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?

Wisdom of God – James 3:17

Show Your Wisdom Through The Way You Live Your Life

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Pointed Progression

Paul takes care to show that each of these is part of a progression.  They happen in order for a reason – they are the building blocks of love.  If at any point we are stuck in a relationship, we should see where we are on this scale to determine if there is something that we are not doing correctly.  Of course, there are going to be times when the other person or nation will not respond to love.  Even so, we should assure ourselves that we are doing what is right in the eyes of God.

Perfectly Pure

God is holy, and His motives are always pure in nature, as well as other-focused.  Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we need to carefully consider our true, deep, inner motives to determine if we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons.  Once we establish that we are properly motivated, we can then gauge how we are interacting with our neighbors and our enemies in order to determine if we intentionally or unintentionally causing friction.

Because the ways of God are foolishness to those who reject God, this dichotomy will naturally cause friction, tension, and sometimes even breaks in our relationships with others, including those who are/were closest to us.  That is why Jesus said:

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Passionately Peaceful

Peace – it is heavenly!  We say that, but do we really think about it?  Peace allows us to build and strengthen our relationships with one another.  We need the blood of Christ to provide us peace with God.  It is only through peace that we can really flourish in the endeavors that we set our minds and hands to.

And when we are not at peace, tensions rise between people and between nations.  People are then unable to completely devote themselves to what they are doing, as they need to keep one hand on the job, and one on their weapon.  And then it is only through the grace of God that we are able to get anything accomplished.

Carefully Considerate

Once we have established that our motives are correct and that we are seeking peace with others, we can then take the time to consider the needs, wants, desires, and motivations of others.  We can then be considerate towards them.  In showing consideration towards others, it will draw us into tighter relationship.

When driving, do you appreciate it when other drivers show consideration towards you when they are faced with the option of not doing so?  Has anyone recently provided you the opportunity to merge into traffic when they didn’t need to?  Have they held a door for you when your hands were full of packages or children?  Consideration towards others is the extension of the olive branch of peace towards others.

While there are some that will indignantly scoff at a considerate gesture as though they somehow rightly deserved it, most people’s hearts will soften when it is offered in good faith.  Some may even thank you.  Considering the state of the world today, depending on what era the person grew up, they may also be grateful, or surprised that consideration is being shown today.  Be a light in the world…

Singularly Submitted

Jesus said,

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

We need to be submitted to God in order fully embrace wisdom.  Paul had this to say about submission to one another and to the Holy Spirit:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

It is through submission to others that we are able to wisely interact with them.  As we become more wise, we will become more submitted.  And as we become more submitted, we will become greater:

26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

Moved to Mercy

It is only after we get to this point that mercy, as a life-style, makes sense.  The first inclinations of our heart is to seek justice, and for many, vengeance.  But God is merciful, and vengeance is His and His alone.  Mercy is much easier to give when you have received it yourself.  Remember the mercy that God has shown you, and replicate success.  To truly gain wisdom, and flourish in relationship, it is necessary to show mercy to others.  Mercy is often the tool that God uses to break the hearts of others.  Is that not what we want to occur?  That the hearts of others would be broken towards sin, and that they would reconcile through the shed blood of Jesus Christ?  In this, it truly is good to be the enabler!

Wonderful Works

Now that we have paved the way, we are ready to bear fruit through our works.  Our attitudes towards God and others is correct; we are properly submitted to God and others; we are now showing the fruit of the Spirit.  Since we are submitted to God, He can do all that He desires to accomplish through us.  As tools in the process, rather than the taking the role of the craftsman, the fruit will be pure and good, untainted by our hands.  These are the works that will endure throughout eternity, as they were accomplished by God through us and not our own desires, which bear the taint of our sinful nature.

Inconspicuously Impartial

Since God is not a respecter of persons, we should not be either.  This is a further refinement of character and the wisdom of God, which IS His character!  When we experience the character of God, we become more like Him, and fulfill what He purposed in us to be – His image-bearers.  There is one last thing to consider – are we being truly sincere in what we are doing?

Solely Sincere

Most people recognize when you are sincere in your dealing with them.  And most people desire – secretly or openly – that other people be sincere with them.  This breaks down the barriers that are put up when we appear to be acting in a self-serving manner.  Sincerity is respected by people.  God shows us the greatest of respect in that in everything He is completely sincere.  As God’s image bearers, this should affect our interactions with others and with God.  Reciprocity of sincerity is expected.  When we don’t act in sincerity, our witness is tarnished, and our relationship with God is harmed.  When we rely upon God and His goodness and sovereignty, we are able to be sincere in all that we do, say, and think towards others and towards God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I becoming wise as I participate in God’s character as His image-bearer?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to us both through Your Word and Your Son.  Teach me the ways of wisdom so that You will be honored and glorified by my thoughts, actions, and speech.  Help me to revere You more each and every day, and show me Your wisdom through Your word.  Help me to realize the value of wisdom, and to see its value as I participate in Your character.  And may You be glorified as I bear Your image properly.  Keep me from harm, and strengthen me as I persevere through trials and tribulations.  Please prepare me so that I will be the spotless bride, ready for the bridegroom at the appointed time.  And Father, I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come, and come soon!  Amen.

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