Priests of God – Malachi 2:1-9

A Warning To Priests To Be Holy Before The Lord

1 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 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.

3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.

7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

Coming Curse

The prophet Malachi gave a warning to the Levitical priests.  Because of their unrighteousness, God would turn their blessings into curses.  This would be the sign that God used to show the people that He would not tolerate their immoral behavior.  It is a terrible thing when the people who are responsible for administering the law do so in such a way that God’s name is disgraced.  With great privilege comes great responsibility, and God assured the people that He wouldn’t turn a blind eye to what was going on.

Regal Reverence

God expected His priests – the people who administered the law and provided instruction to the people – to be holy before Him, righteous and blameless (not sinless, for everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).  God would reassure the people that He took his covenant with Levi seriously, and that He would not allow the corrupt priests to dishonor His holy name nor their position.

Tell the Truth

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”  Jesus was the embodiment of the word of the living God.  He was truth personified.  Everything that He said was truth, and their was no deceit on His lips.  The priests were to act as the spokespersons for God, and they needed to tell the truth to the people.  When the priests were deceitful, and warped the word of God towards their own ends, they were in effect marring the image of God.

God does not take this lightly.  Jesus has had the harshest words of criticism for those who have been entrusted with guiding the people who follow Satan as their father:

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

What a terrible thing it was then when the priests of God, the descendants of Levi, turned from God and turned towards Satan, and allowed falsehood to come to their lips.  This should be a wake-up call to all who are called by God to be priests, even of the order of Melchizedek, to speak only the truth.  God is truth, and there is no falsehood in Him.  The priests of Melchizedek must also walk a life where truth is their native tongue, that they may honor God in their speech and actions

Honorable and Holy

The covenant that God had with Levi and his progeny was a covenant of reverence towards God.  The Levitical priests were to be honorable and holy before God.  They were required to keep themselves from unclean things, and to wash and prepare in special ways before they would offer the sacrifices of the people to God.

Although everyone is held to the same standard for what they do, the priests were held more accountable before God because of their position and influence that God had provided to them.  God expected much more from them, for they understood the law and what God required.  Their knowledge and position demanded a higher standard of adherence to God’s requirements to be holy before Him.

Partiality in Precept

And one of the worst things that the priests did was to subvert the justice of God.  They showed partiality in the law.  It is very similar to allowing the Former Secretary of State of the United States of America to disseminate classified information through unlawful means to be exonerated from the penalties associated with that crime, while people of lesser stature were jailed and fined for far less serious crimes of a similar nature.

When partiality of the law is encountered, the faith of the people in justice dwindles, and the holiness of God is tarnished.  The people may attribute false characteristics to God, because the very people God has chosen to display his righteousness and justice have, in treason to God, perverted justice and dishonored His name.  And their blessing will be turned into curses.  God may be so greatly offended that He would divinely intervene in the election of officials of a nation to show His displeasure and place people who would fear Him and restore faith of the people in His good name, even through people who have sinned greatly against Him.  For God is able to forgive and use people who are willing to serve Him and yield to Him.

And to those who hate and despise the God of the Bible, and refuse to acknowledge His name and character by profaning His name through their actions and speech?  God will turn their blessings into curses, and bring ruination upon their families for generations.  Learn, therefore, you leaders of the world, that God will not tolerate your injustice and hatred forever.  God is being gracious, and giving all of you the opportunity to come to Him.  You are cordially invited by Almighty God to participate in His gracious offer to repent of your sins, and to be cleansed by the precious shed blood of the Son of God.  Avail yourselves of this opportunity while you still have it.  Do not delay, lest you find yourselves one day in that dire situation where you no longer have the opportunity to voluntarily do so, and face the white throne judgement of God, rather than the grace and mercy that God extents to you now.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I properly reflecting the holiness of God in word and in deed?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You call out to us day and night, and woo us to You with your kindness, compassion, grace and mercy.  Help me to turn from all of my wicked ways so that I would instead embrace Your holiness and righteousness.  Grant me the ability to desire with my whole heart to honor and glorify Your name.  And help me to submit myself to Your Holy Spirit, that in the same way that Christ yielded Himself to You, that I would yield myself to You as well.  Forgive me of my sin, and be Lord of my life, for You are perfect, and everything that You do is right.  You know what must need to be done, and I pray that You would give my every thought, word, and deed in Your righteousness, for You and You alone deserve all of the glory and honor that comes from what You do through me.  This I ask in Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Transition of Power – 1 Chronicles 11:1-3

The Whole People Should Recognize The Leader That God Has Chosen

1 All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel.

A Great Gathering

After Saul died, all of Israel came together as a group.   This was important, for it showed unanimous consensus among God’s people that they recognized the transition of leadership to David.  Samuel had anointed David’s head with oil as the next king over a decade prior.  And now, that promise of God was being fulfilled.

Royal Recognition

It is important that all of them recognized the transition of power.  Rather than refuse to acknowledge the new king, they embraced him as God intended as one people.  It is very difficult when questionable circumstances overshadow the transition of power.  That can divide a nation and cause irreparable harm to the unity of the people.  It has been said, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The enemies of peace have long understood this concept, and work tirelessly in opposition to unity in order to foment discontent and resentment towards the leaders that they do not like.  When a nation is torn in two this way, the nation is being set up to be financially pillaged and eventually overrun.  There is great profit in confusion.

In this particular case, the people pulled together to recognize David as their new king.  The ardent followers of Saul supported David.  They did not try to stage a coup and insert their own candidate for king.  This served to unite the people even more.

A Climatic Covenant

David not only assumed the throne, he made a covenant with the people.  He did not merely take a verbal oath, he made a promise that carried with it the penalty of death should it not have been held up.  David was a servant to the people.  He shepherded them as God intended, rather than seek His own glory, power, and recognition apart from The Lord God Almighty.  This solidified his position with the people and gave him the accountability necessary to ensure that he would take promise and responsibility towards the people with the gravest of attitudes.

The Powerful Promise

By uniting the people, recognizing his role, and taking the necessary steps to ensure his accountability, the promise that God had made to David was fully secured in the support of the people.  Samuel’s anointing of David’s head as the next ruler of the people of Israel was complete, and he was able to rule them in joy and with God’s protection and power.  God demonstrated His choice of David as His chosen vessel of authority over men in that He increased David’s power and influence among them.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to accept the leadership that God has placed over me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have placed leaders over us for our protection and to bring about Your will.  Help me to be supportive of Your decisions, and to do my very best to submit to leaders who are yielded to You.  Father, I ask that You would strengthen and encourage the men and women You have chosen as leaders over me to yield themselves to You.  Help them to become the servant-leaders that You desire them to be.  Give me the strength to endure wicked leaders when You send them as judgment upon a nation, and to encourage all to pray for the people who are under difficult leadership that they would call out to You, and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, that You would heal the land.  Bless the leaders that You have chosen with wisdom, restraint, and advisors that would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Cries for Justice – Psalm 74:18-23

God Is A God Of Justice As Well As Compassion, Grace, And Mercy.

18 Remember how the enemy has mocked you, Lord,
how foolish people have reviled your name.
19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
20 Have regard for your covenant,
because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the
land.
21 Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
may the poor and needy praise your name.
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long.
23 Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries,
the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Remembering Rancor

God is a God of justice.  He will not forget His holiness or righteousness.  When faced with people who hate God and seek the ruination of His people, it is alright to ask God to remember their rancorous actions.  God knows everything, but when we cry out to Him for help, we confirm His righteousness and agree with it.  God is also a God of mercy and grace.  We need to keep everything in balance.

Appeal for Assistance

God hears our cries for assistance and intervenes on our behalf.  He is not deaf to our appeals for intervention nor does He wish us undue harm.  We must also remember that in everything God is a God of timing.  And the difficult situations we find ourselves in at the moment may be necessary for some greater part of His plan.  More than once God has used the suffering of His people to bring about the conversion of an unbeliever through their dedication and faithfulness to God, regardless of their circumstances.  Be faithful in praying for help from the unrighteous, and be prepared to wait for His timing.

Completing the Covenant

God has not forgotten His covenant with us.  He is unable to forget it.  It is not wrong, however, to ask Him to remember it.  We appeal to God’s character as we ask for His help.  When we do so, we are magnifying and confirming His character and our faith in God’s righteousness.  We should never give up hope while waiting for God’s timing, and continually remind ourselves of His faithfulness by appealing to His character – that God is unable to break His covenants.

Remembering Righteousness

In times when it seems that God will not defend Himself against the attacks of the enemy, we must remind ourselves of God’s righteousness.  And while in the present time the pain and suffering seem unbearable, it is for our sanctification that God permits these trials in our lives.

God has not forgotten about His righteousness, nor has He shed it.  He is waiting for us to grow and believe in His character regardless of our circumstances.  God will mete out justice for the ones who reject Him continually, regardless of the opportunities that they have been provided.  And many times, the destruction of the righteous are used as an opportunity for the unrighteous to repent.

God is a just God, and justice will prevail.  Let us never cease to remember His character, nor fail to appeal to it in times of trouble or even our own destruction.  In all things, may God be given glory, praise, and honor, even in our cries for His justice.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: When faced with difficulties that overwhelm us, am I being patient, waiting upon God’s timing, and appealing to His character as faithfully as He is faithful?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have said that You will never leave us nor forsake us.  In this time of great injustice, remember me.  The oppression of the righteous is overwhelming me.  I am being crushed on all sides.  Remember the evil of my enemies, O God.  In righteousness, deliver me from their injustice, for You are a just and holy God.  Do not let their actions crush my spirit, but renew my spirit within me.  Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, and be merciful to all who oppress me, for they know not what they are doing.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?