What’s it all about? The priests, who had been chosen to teach and lead the people in true worship, demonstrated that they did not believe or trust God. Their rebellion, however, received a swift and serious response. If the priests did not repent and once again honor God’s name, they would be disqualified from ministry and would suffer humiliation before the people.
So what? Those who lead God’s people must be servants who demonstrate they trust and honor the LORD. The priests of Malachi’s day, however, did not respect or revere God. As a result, they were leading the people astray. God’s rebuke of the priests demonstrates that He will not tolerate compromised leadership. Modern leaders would do well to heed the warnings of Malachi’s oracles. That is, lead and serve with integrity, which is demonstrated by a commitment to biblical worship, because God will not tolerate compromised leadership.
1. Why were the priests rebuked by God (2:1-2)?
2. What does the metaphorical promise to “spread dung” on the faces of the priests reveal about God’s attitude toward compromised leadership (2:3)?
3. What did God expect of the Levites when he made a covenant with them (Duet. 10:8, 21:5, 33:8-11; Num. 25:12), and how were the priests of Malachi’s day neglecting these responsibilities (2:4-6)?
4. What does God expect from those who lead (2:6-7)?
5. How did the failed leadership of the priests affect the people (2:8-9)?
Now what? Our worship reveals our theology, therefore, we must reject any worship that exalts humanity above God or calls into question the character or nature of God. We must base our worship on the foundational truths of the gospel:
1) God is Holy; 2) Humanity is in rebellion; 3) Jesus’ death paid (atoned) for our sins; 4) Salvation is by grace through faith, and not by works; and 5) Believers will persevere to the end and be glorified with Christ.
“And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.” (Malachi 2:1-9 ESV)
Individual Study Questions – Scripture: 2 and 3 John
1. How should Christians respond to preachers/leaders who are not teaching the truth (2 John 7-11)?
2. How should Christians support missionaries and preachers who are teaching the truth (3 John 5-8)?
3. Compare the leadership styles of Diotrephes and Demetrius (3 John 9-12).
4. Based on 2 and 3 John what does it mean to “walk in the truth?”
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we[a] have worked for, but may win a full reward.9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (2 John 7-11, ESV).
Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true (3 John 5-12)