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Leading Justly

Bible Background Malachi 2-3 | Printed Text- Malachi 2:1-9, 3:5,6

Devotional Reading – Psalms 50:1-15

 

BACKGROUND

In our lesson today, approximately 100 years have passed since the captivity.  Homes have been rebuilt and the temple has been rebuilt, but spiritually the people’s hearts and minds were in a state of decay.  Some of the people are indulging in the same sins that caused God to allow the captivity.  Religious leaders were failing to honor God’s word.  God’s people were in a deplorable spiritual state and God was not pleased.  God called Malachi to deliver a message of judgement to the priest and the entire nation concerning their unwillingness to lead justly.

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and the last of the 12 Minor prophets of the Bible.   Theologians believe that there was no word from heaven for about 400 years between the time of Malachi and John the Baptist in the Book of Matthew.  Like the other Minor prophets, the Book of Malachi is very short and consists of only 4 chapters. 

In Malachi’s time, the priests failed to honor God and were setting poor examples for the people.  For example, instead of following the rules of worship as given in the Law of Moses, the priest would allow the people to bring defective animals for their sacrificial offering.  They were indifferent in paying their tithe, and offerings, marrying Pagans, divorcing freely and generally living spiritually corrupt and bankrupt lives.  God’s Law specified that only perfect, unblemished animals were acceptable for sacrifice.  Giving tithe and offerings were a part of worshiping God and God’s Law concerning divorce and marrying Pagans was definitively detailed The Law of Moses.  The people were called to give God their best.  Instead, they were giving God their leftovers, divorcing freely and essentially failing to honor God’s Law. The people were dishonoring to God and the behavior of the priest was a demonstration of poor leadership for the people. 

In our printed text, we see that God sent this message of warning through Malachi to the priest and all the people so that his covenant with the Levites (priest) could be renewed and continue. 

 

GOD'S WARNING TO THE PRIEST (Malachi 2: 1-4)

In our lesson, we learn that God called Malachi to warn the priest of his day.  God told the priest to make up their minds to honor His name.  If the Priest failed to honor God’s name, God would bring a terrible curse upon them and those things that were a blessing to them, such as the leftovers from the sacrificial offerings, would also be cursed.  Additionally, God would punish the descendants of the priest and splatter the priest faces with manure from their sacrifices which would lead to them becoming unclean and unfit for priestly service.  The splattering of the manure in the priest faces indicates that the priest would be burned up like the waste from the sacrifices was burned.  God said he would do all those things so that his covenant with the priest (Levites) could continue.  God’s punishment for the priest was a purging so that he could renew his covenant with the Levites and not destroy them completely.

The original purpose of God’s covenant with the Levites, back in the days of Moses, was to bring life and peace to the people.  The priest job was to serve as messengers of God.  They were to pass on God’s word to his people.  Every word from the mouth of the priest was intended to preserve knowledge of God and the people of God were to go to the priest for leadership into the righteousness of God.  However, the priest didn’t know God’s word.  They had become complacent and more concerned with personal gain instead of the word of God.  The priest of Malachi’s day couldn’t care less about what God requires.  There were some who were using their position of authority to lie, cheat and show favoritism to more prominent members of society, while the elderly, poor, widowed and other less fortunate of society suffered. Those priests left the path that God had designed for them and strayed.  Worst of all, they led the God’s people astray.  God was not pleased with the priest and the penalty for their failure was a curse on them and their descendants.

Like the people of Malachi’s day, we are also called to honor God.  We should give God our best, not those things that are leftover or those things we are ready to discard.  In the book of Leviticus, God gave the Children of Israel specific instructions on what is an acceptable sacrifice. Yet, the priest and people of Malachi’s day failed to follow God’s word.  We honor God when we strive to follow His word.  Our God requires and deserves the best that we can offer.  Therefore, we should strive daily to honor Him by giving Him our best of service in all that we do. 

 

PRIESTLY EXAMPLES (Malachi 2: 5-7)

Originally, the main purpose of God’s covenant with the Levites, back in the days of Moses, was to bring life and peace to the people.  The priest job was to serve as messengers of God.  They were to pass on God’s word to his people.  Every word from the mouth of the priest was intended to preserve knowledge of God and the people of God were to go to the priest for leadership into the righteousness of God.  However, the priest didn’t know God’s word.  They had become complacent and more concerned with personal gain instead of the accurately speaking the word of God.  The priest of Malachi’s day couldn’t care less about what God requires.  There were some who were using their position of authority to lie, cheat and show favoritism to more prominent members of society, while the elderly, poor, widowed and other less fortunate of society suffered. Those priests left the path that God had designed for them.  Worst of all, they led the God’s people astray.  God was not pleased with the priest and the penalty for their failure was a curse on them and their descendants.

As a result of depraved state of the priesthood, God’s people stumbled and were led off the path of righteousness.  God was not honored, so He made the priest despised and humiliated in the eyes of all people. Ultimately, God would judge the priest and the entire nation for their disobedience and repeated failure to honor him.

 

THE PRIEST SINS (Malachi 2: 8-9 3: 5-6)

According to our printed text, the priests have left the path that God designed for them.  Their teachings have caused God’s people to stumble into sin and they have shown favoritism in the way they carry out instruction.  As a result of their sin, God has made the priest despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people.  God is going to put the priest and the entire nation on trial and God will be the witness and judge against all sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who cheat employees of their wages, those who oppress widows and orphans, and those who deprive foreigners living among them of justice, because the actions of the priest show that they do not fear God. 

All these charges have been brought against the priest and entire nation of Israel.  They will be charged and punished accordingly, but they will not be destroyed because of God’s covenant with their processors. God is immutable and does not change. God is a promise keeper and will keep the promises He made to Jacob and his descendants.

 

The Sunday Teacher

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