“Listen, you priests – this command is for you. 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. 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. 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.
“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. 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.
“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. 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. “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.” Malachi 2:1-9
This was a difficult message for the priests to hear that day, but being a priest is a sacred honor, a Divine privilege – and an honor and privilege that they had obviously forgotten. Rather than stand in awe, they did awful things.
Now, it would be easy to think, “it sucks to be them,” but that would be wrong. The apostle Peter wrote that we are “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). As believers, we are today’s priests, thus, the prophet’s words should cause us to pause, to ask ourselves, “Are we fulfilling the sacred duty with the right attitudes and actions?”
Note Malachi’s words. The first thing he tells them was they had dishonored God’s name by serving Him in a careless way (Malachi 2:1-3). Paul wrote, “Let your manner of your life be worthy of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). In other words, do not live carelessly.
The second thing Malachi said was they were ungrateful for God’s covenant, which was vital, because that covenant was key to their priestly service (Malachi 2:4-6). In this world, it is easy to lose sight of what, and Who, matters and start relying on ourselves. However, Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Finally, they did not hold to God’s Word as their authority, but rather, began to lead people astray by impressing upon them their own truths and teachings (Malachi 2:7-9).
So, how are we doing? Have we been careless in our worship of Him and how we live? Have we grown complacent, callous, and self-serving? Is the Word of God our authority, and are we being obedient to what it instructs? May we never forget, being saved is a marvelous gift, but it comes with an incredible, and eternal, responsibility.