Unfaithfully Teaching God’s Word (Malachi 2:1-9)

Holman_Consecration_of_Aaron_and_His_Sons (1)
Consecration of Aaron and his sons (1890 Holman Bible)

The Lord’s messengers must be careful to speak and act in a way that brings glory and honor to the Lord. In Malachi 2:1-9, the Lord commanded the priests to repent of despising His sacrifice, turning away from Him, and causing many to stumble by their instruction. This warning was given to the priests in Malachi’s day and is applicable today to all Christians (especially preachers and teachers). Let us all be very careful to speak God’s Word truthfully and to adorn it with faithful, godly living.

If You Will Not Listen…

In our previous sermon (Malachi 1:6-14), we learned that the people offered worthless sacrifices to the Lord with the permission of the priests. As a result, the Lord rebuked the priests (and the people); calling them to repent of dishonoring His name and despising His altar. In this sermon the Lord continues to speak to the priests, saying: “If you will not listen, I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings” (Mal 2:2). Also, God said He would “spread dung on your faces.” Why would God say that? He used this vivid illustration to show His displeasure with the priests. The dung (manure) of the sacrificial animal was not burned upon the altar but taken outside the Temple and burned. Because the priests have polluted God’s altar, He said that He would treat them as if they were dung and have them removed from His holy place. Remember, the Lord is a great King who will be feared among the nations and He will be honored by His people.

He is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts

In verse 4, the Lord reaffirmed His covenant with Levi to set the tribe up for the priesthood in Israel. Later we learn that from the Levites it would be  Aaron and his sons who became priests. In Deuteronomy 33:9-10, Moses gave his final blessing before dying. He said of the tribe of Levi, “they observed your word and kept your covenant. They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.” The Lord said in verse 5, “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him.” The Levitical priesthood must fear the Lord (5), give true instruction (6), turn from iniquity (6). Also, the “lips of the priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from them” (7). The priests should have turned many away from iniquity with true instruction, but they have corrupted the covenant of Levi. The priests have turned aside from the way and have caused many to stumble (8). They showed partiality in giving instruction (9). Therefore, the Lord will make them despised and abased before all the people.

You are a Messenger of the Lord of Hosts

God instructed the priests in Malachi’s day to know, teach, and obey God’s rules. This message is not just for them, it is also for all Christians. In the New Covenant, all Christians are priests unto God (see 1 Peter 2:9). In the Old Covenant, only the priests had access to God and the people must go to God through them. In the New Covenant, all Christians have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus is our High Priest (Heb 4:14) who has commissioned us as priests in His name. Every Christian is a messenger of the Lord of Hosts. John Calvin spoke of this when he said, “All believers … should seek to bring others into the church, and should strive to lead the wanderers back to the road, should stretch forth a hand to the fallen and should win over the outsiders.”

Let us all be careful to speak and act in a way that brings glory and honor to the Lord. Let us pay close attention to the preachers and teachers who faithfully teach God’s Word. Let us hold them accountable to faithful teaching and living. Let us be intentional to deliver God’s message to a hurting world.