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God’s Word for You

Malachi 2:1-2 (Revisited)

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, June 12, 2021

In this chapter, Malachi has finished his rebuke of Israel’s spiritual leaders, the priests. Now he proclaims judgment (2:1-9). He will expand into a condemnation of the unfaithfulness of the people of the nation in general (2:10-16), and then he will begin to announce the coming of the Lord in judgment (2:17).

2 “And now this command is for you, O priests. 2 If you will not listen, and if you take my name to heart and give it glory, says the LORD of Hosts, then I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you do not take it to heart.

The Lord was using Malachi to condemn a new kind of idolatry. This was using the name of the true God, but without faith in him. They were not taking his name to heart. This was a faith that went through the motions, bringing sacrifices, observing holy days, and even praying (the most intimate form of worship), but without really believing that God was listening, that God would do anything, and maybe even doubting that God exists at all. This was a kind of religion that allowed the priests to make up whatever they wanted and tell people it was God’s will. It was religion that quietly closed the cover of the Bible, so as to say, “What I say is better.”

Such a false teacher might think he has the people’s best interest in mind. He might imagine that he’s doing the people a favor with new rules or a new focus for their worship, but whatever does not point to God’s grace, the forgiveness of our sins, only makes people more complacent about their sins and leads them away from God.

When God says, “I will curse your blessings,” what does he mean? Does God mean that he will take the things he has provided for his people, their material blessings, things like good crops, good weather, healthy flocks, good trade with neighbors, and it would be those things that God would curse? Or does God mean that when the priests made the blessing on the people (Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 67:1), that God would simply not send his blessing?

Perhaps both curses, or blessings withheld, are meant. The first is a common enough occurrence in the Old Testament: God withheld blessings from his people or permitted war, famine and plague in order to turn them back to faith through repentance (Numbers 11:32-33; 2 Samuel 21:1; Jeremiah 29:18). Or he decreased his blessings so that the people realized that they needed God’s providence. But God also does not send the blessing of forgiveness and eternal life through wicked men. For example, any Christian can baptize in an emergency even though God has specifically called pastors to perform the sacrament in the name of Christ.

Does that mean that we could worry about the faith of the minister who baptized our babies? No. Baptism does not depend on the faith of the one who gives it, but on the power of the word of God that makes it a true baptism. What we ask is that the words, the name of the triune God, be used: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” If a man professes to baptize in some other way, then he denies that Jesus is Lord, and there would be no baptism. “No one who is speaking by the Sprit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

God has promised his forgiveness, and he has given that blessing to you through your baptism, through the forgiveness proclaimed over you week after week in the benediction, and offered and given to you again and again in the Lord’s Supper. Embrace that forgiveness. It comes from God himself to you, and that’s a gift to cherish forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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