Scripture: Malachi 2:5-9
Through Malachi, God addressed offensive and insincere worship practices by individual worshippers, leaders of the people and priests. The violators seemed either to deny God’s accusations defiantly or to be totally unaware of their wandering from righteousness.
God desired to correct the problems, not just judge people for doing wrong. He called His people back to faithfulness through Malachi, especially the priests. He wanted to bestow His blessings.
God described the work of a faithful priest, beyond the activities of offering sacrifices at the altar of the temple. In their extended role, He called them “the messenger[s] of the Lord of Hosts.”
Today, God no longer requires use of the sacrificial system of worship, nor does He require people to access priests to interact with Him. But some priestly activities continue through the roles of pastors and elders of God’s church, specifically the role of messenger.
Pastors and elders, like priests should ...
- demonstrate authentic awe and reverence toward God,
- speak pure, true instruction from God - God’s Word,
- walk faithfully in personal devotion and relationship with God,
- effectively turn people from sin,
- guard knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. Such guarding does not hide truth from people, but protects it from corruption, keeping it pure and accessible for people,
- make themselves available to people seeking out their instruction and guidance because of their faithful, practical and helpful delivery of God’s Word.
- function as a messenger from God, carrying His authority and honoring His Words by delivering them faithfully and transparently - only facilitating, not governing, manipulating or restricting anyone’s interaction with God,
- instruct and guide all of God’s people without partiality to roles and positions, social or economic status or other such factors.
Failure to function in these ways - “turning aside from the way” - will cause people to stumble and corrupt a leader’s relationship with God. Such failure is sin, which God promises to punish. Instead, God desires to shower faithful followers with peace and life.
How do I respond to God’s identity, role and nature? Do I reverence Him as the sole deity of heaven and earth? What does it mean to feel awe and show reverence?
What value to I place on God’s Word? How do I express that outwardly, and how do I show it in my behavior (obedience)? Does my life reflect the value I claim?
As a pastor or elder in God’s Church, how would God describe my faithfulness to Him and His Word? Specifically, how am I succeeding at or failing to follow Him and to communicate His message clearly?
What does it mean to turn someone from sin?
Using God’s standards, how are my life activities honoring or displeasing God? Take some time to reflect on which part of Malachi’s audience best reflects you: those being judged or those being held up as examples to follow.
What fruit, that reflects God’s work through me as a messenger, is my ministry producing?
How does God’s response to the ministry of the priests prompt non-priests non messengers to live? How could God’s message through Malachi influence other followers of God?
God’s messengers should accurately follow and deliver God’s ministry and message.
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