treatment of the Lord in Malachi 1:6 - ''You priests who despise My name.'' (also 1:7, 12). God is saying, ''You have disgraced Me, and now you will live in disgrace and shame.''
Compromise can be dangerous and deadly. The following is a Russian parable. A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft, soothing voice,
''Isn't it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let us negotiate the matter.''
Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, ''I want a fur coat.''
''Good,'' said the bear, ''that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.''
They sat down to negotiate, and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat.
God is ever faithful but, just as His priests, we tend to be much less faithful. Is there an area in your life where you are beginning to compromise? Make complete commitment to Christ your total priority. Don't compromise!