Malachi 2:7 (HCSB)
7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.
The heading in the HCSB is, “Warning to the Priests” for this pericope, and that’s exactly what this is. There are two sub-themes here: a) the description of the curse placed upon the priests, and b) a contrasting of the current spiritual state of the priesthood with the past.
Although the passage begins with the description of the curse, I want to start with the look back upon the priesthood and how it contrasted with the current one. God refers back to Levi, and how that past generation of priests walked with God, speaking truth, and kept the covenant with God. I think we can learn from this, and not just in the obvious way of keeping God’s covenant. We live in a time where Christianity is constantly being bombarded and attacked. And, as a result, we are seeing the church being compromised in many areas. Tenets that were rock solid 10 or 20 years ago are now shaky at best, and flat out reversed in many cases. Scripture that is clear and should be unquestionable, is now questioned, revised, or flat out ignored in favor of “modern sensibilities”. But when we read something like Malachi 2:4-7 we should take pause. This seemingly constant “progression”, it would seem, may not always be the right thing, what is in line with God’s covenant. Just as the priests in Malachi’s time had “progressed” and now operated under their own rules much of the time, we ought to be careful that we are observing God’s will rather than our own.
As for the curse… surely we do not want to suffer the same fate of having animal waste spread on our faces! I don’t know if that is literal or if it is some sort of phrase suggesting the priests will be buried under waste, or simply just a euphemism to convey the fact that they will be unclean, thereby out of God’s presence. I suspect ultimately it is that last notion, the uncleanliness, that is what is the important point here. We can defile ourselves so much that we separate ourselves from God! It is not a good place to be when God makes us “despised and humiliated”.
Finally, I want to look specifically at Malachi 2:7. This is a great verse for anyone in pastoral leadership, teaching, ministry, etc. Anyone who is impacting others spiritually really, but especially those with influence. I love the word picture of “guarding knowledge”. We don’t generally think about us, as a society, losing knowledge, after all, we are always progressing, pushing into new undiscovered territory, right? Yet God paints a different picture here, and I think it holds true. We are losing knowledge in many instances. Our churches, overall, are becoming more empty. We, as a society, are becoming more and more distanced from God. We are losing our knowledge of the Bible, we are tremendously Biblically illiterate. It is our leaders, or spiritual influencers, that have been entrusted with this knowledge, knowledge handed down from the previous guardians, through the ages. Knowledge that does not change with each generation, but is implemented accordingly in each generation. And when that does not happen? We “cause many to stumble.” We must recapture the truth of God’s word, and convey it to the world around us. That needs to start with me, and with you, each of us being God’s priest, expanding His kingdom, rather than watching people remain lost, or even worse, hastening their eternal demise.
Lord, thank You for Your permanent, unchanging, truth. I pray that I would stand firm on Your foundation, and not twist it and pervert it into something self-serving. Help me to speak Your light and truth, Your saving message of grace and love, into the darkness in the world, for Your glory and the salvation of Your children. Amen.