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God’s Word for You

Malachi 2:7-9 Priests, faithful and unfaithful

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, February 20, 2021

7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of Armies. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have violated the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of Armies, 9 and so I have made you despised and humiliated before all the people, since you do not follow my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

The priests were commanded by God to know his law. Those who could not read or write had to memorize it, or important parts of it. The Merarites would not need to memorize the duties of the Gershonites, nor the Gershonites the duties of the Kohathites, and so on, but all the priests had to know what was expected of them. The High Priest was over all. In the tenth century BC, King Jehoshaphat sent priests and Levites from village to village teaching “the Book of the Law of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 17:7-9). Two hundred years later, Hosea said that the priests had either forgotten their duties or didn’t care (Hosea 4:6). After the exile, Ezra used Levites and priests to preach to the people (Nehemiah 8:7-8, 11). Now, a generation later, Malachi condemns them for being false teachers and leading the people astray. Paul commanded his pastors: “Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

A priest or minister who leads people away from Christ for any reason at all has dishonored the name of God and broken the Second Commandment. Jeremiah said, “‘Yes,’ declares the LORD, ‘I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, “The LORD declares”’” (Jeremiah 23:31). God’s name is profaned when people live contrary to his word, and doubly so when anyone by their teaching or example leads someone else into the same sin. Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). What a blessing it is for a parent or even a Sunday school teacher to watch their children grow in faith and put their faith into action later in life. It’s at moments like those that we come close to feeling like the servant who was given a mina by his master and produced a few more with it (Luke 19:18). No one feels worthy of the Master’s praise, but when we have done the best we could with the gifts God has given, we know that it is by the grace of God alone. God said simply: “Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully” (Jeremiah 23:28). The one who speaks will agree with the prophet: “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of trying to hold it in. Indeed, I cannot!” (Jeremiah 20:9). The faithful Christian who shares God’s word will say, “I speak as my understanding instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to utterance,”  Let the word of God work. Our task is to guard it, share it, keep it, and pass it along to the next generation.

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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