Summary: Good and bad examples of priests
Malachi 2 - 10/23/16
Turn with me this morning to Malachi chapter 2. If you aren’t sure how to find Malachi, simply turn to Matthew 1 and go three pages to the left. Malachi is the last book of the NT, and the events here take place about 100 years after the Jews have returned to Jerusalem after being exiled for 70 years to Babylon. Malachi’s message to the Jews is “Turn around, you’re going the wrong way!” And as we read the book, we never want to think “those Jews were so wayward” - but we always want to personalize the message and think “how am I going astray?” So as we come to God’s word, let’s pause and pray that God would speak to us by what we see in His word. Let’s pray!
Malachi 2, starting in verse 1. Read 2:1-9
The chapter starts out, “And now this admonition is for you, O priests.” It’s easy when we read a phrase like that to simply “zone out” and think “this isn’t for me - I’m not a priest!” But before we fall into that trap, we need to remember first that 1 Corinthians 10:11 writes about the OT events and says, “these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.” Even if you aren’t a priest, we can learn from the examples given to us in scripture.
But let’s also remember that each one of us who is a follower of Christ IS a priest. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:9 - “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” And each one of us here today, just like the priests in the OT, is to be pointing others to the truth and setting an example of faithful worship of our God. Sadly, though, sometimes instead of rejoicing that God sees fit to use us for His glory, sometimes we end up seeing our duty as drudgery rather than a delight. We become so “familiar” with our Almighty God that we end up thinking of spiritual things as commonplace. And that is a danger we NEVER want to allow ourselves to fall into.
Malachi writes a searing rebuke to priests who weren’t taking God seriously. They viewed their role in the Temple as a job, as if they were shopkeepers or CEOs running a business. They’d lost any sense of mystery, reverence, and wonder of the God of all creation. And they’d lost the joy of ministry. Today pause for a moment and search your heart as we look at this passage, and ask yourself, “Have I lost the wonder and awe of Almighty God?”
We want to look at these priests in Malachi’s day and learn from their bad example. We want to guard ourselves to make sure we don’t make the same mistake. They had five fatal flaws:
1. They dishonored God’s holiness - Look at verse 2 - If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me. God gives a warning to the priests - if you do not listen, if you do not resolve to honor - but then He says I will send a curse and then I have already cursed. God isn’t warning the priests to make sure they don’t go down the wrong road - He was warning them they ALREADY had strayed far from the right path. They were NOT listening to God; they were NOT honoring God’s name. And as a result they were under God’s curse.
They first step down the road towards sin and destruction is coldness of heart. We allow the wonderful things of God to become commonplace. What do you think about God? Do you hold Him in high esteem? When you pray, is there a sincere reverence that you are coming before the throne of the Most High God, or do you pray flippantly as though God were the window clerk at a fast food drivethrough?
This word “honor” is not the idea of obedience. Yes, if we honor God, we will obey what He says to do. But there is a much deeper starting place to consider. Honoring is not about action, but attitude. Honor has to do with the “weight” we give to something. We view God to be one worthy of great “weight” in our esteem.
“What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” How you view God will affect everything in your life. These priests no longer honored God, which means that they did not consider Him worthy of their esteem. Notice in the first part of verse 2 that because they didn’t honor God they didn’t bother listening to Him. The word “listen” means to “hear intelligently with the implication of obedience” and to “set your heart” refers to an active decision of the will. So they SHOULD have listened to what God had to say because they had hearts that were focused on God. But sadly, their hearts were far from God, and so the did not listen and they did not obey, and as a result they ended up under the curse of God on them. We know from chapter one that they didn’t honor God because they were giving Him garbage for sacrifices. So the first flaw was that they dishonored God’s holiness. Secondly,