Malachi chapter 2:1 – 9 is a continuation of the indictment on the priests of Malachi’s time by God for failing to honour His name warning them of impending judgement lest a change of heart takes place. (Read Malachi 2:1 – 9 for context)
It is clear that God’s issue and concern here was with the honour of His name among those who served Him, those at the forefront of ministry in His household. As such the priests are singled out by God for the fiercest and sharpest criticism of all.
God called them out for the sheer disregard for the honour of His name they demonstrated in that they did not fear or stand in awe of Him as did Levi (their ancestor) with whom God had made the original covenant. God was respected and feared by their forefather; but not by them – the priests of Malachi’s time had lost that respect and fear for God. God’s honour was at stake here and it was those very ones God had chosen and made a covenant with to honour and fear His name that lost all interest in doing so. The honour of God’s name was to have been their prime concern but they not only neglected it but were wholly unconcerned about it. Hence God’s call to them to take it to their heart to honour His name, for them to be concerned and worried about it. It was this honour and respect for God and His name (who He is), which God expected from them as covenantal, that was lacking among the priests (2:1 – 2).
If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honour 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.
In the verses that follow there were many actions (or lack of them) the priests were chided for by God. They were found guilty of a raft of charges He brought against them:
- they failed to preserve the integrity of the law (did not keep instruction),
- they failed to represent God before the people (to be His messengers),
- they turned aside from God’s way,
- they showed partiality and caused many to stumble by their instruction (a very serious offence indeed),
- subsequently, they violated (corrupted) the covenant of Levi (their ancestor) and, in all this,
- they failed to honour God’s name.
But all these charges they stood guilty of were symptomatic of an underlying condition – a lack of interest or concern for the honour of God’s name. At the heart of it, it was really a heart matter. Their hearts were not aligned with God’s in the first place. As His servants, they failed to share His passion for the honour of His name. It was this misalignment of heart that resulted in them being found guilty as charged by the righteous Judge.
And herein less the lesson for us as servants (and leaders) in God’s household: it is the misalignment of our hearts with God’s that is always going to be the root cause of our demise just like it was for these priests in Malachi’s time. It is this alignment of our hearts with God’s (and His desires and concerns) that we should be looking out for in our own lives. It is this alignment of our hearts with God’s that we need to work on and maintain if we are to serve Him to His satisfaction.
As noted in the previous blog, the priests of Malachi’s time were at the altar supposedly “serving” God. They were not absent. Only their heart was. They were merely going through the motions. But not only did God not take pleasure in their service but openly declared His desire that He would rather they did not.
It was not a physical presence that God desired from His servants but a heart devoted and aligned to His. A heart concerned with the honour of His name. They failed to take to heart, to consider it important to honour it. They demonstrated a blatant disregard for the honour of God’s name (who He is) in their attitude and actions. This was the heart that was lacking in the priest’s of Malachi’s time.
It is this same heart which God is still seeking today from those who would serve Him at the forefront in His household.