Reading For Tuesday Malachi 2:1-17
The Priestly decline, disrepute, and disrespect demanded punishment. The contemptuous attitude of the priests merited punishment from the Lord. The priests would face the commandment of judgment if they did not listen. Failure to submit to God's requirements would bring down his curse.
The curse would also include their “blessings” as well. God states that the curse or wrath of God had already begun to work in the ministries of these priests. The turning of a blessing into a curse was considered severe punishment. God would rebuke their children. The spreading dung reference may point to rendering the priests unclean and unfit for the discharge of their functions. The priests would be treated with contempt by the people, and they would be swept out of office.
In a covenant, one is bound by a solemn oath to perform certain responsibilities. Socially, a nation is in dysfunction when such covenants are broken. Spiritually, the breaking of one’s pledge brings the wrath of God. The covenant with the tribe of Levi involved certain privileges and responsibilities. Malachi first sets forth the goal of that ancient covenant. He then points out how the priests of his day had shattered the ideal image of the priesthood. At Mt. Sinai God specified that the tribe of Levi, led by Aaron, would be set aside for priestly service. The family of Aaron occupied the priesthood, and the remainder of the tribe had secondary responsibilities. It seems that those first priests took their responsibilities seriously and carried out their functions reverently. The priests were not to teach their own views; they were to teach only the infallible and unchangeable truth as revealed in the written word. They were not to twist the law for their preferences. Their legal decisions were to be made without prejudice. The priest was to be pious in conduct and knowledgable. The priest was the messenger of the Lord. These priests had turned from pursuing holiness and caused many to stumble along the way. They brought corruption, were despised by the people, and showed partiality in their instruction and judgments.
God was the father of Israel, and he chose Israel as his own people. Intermarriage with pagans defiled the covenant "of our fathers.” Abomination is the term is used to describe pagan idolatry and immorality. In Jerusalem, the site of the temple and capital of the nation, the abomination was evident. Those who had disregarded God’s command to refrain from marriage with the heathen would face a terrible judgment. Propitiatory offerings would not pacify the Lord. One cannot hope to find forgiveness for sins deliberately committed without genuine repentance and discontinuation of the offensive act. Marriage was instituted by God and governed by his law. In Malachi’s day, the people had forgotten the fundamental purpose of marriage. Divorce under the law of Moses was permitted under very particular circumstances. Unlawful divorce was another sin against the covenant which had become standard. Intermarriage with unbelievers had created a barrier between these sinners and God and he could no longer regard with favor any of their offerings. The guilty men denied responsibility while there was wailing at the altar. However, God had been a witness between each offender and the wife of his youth. The language indicates the seriousness of divorce. God joined together man and wife in a union which is to be severed only by death. Their vows of fidelity had been exchanged before God and men, and those marriage covenants had been put asunder.
Finally, Malachi addressed the cynicism of the people. The people felt that God was not doing what he should in addressing the issues they felt were unfair. God was wearied of his people persisting in sin. God had demonstrated his faithfulness over and over, and yet his people were faithless. They walked in ongoing patterns of disobedience. Even the reminder of the covenant with the priests pointed to God's faithfulness. They even had the audacity to question God's justice. God's people, beginning with the religious leaders, were not obeying God. They were faithless, treacherous, covered with violence, and cynical toward their God.
Things To Consider:
- What does it tell you about the priests if Malachi had to remind them of the covenant and how it worked?
- What are some ways that you honor God?
- What are ways that we can guard knowledge and seek instruction from the Lord?
- What are ways that religious leaders cause people to stumble through their instructions?
- Why does God require believers to marry other believers?
- How would you counsel someone that is dating an unbeliever?
- Why do you think Christian marriages struggle?
- Why do you think God delays in doing things that people expect?
- Do you think that your prayers can be hindered when you are walking in patterns of disobedience?
- What are ways that you question God? Do you think it is possible to question God without being sinful? Why?