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Truth: Malachi 2:5-9

Malachi: REFOCUSED
Truth: Malachi 2:5-9
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday October 24, 2021

Today, we have four verses, profound truth about living and a call to action. We’re not here for entertainment. We’re here for the truth, so in that focus, let’s go.

Malachi 2:5–9 (ESV)
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.”

We are still under the words of chapter two’s opening focus: “And now, O priests, this command is for you.”

God calls for the attention of the priests through his messenger Malachi and says to them in the second verse:

“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.”

We noted last week, that there is a call to return here, in this second verse; if you “will not listen” means, you CAN listen to me; much of what followed was, why you should listen (because this will happen, and it was pretty tense).

Then came our section today. The prophet Malachi has introduced the focus on the priesthood, then gives them a call to return. We said last week it was twofold: 1) listen, 2) take heart – both of those are focused on their knowing and holding the Word as a center of defining their decisions and lives – the Word. Which we too have, and even have more fully.

In our texts today, in verses 5/6, we read:

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.

So who are “him” and “them.” My Covenant with “him” is Levi, which refers to the tribe or descendants of Levi who are the priests for the nation of Israel. Them is ‘life and peace”, so through the Covenant with Levi, thought the descendants came to life and peace, but they’re through the Covenant. “Life and Peace” here – if you write that down, “life and peace” is a picture of a whole, complete life.

I tell my kids all the time, look, I don’t want to live in strife. I enjoy life and peace. Be a good citizen of the home, don’t bring in drama, be helpful, and we’ll all live together in peace. There are rules to follow, character, and conduct. We’ll have small corrections as we all go – but we’ll have not just life, but life AND peace.

So, the Covenant that came to the priesthood and the priestly line was one offering complete life. It’s a “covenant of fear[…]”.

It’s good to live that way to God’s glory.

Covenant of fear

So the people in verse 5 had been warned in verse 3.

Malachi 2:3 (ESV)
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.

Are now freshly reminded that the full life offered up through God’s Covenant with the priests causes a living in fear, why, because living outside of God’s boundaries (for life and worship) gets us sideways with him (a) and can enact some strange consequences (b). While our primary concern should be a, b is real.

Consider the story of Phinehas. I’m leaving you with him as homework, read Numbers 25:6-18, and see God’s involvement and the duty of the priestly line to perform in accordance with God’s revealed Will for the good of the people, a) alignment with God and b) real consequences.

Numbers 25:6-18 (ESV)
6 And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting.
7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand
8 and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped.
9 Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.


The Zeal of Phinehas
10 And the Lord said to Moses,
11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy.
12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace,
13 and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”
14 The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites.
15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.
16 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
17 “Harass the Midianites and strike them down,
18 for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”

And so, that is the priests’ very real job and charge, and how God has covenanted with them and Israel.

Exodus 19:5–6 (ESV)
5 Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep My Covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;
6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

A covenant of fear, and he “the obedient line of Levi, the priesthood feared me and stayed in awe of my name.” So now, we’ll be helping the priesthood (called to the carpet in chapter 2 verse 1) see themselves as differentiated from the fearful living of faithful priests before them. Last week, we talked about furries and cosplay. If you weren’t here, this sounds weird, I know, when I sit at a dinner table with a man dressed as a bunny, generally speaking, I don’t have to show him why he isn’t a bunny – because his cosplay is of another type of being, he is not of like type. Whereas the unfaithful priest is of the same type as the faithful; and so this discourse helps them to differentiate between the fearful-faithful who God covenanted with, and those who were playing the part, the cosplay priests who unless they turned to the Word would have (verse 3) dung spread on their faces and who’s very blessings would become curses. How again were the faithful priests who lived in fear and had a complete life different – verse 6:

Malachi 2:6 (ESV)
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.

Before we dive in, a poetic structure jumps out in verses 6-7 and provides a compare and contrast type of list for the priests of 2:1 to focus on, the lips and knowledge, the outworking of that posturing. We see verse 6 proper rulings in his mouth and nothing perverse on his lips, verse 7 the lips of the priest guarding knowledge, and men seeking a verdict from his mouth. These are pulled together.

Malachi 2:1 (ESV)
The Lord Rebukes the Priests
1 “And now, O priests, this command is for you.

Verse 6, “emit” true instruction “torah” or law how should the law be applied to life, the priests would give true instruction on that for a complete life, life and peace. Their job wasn’t to wear a costume and hold a role. It was to help people work out God’s revealed character and will.

Haggai 2:10–17
Blessings for a Defiled People
10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet,
11 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law:
12 ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’ ” The priests answered and said, “No.”
13 Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.”
14 Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the Lord, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.
15 Now then, consider from this day onward. Before stone was placed upon stone in the temple of the Lord,
16 how did you fare? When one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were but twenty.
17 I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the Lord.

We see this here in Haggai, telling the people how to work out the word of the law of the Lord.

In addition, verse 6 would say, no wrong was found on his lips, and he walked with me in peace and uprightness. We’re perhaps thinking of pre-fallen Adam walking with God in the garden or Noah in Genesis 6:9 if you think of following after God while being mocked by a crazed world of raging lunatics and trying to keep a family together.

Genesis 6:9 (ESV)
Noah and the Flood
9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

The priests who were faithful in Covenant, who are contrasted now to the cosplay priests of Malachi’s warning here who need to turn back to absorbing and living out God’s revealed will in His Word, see that they’re not living out fear, they’re not teaching true instruction, their very lips are different from those in Covenant with God from earlier lines of Eli, they may be of like form, but the substance is different.

Perhaps they’d hear this next part and be cut; Malachi 2:6 “[…]and he turned many from iniquity”, oh man that burns. They’re so differentiated from me, by the words of their lips and their motives, that their fruits are entirely different from mine. Hey, turn many from iniquity, and I deserve to have poop on my face (Malachi 2:3). But – remember what God is doing, protecting and upbuild his kingdom of priests, they’re called back to 1) listen, 2) take heart; perhaps their return will not only give them fuller lives, not only call THEM to live in fear but allow them to turn the people from iniquity, inspiring others to follow after God – and that is God’s purpose with the priesthood and Israel;

John 3:16-19 (ESV)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Malachi 2:7–9 (ESV)
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.

This is the satisfaction of the structure in verse 6, the differentiation between the lips of the faithful priests in Covenant after Levi and those on the carpet from chapter 2 and verse 1.

How did we get here, maybe they’d ask:

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.”

This is keenly important today. Yes, the priest’s office was satisfied with our perfect priestly mediator, Jesus; however, there are aspects of God’s faithful goodness and consistency that help us understand much.

What then about today:
There is no order of people, pastors, elders, deacons (Church leadership) who are over and above Christian living and God’s revealed will in scripture. I think I told the story once of a music star who’d asked (not at this Church but another I attended in another state) who asked for special entrance and exit as well as entry/exit times and a reserved/guarded spot to sit in the Church.

It is good to live in fear to God’s glory, to be consistent with God’s revealed will in scripture, and too perhaps, bring others to the same.
This has always been and remains God’s purpose.
There is an eternal warning through the priesthood of Malachi’s day to the Pastors of today. It’s in verse 7:

Malachi 2:7 (ESV)
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.

In a similar way that the priest was to teach God’s revealed will, Jesus, the final priest, satisfying that structure;

Hebrews 7:12 (ESV)
12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.

Jesus, our Lord, set up the church:

Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Ephesians 2:20–22 (ESV)
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Pastors’ teaching in the gathered church should focus on the worship of a Holy God through studying His revealed will. No cosplay, like was warned of the Priests in our passage. No neglecting God’s Will and living outside of His revelation, no half-life, no avoidance of truth’s proclamation to appease dead/dying men. Like the Priest of Malachi 2:7, people should seek truth in the Church and instruction from the Pastor. Through that faithfulness, some will be turned through the word (Isaiah 55:11).

Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Not Entertainment, TRUTH.

Then we as Christians should seek to LIVE for God’s glory, to live out loud because He is excellent, let us be a people who keep his glory on our lips, lives in the light of the fear of Him, and find’s fullness in that way of life – all for His glory.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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