Church leaders — priests and pastors — should teach God’s Word from the Bible without watering it down or twisting it. Additionally, they need to live it. In this next chapter of Malachi, God calls out the priests for misleading the people. He also give us lay folks a list of qualities that we should look for in a pastor or a priest. Let’s dig in…
Malachi 2 – A Warning to the Priests
“Listen, you priests—this command is for you! 2 Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart. 3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile. 4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
A Call to Faithfulness
10 Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?
11 Judah has been unfaithful, and a detestable thing has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. The men of Judah have defiled the Lord’s beloved sanctuary by marrying women who worship idols. 12 May the Lord cut off from the nation of Israel every last man who has done this and yet brings an offering to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
13 Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. 14 You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
15 Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 16 “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”Malachi 2 NLT
We’ll uncover God’s next reply tomorrow.
Qualities of Good Pastors, Ministers and Priests
Undoubtedly, these are tough to pinpoint if you don’t know what to look for. Remember in yesterday’s passage that the people were not bringing the proper sacrifices to the temple? Well, who told the people it was OK to sacrifice blemished or sick animals? Of course, it was the bad priests. Priests who knew better. Maybe they were paid off. We don’t know the details. In any rate, these are the qualities of a good, true pastor… He…
- Fears the Lord — that means respecting and standing in awe of God and His power.
- Speaks the Truth — sticking to what is biblical, without watering it down, or twisting it to mean something totally different. You won’t hear, “Oh, that’s not really what it means…”
- Walks with God — He lives a life of integrity. He practices what he preaches and makes a good role model for his parishioners. Definitely not like the Catholic priests with these horrendous secrets!
- Teaches and preaches from the Bible — the Word of God — without skipping over the hard parts. We can read the Bible, but a good preacher helps it speak to us, so we understand and can obey it. Even way before the Reformation, the church failed to educated the people with the truth.
In his commentary on Malachi, Martin Luther wrote…
“This is a passage against those who hold the spoken Word in contempt. The lips are the public reservoir of the church. Unless the Word is preached publicly, it slips away. The more it is preached, the more firmly it is retained. Reading it is not as profitable as hearing it, for the live voice teaches, exhorts, defends, and resists the power of error. Satan does not care a hoot for the written Word of God, but he flees at the speaking of the Word. This penetrates hearts and leads back those who stray. Preaching is a channel through which the Holy Spirit is given.”Martin Luther
I highly recommend the free YouVersion Bible app. Several of the Bible versions have an audio feature, so you can listen to the Word as you read it. My personal favorite is the NLT (New Living Translation). There are also a lot of solid biblical Christian podcasts. I’ll have a list of them soon.
Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
There’s power in public preaching. The true minister is faithful to “preach the Word in season and out of season” – in other words, when it’s convenient and inconvenient, when it’s popular and unpopular, when it’s received and when it’s rejected. The minister is not merely a speaker, He’s God’s messenger. The faithful pastor fears the Lord, speaks the truth, walks with God, and teaches God’s Law. Let’s pray for more men to take up this mantle.
The priest’s of Malachi’s day doctored the message. They wanted to be more popular than biblical. They catered to itching ears and told folks what they wanted to hear, not necessarily what they needed to hear. And since they had deceived publicly, they were rebuked publicly. To prove to the people the error of their teaching, God will bring on them a public disgrace!Sandy Adams
When you have the Holy Spirit in your heart, He helps you discern and recognize when a supposedly biblical message is watered down or twisted. Do you have the Holy Spirit? That is a Gift you get when you become a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. It’s just one of the many benefits!
God Hates Divorce
One of the reasons I never married has to do with witnessing the divorces of many friends and relatives. They, being Catholic, married young just so they could sleep with their spouse. See, sex outside of marriage — fornication — is against God’s rules. However, so is divorce. It seems like the stigma of divorce was somehow removed. People were marrying and saying, “Hey, if it doesn’t work, we’ll just get divorced.” I remember a good-looking friend of my cousin’s had 4 ex-wives! He wanted to go out with me, but when I found out, I said, sorry, I’m not going to be #5! Understand, too, that at that time, I was living the life of a prodigal. I was not yet born again, neither were any of the people I hung out with.
The message here is that God loves a good marriage between one man and one woman. Pastor Sandy Adams explains…
God created marriage. Marriage was God’s idea. After everything that God created, He pronounced that “it was good.” God said, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Malachi is clear, marriage is not the innovation of man. God created it and loves it. He considers it a holy, sacred, special institution, and so should we! Yet the people of Malachi’s day defiled the institution of marriage. They marred God’s sacred institution in at least two ways: First, they married unbelievers, and second, they engaged in unbiblical divorce…
God didn’t want a believer to marry an unbeliever. He knew the power of marriage – the incredible bond that develops when a man and a woman unite their hearts as one. After you’re married the word “together” means more than ever before. When you’re married you’re together for better or worse. Spouses rub off on each other. And in the case of marrying an unbeliever, God knew it would be a small jump from them climbing into bed and then bowing before an idol together….
In Haggai 3 the prophet is asked two questions… First, “If one carries holy meat does what it touch become holy?” And the answer was “NO!” Holiness is not communicable. You can’t catch it or pass it on to someone else without them willingly receiving it. The second question was, “If one who is unclean touches anything will it become unclean?” And this answer was “YES.”
Holiness isn’t communicable, but wickedness is! If you run with the wrong crowd – with wicked people – their wickedness will rub off on you! And so it is in marriage, if you marry an unbeliever there’s a far greater chance for you to get dragged down to their level than for you to elevate them to yours! At the least, your walk with the Lord will be hindered. You’ll not just go it alone. It’ll be like walking with an anvil tied to your leg. Rather than coming home for encouragement your home will become a battleground.Sandy Adams
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, all of a sudden I found a lot of things offensive. Everything from secular music, TV shows, movies, ads, as well as going to bars and drinking. I accepted His holiness. I prefer to hang out with believers and try to talk with unbelievers to guide them to the truth. If you’d like to dig deeper into this, watch all of Pastor Sandy Adam’s message in this video…
Blaspheming God’s Truth
Malachi finishes the chapter with…
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”Malachi 2:17 NLT
That seems to be describing today’s world! “All who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and He is pleased with them?”
20 Woe to those who call evil goodIsaiah 5:20 NIV
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Paul warned us…
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT
In the NKJV, it says “perilous times”, which is a stronger word than “difficult”. The dictionary defines perilous as, “full of danger or risk” and “exposed to imminent risk of disaster or ruin”. That sounds more like today’s world. The problem is that pastors are NOT teaching the truth of God’s Word! It’s sad. Unfortunately, there will be many pastors left behind at the Rapture. They claim to know who Jesus is, they call themselves Christians, yet they don’t KNOW JESUS in their hearts.
Do you KNOW JESUS?
He wants to know you!