The Book of Malachi, Lesson VI, Malachi 2:1-9
We leave the first chapter of Malachi remembering that which was brought to the altar, the polluted bread, the blind, the lame, and the sick.
We remember the piercing words from our Lord concerning our willingness to honor those whom we can see but to our God whom we cannot see, we are satisfied to bring the leftovers.
We remember Godís admonition to Israel regarding the table of the Lord being polluted because of Israelís weariness of worship instead relying upon a lifeless religion.
But God is not finished with Israel for they are a nation of sinners who constantly require the word of God to bring them to see their true condition for without Godís word the human heart is totally blind and cannot know itself neither desires to know itself.
So we enter into Godís word to Israel in chapter two where it is the priests who now are to be instructed by God.
Please listen as I read verses 1-9 of chapter two.
Malachi 2:1-9, And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.5 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.6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.8 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.9 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.
There is no doubt to whom this passage is addressed.
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
God has described in full the corruption that is taking place at the altar of sacrifice which is fully under the agency of the priests.
And therefore these words come from the mouth of God to the ear of those who have allowed and no doubt encouraged this corruption and compromise and disobedience of the word of God.
Godís word leaves no doubt upon whom He plants responsibility for the abominations that are happening at His Holy Place.
God is a God of authority and a God who has implanted a chain of command and God honors that by holding those in the chain responsible and therefore subject to a curse from God Himself.
Solomon recorded in Ecclesiastes 1:9, The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
The longer I live the more I see that the patterns of life are fixed and that which was done, will again be done given enough time.
Menís ties will be narrow and then wide and then narrow again and on this you can count.
God through Malachi is intervening in a day of crisis in the land of Israel and bringing to the ears of the priests the truth of the lie in which they live.
God after describing the actual acts of the priests brings to their mind the actual mission that priests have been given to accomplish.
How normal that is, for through time so much of what we were given to do is replaced with that which we want to do.
The natural man usually removes that which is distasteful and replaces it with that which is tasteful or profitable to him.
Bosses have to always be on the lookout for this for people drift toward the pleasant and easy and drift away from that which is not!
And so goes it with the word of God!
This passage in Malachi 2 tells us of the responsibilities of spiritual leaders, specifically the priests of the Old Testament.
4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.5 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.6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
God is not speaking through Malachi because all is right with the priests who minister in the temple but God is speaking plainly because the priests had forgotten their purpose and had simply become religious enablers going through the motions.
So God brings to their minds a contrast between what they are doing and what those of the Levitical priesthood had done, priests who had walked with God in peace and equity (evenhandedness).
God uses that phrase of closeness, ďwalked with meĒ, a phrase which denotes a close intimate communion with God and obedience to His commandments or ways.
Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day before they had sinned.
Enoch walked with God and God took Him.
Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
We sing this hymn of intimate union with God which includes our walk.
And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos asks in Amos 3:3
Walking with God is honoring God.
God confronted Eli the priest who was lax concerning his sons, his wicked sons who followed not their father.
For God so confronted Eli in I Samuel 2:30, where it is written:
Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Walking with God is honoring God and not walking with Him is dishonoring God.
God in His instructions returns to the beginning wherein He refers to His covenant with Levi.
Here he is speaking, not only of the man Levi, but of the line of priests that descended from him.
Remember God had chosen the tribe of Levi to minister His sanctuary in the wilderness and in the land and therefore they had a special relationship, herein called a covenant with God.
A covenant defines a relationship, in this case a relationship between the tribe of Levi and God.
In our passage God reminds the priests of Levi to give glory unto my name and if not He will send a curse upon them.
With a covenant there are responsibilities on both parts.
God will always carry out His part but it is clear the human side is always weak and tends toward failure in its part.
Today men are called to be the priests of God, using that term to define our pastors, our ministers, our preachers, our leaders in the body of Christ.
They too are in a covenant relationship with God, a covenant of life and peace, with the law of truth in their mouths, and iniquity (in-nik-quity) not to be found in their lips, while walking with God in an intimate relationship and keeping knowledge, and speaking the message of God, the message of the Gospel.
The priests were to be select men, our pastors are to be called men, select men too, not only knowing about God but knowing God personally.
Not a religious man, simply keeping all the rules and rituals but a man who daily walks with God.
We as a body of Christ are to pray for and encourage our pastors to maintain that walk with God, to maintain a close communion with God through prayer and study of Godís word and to help in that effort by assisting them in carrying their load of daily duties.
Beware of the life busy about the things of God, but too busy to walk with the God of those things.
Now one of the doctrines of scripture so neglected in our modern church which normally focuses on our God as the God of love is the doctrine of the fear of the Lord.
Yes we are to love God, for God so loves us but God here in this passage in the second chapter of Malachi directs his priests to focus on fear.
See verse 5. 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 God is misunderstood for we concentrate on the fear of man which bringeth a snare thinking that fear is always to be avoided.
But the fear of God bringeth life and peace.
We are to stand in the awe of God for that stand will bring eternal life.
Proverbs 9:10 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Ecclesiastics 12:13b says, Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
The priests of Malachiís day had forgotten this command for did they fear God when they placed on the altar the blemished, the blind, the sick, the lame, the leftovers?
Where was their awe of God and with that awe the obedience to His word for a pure sacrifice which was to mirror the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, our Savior Jesus Christ?
Fear of God brings obedience to His word and disobedience to His word reveals one who fears not God.
Fear of God will lead to a great desire to honor His name above all else.
Godís covenant with Levi and those of Levi was a covenant to give glory unto Godís name in all that they did for God, in the service of God.
This glory entailed honoring God in all things.
They were to give of their best to the Master.
Always their best and always in obedience to Godís word.
Not as Cain who thought he gave his best to God but as Abel who obeyed God by bringing that which was in obedience to God.
God is not pleased by your best if it is not in obedience to His word.
The sacrifice offered in the tabernacle or the temple was not to be in accordance with majority rule or one man rule but in accordance with Godís word.
This is the fear of God which always brings obedience to Godís word, this is honor of God which always brings glory to God.
The use of this word ďgloryĒ in the second verse is from the Hebrew word ďKaw-bodeĒ which means weight in a good sense, splendor, or copiousness, glorious.
When used in this fashion we are to picture someone who is weighty or impressive and extremely worthy of respect and honor.
We are to have no other gods before us means that our God is the most weighty, the most impressive, the most worthy of our awe and honor and glory.
There is none else beside Him!
This awe and honor the priests of Israel had totally neglected in their service to God.
As priests in a covenant relationship with God there is no room to squirm out of their obligations to honor God and God makes it plain as to the consequences of such neglect for he says in verses 2b and 3:
I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
God expects his priests of old and of new, which we in the body of Christ are included, to make known His glory to all people.
We must walk a walk of close communion with God whereby our lives and every step of our lives honor our God, never letting our steps slip into dishonor of His Holy name.
Our walk with God is a listening walk, it is an obeying from the heart walk.
Verse 2: If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Lay it to heart means take in into your heart or put it into your heart for a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things.
How does honor and glory come from a heart to which there are no deposits of Godís treasure?
God expects His word to be obeyed from the heart but that requires that it be laid in the heart.
And that requires that his word be heard from the heart.
For as we read in Proverbs 1:5, A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
A wise man will hear and increase learning means making deposits of Godís word into the heart and those deposits will be withdrawn in the form of wise counsels that will result in honor and glory to God.