“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
James Montgomery Boice writes:
The first mark of a true minister is a proper relationship to God, which Malachi calls reverence. Most people are aware that the word “fear,” often used in translations of the Old Testament texts, actually means “reverence,” so that when the psalmist writes, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10), he is actually saying that true knowledge begins with a reverential awe of God. All things spiritual begin with such reverence, and God’s ministers need to cultivate it more than anything else.
The second characteristic of the man God holds out as an example to the false priests of Israel is personal commitment to the truth of God’s Word (“True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips,” v. 6). To speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a large assignment were it not for the written Word of God, which it is the preacher’s duty to proclaim. Left to ourselves we could speak little but error. But when we proclaim God’s Word we proclaim what is eternally truthful – not only true for a particular moment of history or a particular person, but true for all time and for all people. To proclaim that Word is a great responsibility.
Third, the true minister of God is to be marked by godlike character and piety (“He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin,” v. 6). The essential requirement here is godliness. It is what I most appreciate in the prayers of others when they pray for me personally. I do not care much if they request that I become a great preacher or become successful as the world defines that term. I want them to pray that I might be faithful to the teachings of Scripture and that I might be godly. God honors it more than anything else.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 35
Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.