“And now, O priests, this command is for you. 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. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 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. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. 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. 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. 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. 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, 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.” – Malachi 2:1–9
Allen P. Ross writes:
Malachi had to deal with a variety of sins among the clergy and the people. In chapter 1 he focused on their “cheap” worship and contempt for the ritual; and in the second half of this chapter he will address the problem of divorce and marriage to pagans. Whenever there are such violations, it almost always is connected to corrupt teaching. Somehow the people had the idea that these things were not serious sins, or that they could do them and get away with them. Malachi turns in this passage therefore to lay the blame where it belongs: with the priests and their false teaching. Blaming the priests for the problems in no way let the guilty off the hook; they too were responsible for their sins even if they were unaware of what Scripture said about it – ignorance is never an excuse for breaking the Law. But the guilt was greater for those who by their false teaching caused people to stumble.
The short message breaks down into three parts: the condemnation (vv. 1-4), the covenant standard (vv. 5-7), and the charge (vv. 8-9). It is constructed for the greatest rhetorical effect. First, he condemns the priests for their failure in ministry – this would have grabbed their attention, but also sparked their interest to see what he was so upset about. Second, he lays out the standard for the ministry so they would know what they failed to do. And finally, he states explicitly what they have done wrong in the light of that standard.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 30
Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.