Malachi - A Book of Warning Against Those Who Would Lead God's People
Chapter Two - Part One - Violating the Covenant of Levi
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, - Malachi 2: 4-8 (ESV)
As we discussed in reviewing Chapter One, Malachi was a prophet living somewhere during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. This is during the time that the remnant returned to Jerusalem after the captivity in Babylon. Chapter One revealed that this Book is targeted at the Levitical Priests of the time, who were engaging in all sorts of corruption and evil practices. We see the correlation between these priests, who were responsible for the spiritual well being of God's people, and the would be preachers of today who are responsible for the same. We will see today that Chapter Two only delves deeper into what was wrong and remains wrong today.
Chapter Two opens with God directly addressing the priests. There is no other interpretation. We will see as the book continues that the address never changes direction. There is no point in which God has ceased addressing the priests. This will become crucial when reviewing the next chapter, one of the most misused portions of Scripture in all of the Bible. Chapter Two however contains two distinct portions that very much apply to Christian leaders today. The latter portion deals with the subject of marriage and divorce and will be addressed in tomorrow's writing. Today we will deal with the key verses above, which deal with the violation of the covenant of Levi. One of the lesser known covenants, this was actually made with the descendants of Levi, Aaron and his brethren - four generations removed from Levi himself. Exempt from war, the Levites were responsible for the spiritual well being of the people of God. They taught and read the law to the people and assisted with resolving domestic issues amongst them. Let us turn to the key verses and apply them to the leaders we see today in the church.
The covenant of Levi is supposed to be one of life and peace with fear and awe of God and His name. Do we see this active today in the works of those who stand in the pulpits? No we do not. There is a rapid erosion of the fear of God throughout this land and it starts in leadership. How else do you explain the brashness you see on would be Christian television? Misusing Scriptures to try and fleece money from people. How else can you explain something like the upcoming reality television show, "The Preachers of L.A.?"
I have seen the most abhorrent abuse of Scripture from the wolves standing in pulpits today. There is no fear of God and no regard for His name. These six millionaire pastors are only a microcosm of the problem. They are the "low hanging fruit" in that they should be obvious to those who can discern. The sad reality is that the fear of God is no longer taught to up and coming pastors. The purpose driven-seeker friendly models of church growth do not focus on such things. It is a carnal method of growing man centered churches. Look at the proper role for preacher pastors listed here in the key verses. They are to have true instruction in their mouths, walk uprightly, and turn people from their sins. Instead today we see the truth routinely compromised, pastors constantly falling from grace, and a gospel focused not on sin and repentance but rather on a distorted view of grace and earthly prosperity. The truth is that we rarely turn people from their sins anymore. It simply doesn't sell well. Even the poorly theological sinner's prayer has become a microwaved version of it former self, devoid of the need of repentance and filled instead with non-biblical vagueness about inviting Jesus into your heart. According to the key verses, Pastors and preachers are supposed to guard knowledge!
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)
You will save yourself and your hearers! This is Paul instructing Timothy! The key verses explain that people should come seeking instruction from the mouths of pastors and preachers. They should have trust in what they are being told. Sadly, many do not check the veracity of what they hear. Tens of thousands attend mega churches espousing false doctrine across this land. Tens of thousands of goats who are being told they are sheep. Tens of thousands who believed the man in the pulpit blindly and instead of being turned from their iniquity they now are deeper in it than ever. Still in darkness but being told they are light. The Bible teaches that type of darkness is the worst.
These leaders have turned aside from God and through their false instruction have caused many to stumble. It was true in the days of Malachi and it is true today. The true word of God sets captives free and restores sight to the blind. The false gospel however shackles people in their iniquity, causes them to stumble all the more and blinds them from the real truth. When Jesus looked out on the multitudes He had compassion for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. The only thing worse though is having a shepherd who isn't in the shepherding business for the sheep but rather for themselves. A shepherd who has no reverent fear of God or His name. A shepherd who uses the Word of God for his own advantage instead of for the good of his hearers. A shepherd who corrupts the covenant of Levi instead of living a life of peace, with true instruction found on his lips, walking in uprightness and trying to turn people from their iniquity. Beware of those who would violate the covenant of Levi.