Today we are praying for the country of South Korea. Please help us lift up this nation to the Lord today. You can follow the two links below to learn more about the nation and its unreached people groups. You can watch the video below to help guide you in your prayers.
Please take time to meditate on the devotion for today as well.
Please join us in praying for this nation by joining in prayer with the video below.
As we continue our study of Malachi, we have been focusing our attention on the God of Israel, who is revealing Himself to His people over and over again in this prophecy as The Lord of Hosts. This title conveys for us the reality that this God is the commander in chief of an army of angels. He is the commanding officer of myriads and myriads of heavenly and earthly beings. He is absolutely almighty, sovereign and in control.
From this title we have learned in chapter 1:1-5 that The Lord of Hosts has the freedom, right, and power to bestow His love, mercy, and grace on whomever He chooses. Likewise, The Lord of Hosts has the freedom, right, and power to bestow His anger, wrath, and judgement on whomever He chooses.
Then, in verses 6-14 we saw that The Lord of Hosts is so gloriously holy that His mighty Name will be magnified, great, and reverently feared from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Now, in our text, we will see that The Lord of Hosts, by His very nature, demands honor from His people, disciplines His people, and keeps covenant with His people in spite of His people. We read:
And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do 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; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. 3 Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. 4 Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,” says the LORD of hosts. 5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 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 hosts. 8 But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts. 9 “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.”
As we think about the reality that the Lord of Hosts, by His very nature, demands honor from His people, disciplines His people, and keeps covenant with His people in spite of His people we will see 4 major things that affirm that from this text.
I. A Commandment v1
This passage begins with a very clear commandment. Malachi 2:1 states, “And now this commandment is for you, O priests.” What commandment is Malachi referring to? We saw the commandment that He is referring to back in Malachi 1:6-14. Simply put, the command is: The Lord of Hosts is so gloriously holy that His mighty Name will be magnified, great, and reverently feared from Jerusalem to the Ends of the earth. In other words, God’s name is to be, and will be, honored and worshipped. This is verified and affirmed in verse 2: “If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name…” So, God issues His command to the priests in Malachi 1:6-2:1 and reiterates it in Malachi 2:2. Honor My name!
II. A Curse v2-3
The text begins with a commandment and then moves into a curse. We read in verses 2-3, “If you do not listen, and if you do 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; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. 3 Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.” The curse God threatens them with is four-fold. First, God declares that He will send the curse upon them. In the middle of verse 2 we read, “then I will send the curse upon you.” Malachi says, “the” curse. What is the curse? Malachi is likely referring to the curse they knew quite well described in Deuteronomy 28. This curse in Deuteronomy 28 can be summarized as a curse accompanied by ruin, disease, drought, famine, illness, defeat by enemies, and ultimately destruction. The sense in which God makes this threat is literally: “This is no idle threat, for the curse is even now upon you because of your sin; you are condemned already!”
Secondly, God declares that He will curse their blessings. The latter part of verse 2 says, “I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.” What does Malachi mean by this threat? He could have meant one of two things. First, he could mean that God will take their perceived blessings and turn them into curses. Sometimes our blessings are really our curses because they short-circuit our appetite for God. We are quick to declare that our prosperity, possessions, security, and comfort in the west are all blessings from God. However, if our prosperity and possessions crowd out our love for God are they really blessings? If our security and comfort causes us to be independent, proud, and apathetic towards God, are they really blessings? Our blessings can become curses quite easily. The Psalmist said, “May their table before them become a snare; And when they are in peace, may it become a trap. 23 May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see, And make their loins shake continually” (Psalm 69:22-23). May their perceived blessings become their downfall! That was the Psalmist’s prayer for his enemies, and that could be God’s threat to His priests.
Another possibility of what Malachi means in the latter part of verse 2 is that God will take their blessings and make them curses instead. God will curse their blessings…the blessings that they pronounced upon the people. In other words, their ministry becomes a plague rather than a blessing to God's people. The priests can do their best to carry out their duties. They can attempt to talk to God for the people. They can attempt to talk to the people for God. But, any efforts they make to bless the people under their care, God will turn to curses. Their ministries will be counter productive to say the least.
Notice the very end of verse 2. He is sending these curses upon them because they are not taking His Word to heart! God can see beyond the priests actions and to their very hearts. They might comply outwardly, but if they fail to comply inwardly, God will not be pleased. He knows they are not taking His Word to heart. It is not penetrating their hearts. Therefore He has already sent the curse upon them. This leads us to a natural question. Do we take God’s Word to heart? Do we really believe God’s Word? Does it get beyond the surface and into our hearts? God knows.
God has informed them that He is sending “the curse” upon them as well as cursing their blessings for not taking His Word to heart. He goes on in verse 3 to say that he is going to curse their offspring. God says, “Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.” The curse will extend far beyond their own private selves. I am led to think here of Eli in 1 Samuel 2-4. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas were despising God’s Name, defiling God’s altar, and displeasing God in worship because of Eli’s passiveness as judge in Israel. The story ends tragically when the Philistines defeat Israel, kill Hophni and Phinehas in battle, and capture the ark of the covenant of God. When the news reaches Eli, he falls off of his stool backward and breaks his neck because he was old and frail and overweight. Then Phinehas’ wife goes into labor with a son and dies after the birth. Before she passed away, she summarized the whole situation with the name she chose for her son: Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed from Israel.” Exodus 20:4-6 warns, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Finally, God summarizes the extent of His displeasure by threatening them with open sham in the latter part of verse 3. “I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.” God will make them as despised and contemptible as possible among the people. By symbolically rubbing feces on their faces, a visual is given to them of what their worthless sacrifices look like to Him. It seems as though they are rubbing filth in the very face of God every time they offer a sacrifice. But before we judge them too severely we need to recognize if we are trying to earn favor with God through our “good works” we are doing the same thing to Him. If we think we can be good enough, read enough, pray enough, go to church enough, or give enough to be worthy of His pleasure, we are rubbing filth in the face of God who gave His Son so that we might be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Isaiah 64:6 says, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” But I love Zechariah 3:1-5. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” 5 Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the LORD was standing by.” Joshua is clothed in filthy garments! But those garments are removed and replaced by the angel of the Lord. That is how it must be with us as well. We bring all of our sin, iniquity, transgressions, and even our faux righteousness to Him and surrender it all. He removes our filthy garments and clothes us with clean garments. This is the power of the gospel. It is the exact opposite of the curse!
Tomorrow we will see the covenant and the corruption of the priests and the climactic conclusion of this text! Until then...
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