The Book of Malachi, Lesson VII, Malachi 2:4-9
God, in chapter two, continues His discourse thru the mouth of Malachi by clearly addressing His message to the priests who are Godís representatives to His people Israel.
His warning is clear, that they are there to give glory to God and as such they are to hear the word of God and to lay it to heart.
Lay it to heart means take in into your heart or put it into your heart for unless Godís word is laid in the heart there will not be good treasure to bring forth good things.
How does honor and glory come from a heart to which there have been 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.
God has so ordained His priests to live a godly life and that can only be lived with a heart taught of God.
He warns them to hear and from that hearing, glory is to be brought to God.
Here in this part of Malachi the second chapter, God brings to their mind the covenant with Levi, the priestís parent tribe and this covenant is rich with the requirement of priests to give good instruction.
So we read in Malachi 2:4-9, 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.
In this passage it is clear that sound teaching comes from one who lives a righteous and godly life, one who practices what he preaches.
Levi feared God and that fear brought Him, and his tribe to preach the law of truth and his preaching was undergirded with lips where iniquity was not found.
His priests were to be counsel to the people for the priestís lips kept knowledge and the people were to be confident when they sought the law from the mouth of the priests.
The priests, being the messenger of the Lord were to speak as if such speech were coming from the Lord for they were to be diligent to know the word of the Lord.
Of course Levi, the priestly tribe was to be committed to impartiality not showing favor because of rank, or power or wealth or status.
By God establishing a priestly tribe, he brought into being teachers, not with messages of their own but with messages from God.
God begins this chapter, And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
God uses the word ďcommandmentĒ for Commanders command.
Commandments come from the top, and they are aimed at those below.
Abraham commanded his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord for Abraham was at the top and his children and his household below.
God commands and his children are to obey.
God commands his priests and they are not to take commands as suggestions, but as marching orders.
I never ever while serving in the military took a command as a suggestion nor was that kind of thought even entertained for it was beyond the pale, which means, outside the bounds of acceptable behavior.
It was never even considered by underlings to alter commands.
God augments this absolute by calling the priests the messengers of the Lord of Hosts.
A messenger does not add or subtract from the message, he does not try to improve the message by autocorrect or erasure or insertion.
The message is not a matter of personal liking to be delivered only if approved by the messenger.
John the Baptist, had no right to alter the message of the Lord for He was given the task of being the voice in the wilderness preaching repentance, and preparing the way of the Lord.
God did not appoint John messenger to show off his creative talents but to faithfully be the forerunner of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Think about a modern issue wherein false messengers forget that God has said Male and Female created He them.
New York City has thumbed its nose at God and now has defined thirty-one different genders.
God has declared only two genders but Satan says I can top that and I will give you thirty-one.
Ah, the author of confusion is busy.
But Godís commands are not subject to redefinition depending upon the times or the era or the age.
Commanders are authoritative and commands are given to benefit the ones commanded.
Disobey commands at your own risk and danger.
Commanders are above and those commanded are below.
Priests are to know their place.
Parents are to know their place and children are to know their place.
This knowledge out of whack puts all things out of whack.
Our Pastors have been called to be messengers of God and are to faithfully deliver Godís message to us.
They have been given the ability to explain and apply Godís word.
They are not free to tweak the message, or to soften the message or to make that which is negative into something positive or positive into something negative.
They are not to go about speaking things from Godís word that are meant to offend, in a way not meant to offend.
As faithful messengers they are not to be in the business of softening or hardening the message.
The hearer of the message also has a responsibility to keep the messenger on track.
The nobility of the hearer is judged by keeping the messengerís feet to the fire by searching the scriptures daily after receiving the word with all readiness of mind whether those things were so.
A thinking and listening congregation will do much for a pastorís faithfulness to the preaching of Godís word.
We are, both messenger and hearer, to be alert to the purity of the deliverance of Godís word.
We are not to desire to have our ears tickled.
Remember as Paul records in II Timothy 4:3, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
So both messenger and hearer are complicit in the keeping of the knowledge of God through His word.
God provided Adam and Eve the most perfect of environments.
God provided Adam and Eve counsel as they walked the garden in the cool of the day.
But God also provided a warning to not spend time considering that which God forbade to consider, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God knew Satan was there to confuse and to corrupt and unless Godís word is paramount in our life we too will be confused and corrupted.
This is what came about in the lives of the priests and what comes about in the lives of many pastors and teachers whose lips do not keep knowledge.
For messengers who are not faithful to the message, will not turn many away from iniquity.
Today false messengers preach messages of self-reformation, self-improvement, self-awareness, self-esteem, the salvation of education or even change of environment.
Godís faithful messenger turns many away from iniquity, by telling the truth of Godís word, the truth that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
The problem of mankind, is not a problem that can be solved by the wit of man, the intelligence of man, the psychology of man or the inventiveness or technology of man.
God created man and he knows our frame thoroughly and completely.
Our true problem is shunned by man for men have no solution to their true problem which is total rebellion against our Creator, a rebellion against having a Commander who commands.
Sin is simply rebellion against Godís command, insisting instead we need not have anyone to rule over us.
And so were the thoughts of William Ernest Henley, Author of the Poem, Invictus who wrote:
ďIt matters not
how strait the gate,
Ah, the words of
the arrogant, are they not?
He charged against the scripture and cast away the words of Jesus who said Strait is the Gate, and narrow is the way and the scroll being the books that are opened in judgment.
But he, as the atheist he was, insisted it mattered not for he is the master of his fate, the captain of his soul.
He has rejected the faithful messenger and heaped to himself those who also turn not those away from iniquity, but turn many to iniquity and like all before him and after him will travel the broad way to destruction.
It does matter how strait the gate!
Pray for those who have been called to turn you away from iniquity for iniquity is the way of plague, the way of hurt, the despised, the way devoted to destruction.
Pray for those who have been called to preach Godís word to not show partiality in their preaching and instructing and expounding.
Now why does a messenger fail in abstaining from partiality?
Is there personal gain to be realized?
Will catering to a particular person or group bring him profit?
Listen to 2 Chronicles 19:5-7, And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. 7Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
Note what is to move a judge or a Pastor in this direction of impartiality.
It is the fear of the Lord.
It is an ever present mind that pictures himself at the judgment seat facing this very same Lord for whom he serves.
God is not a respecter of persons for His judgments are always without partiality.
He has declared that all men fit into one category, the category of sinner.
But not only that, all men are deserving of eternal judgment and that judgment is damnation for each and every man and woman, for all come short of the glory of God.
There is nothing in man, absolutely nothing in man that will save him.
No race is favored, no amount of wealth or position is preferred, no good works will move God to save.
Men are saved on the basis of Godís sovereign choice, which has nothing to do with manís merit.
Men are saved on the basis of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, in the sinnerís place.
That is grace, and grace is unmerited, unearned and has no debt.
Grace does not come with an IOU.
God will not expect, nor can any payment be made throughout all the endless ages of eternity for such great and wondrous salvation.
Since God shows no partiality, and He has created us in His image, He commands that we be like Him in this regard.
Favoritism, then, is incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ.
Showing partiality reveals an underlying motive of hoped for gain.
Showing partiality either to the rich or to the poor, the famous or the common, the weak or the strong, is contrary to the mission of Christ.
Both, whether rich or poor, are to be ministered to in our Saviorís name as our Lord would so do.
And lastly be sure to pray for those who carry Godís message to your soul that they be obedient to God in all they do for as God tells the priests if they lay it not to heart, if they not give glory to His name a great discipline awaits at their door.
I imagine one of the greatest responsibilities of any man is to preach and teach Godís word.
It is a sobering and fearful thing to be called to labor in Godís vineyard in this manner for God has His curses at the ready for those who unfaithfully carry out this mission.
Telling the priests of this curse includes even their seed, their ministry, their blessings, their health, their life, their familyís life.
God is not a God of going through the motions.
Everything that God commands is to be obeyed.
We may operate our homes in a light and casual way whereas a childís obedience is optional but in Godís economy that is not to be the case.
God is not willing that any should perish but if a man or woman, boy or girl chooses to not believe on God the consequences are sure.
God does not waiver in this for Godís word is true and He makes this plain to the priests of old and the pastors of the new.
I Tim. 4:16, Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.