Weekly Word from Bro. David
August 4, 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. 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 and how just like 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!
Now today we see that in direct contradiction to the way the priest lived, we see God is ever faithful, we see God's promises are unchanging. In verses 5-6 he says; 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.
Levi was the ancestor of the priests and Levites of the people of God. The tribe of Levi showed its commitment to the Lord when Israel made a golden calf at Mount Sinai, and worshiped it. Moses summoned the tribe of Levi to act in judgment. The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded and about 3,000 of the people were killed on that day. Moses said, ''Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.'' (Exodus 32:29)
God had made a covenant with Levi and his sons. He promised a blessing to his descendants. Malachi drew attention to the attitude that should lie at the heart of priesthood, as of all servants of the Lord, namely reverence for the name of the Lord, for His personal revelation, and His presence in the temple. ''It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of My name.'' Those who revere God and God's name will teach God's people the truth and will not teach error.
''True instruction was in his mouth and no wrong was found on his lips.'' This reverence for God and His revelation leads to integrity and integrity leads to effective ministry: ''He walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.'' If only the priests had lived up to this standard, then the people might well have loved and served God with a whole heart.
Today we define a host of relations by contracts. These are usually for goods or services and for hard cash. The contract, formal or informal, helps to specify failure in these relationships. The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant!
There is a difference. Contacts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let’s say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, ''Where were you? Why didn't you show up for your appointment?'' He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract.
According to the Bible, however, the Lord asks: ''Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!'' (Isaiah 49:15) The Bible indicates the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor's appointment.
If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent's obligation, unlike the doctor's, isn't canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he's cared for. One member's failure does not destroy the relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the unconditional commitment to love and serve.
God is unchanging and unfailing. His promises and covenants never fail. Even though we fail to keep our part of the covenant, Jesus kept it for us. We must trust, love, and serve Him!
There are serious consequences for anyone foolish enough to ignore the Lord's words.
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.
God has called us to obey. When we don't obey, we choose to remove ourselves from His loving protection. We can choose to disobey but we cannot choose the consequences of our sin; God is the one who decides that. But I want you to notice the grace of God even in the midst of His judgment.
God offers His people a chance for redemption, even though they had been unfaithful, complacent, apathetic, rebellious, and wicked. God offered them a chance. Notice the conditional nature of His pronouncement. ''If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to My name, says the Lord of hosts'' God is still offering them a chance to repent and make it right.
What is God calling them to do? He's saying, ''Stop going through the motions! Wake up and listen to what I'm saying!'' Here, He says, that they should ''take it to heart.'' This is literally, ''place upon the heart.''
The word ''heart'' denotes in Hebrew what may be called the command center of a person's life, where knowledge is collected and considered and where decisions and plans are made that determine the direction of one's life. The expression ''lay it to the heart'' is found a dozen times in the Old Testament. It means to determine a course of action in response to one's knowledge or awareness of something.
God says in verse 2, ''Then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.'' God gave them a chance but they wouldn't listen. He cursed the priests because they wouldn't obey.
In fact, they were already cursed, ''I have already cursed them'' and their descendants were cursed, ''I will rebuke your offspring'' and they were utterly disgraced, ''and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.''
I don't need to paint a picture for you, do I? The ''dung'' from the sacrificed animals had to be taken ''outside the camp'' because it was unclean and otherwise would defile the Lord's dwelling place with his people (cf. Lev 10:4-5; 13:46; 24:14; Num 5:3; Deut 23:10, 12; Heb 13:11-13).
Spreading the defiled waste on the priests' faces and carrying them away as so much waste themselves was a figurative way of saying they would be removed from office in utter disgrace.
The use of such vivid imagery expresses both the degree of revulsion the Lord felt for the priests' behavior and also his attitude toward their hypocritical religious festivals. As they had treated the Lord with contempt (1:6) and defiled his altar with their corrupt and useless sacrifices (1:7), so the Lord would treat them with contempt and defile them, rendering them useless. Since they considered it such a burden to serve the Lord (1:13), he would free them from their burden by removing them and their descendants from his service.
A young boy lived in the country. His family had to use an outhouse, which the young boy hated. It was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and always smelly. The outhouse was located near the creek so the boy decided that he would push it into the water. After a spring rain, the creek swelled so the boy pushed it in the water. Later that night his dad told him that he and the boy needed to make a trip to the woodshed. The boy knew this meant punishment.
He asked his father why to which his dad replied, ''Because someone pushed the outhouse into the creek and I think that someone was you. Was it?'' The boy responded that it was.
Then he added, ''Remember when George Washington's father asked him if he had chopped down the cherry tree? He didn't get into trouble because he told the truth.''
''That is correct,’’ the dad said, ''but his father was not in the cherry tree when he cut it down.'' We must remember that there are consequences to our choices.
In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's friends and followers find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.