Summary: As a Royal Priesthood, God demands that we walk in integrity.
April 25, 2004
Text: Malachi 2:1-7
Subject: Corrupt Priesthood
Title: Priestly People – For Real or For Show?
Today we are going to continue in our series as we go through Malachi. If you remember from last week we saw that Malachi had a burden for God’s people. God loves His children and hates those who are outside the covenant. Sunday night we talked about giving God your best and how many of the people in Malachi’s time were offering defiled sacrifices. God wants sacrifice offered with good attitudes and your offering reflects your attitude about God.
Today we will see that one of the reasons the nation of Israel had the wrong kind of attitude in worship was because their priests were corrupt. What we don’t really know is the answer to the question, “were the priests corrupt because of the people, or were the people led astray by corrupt priests?”
What does the priesthood have to do with me? 1 Peter 2:5, “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” As believers in Christ you are a priesthood having the same responsibilities as those of old.
So as we begin this morning I want you to keep in mind the question, “Is my priesthood for real or for show?”
I. THE LIE OF RELIGION. (1-4)
A. A Commandment to Follow. The Lord speaks through the prophet with words that would definitely get their attention. He speaks of a commandment. This is the thing they knew best. The priests followed the law. After all, they had written most of them themselves. They knew what it said. So when they heard that there was a commandment for them to follow, what would have been their attitudes? Great, we can do this. We, in our perfect hindsight, can see how the priests missed it. We know that it was never intended for man to be saved by following commandments. We know you are saved by grace and not by works. We know that Jesus’ command to us was to, “love one another.” When we think about love we think about earthly relationships. God is concerned with earthly relationships. A man and his wife had gotten into a heated discussion and it got so bad that they wouldn’t speak. Neither would admit the other might be right. Finally the husband couldn’t take it any longer so he told his wife that he would tell her he was wrong if she would only say that he was right. That way everything would be better. She agreed so the husband said, “I was wrong.” To which she quickly replied, “You’re right!” Like the wife, these priests had a pride that was so engrained in them that they could never admit to being wrong. But they missed the point. Pride often keeps us from being obedient.
B. A Commitment to Make. How did one become a priest? “When I grow up I want to go to priest school?” NO! The office of priest was handed down from one generation to the next. The priesthood came through a covenant. This priesthood, who should have been blessed, was failing in several areas of their worship. 1) They were not listening…vs. 2, “If you will not hear…” God was speaking to them through the prophets and the law, but they were not listening. 2) They weren’t taking it to heart. If they did hear, they didn’t believe it. After all, Malachi and all the others that came before him were just prophets. They were priests of God!!! 3) They were not giving glory to God’s name. As a matter of fact, they were bringing reproach. What does this say to us today? As the church (A holy priesthood) we are called to hear God’s word, whether it is His voice speaking in our hearts or the word given to us to read. And then we are called to do what we hear. Proclaim His word. Live lives that are pure and holy before Him. Be an example of His holiness to those around you.
C. A Curse to Receive. Vs 2, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.” I don’t know about anyone else, but if God spoke to me that way, I think it would get my attention. God is going to curse them. Then He is going to curse their blessings. I take that two ways. 1) God is going to curse everything that He has blessed them with. 2) The blessings that they pronounce upon others will be cursed. Now why would God do that? Why would He hold others accountable for the sins of the priests? As a Christian, you are responsible to study the word, to rightly divide the truth, to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. You are responsible for yourself. You can be pretty sure that what I say to you from this pulpit is the truth, but you better check it for yourself. The corruption of the priests, then, affects those around them – those whom they have blessed, as well as their descendants – it now becomes a generational curse. Just as God’s blessing can be passed from generation to generation as in the priesthood, God is telling them that His curses can also be passed along. He is going to rebuke their descendants. The defiled offerings that they are offering up, He will throw them back in their face. Sacrificed animals still had waste in their systems, and the entrails were to be burned outside the sanctuary (Exodus 29:14). Here, God says He will “rub their noses in it,” so that they will have to be taken outside the sanctuary. For what purpose? “Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you.” When you become a Christian, your life is no longer your own. You were bought with a price. You are a child of the living God. You’re expected to act like it.