Friday, December 1, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Malachi 1-4

Our year-long reading in the Old Testament scriptures brings us today to the final book of the Old Testament, written by the prophet Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets.

Malachi directed his ministry and message to the remnant of Jews that had returned to Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity.  The time is around 400 BC, after the Temple was rebuilt and the walls of the city of Jerusalem were once again set in their place.

Malachi describes his ministry as, “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel” (Malachi 1:1); literally, the prophecy, the utterance.  In spite of God’s grace and love extended to Israel, the nation once again turned from the LORD (Malachi 1:1-5).

The problem was not that the people neglected to worship and offer sacrifices to the LORD, but that they were offering as sacrifice that which was less than their best.  God required perfect sacrifices (Deut. 15:19-23; Leviticus 22:17-33); however, the people brought for sacrifice “polluted bread” (meaning, food), “blind, lame and sick” animals (Malachi 1:7-8, 13).

Malachi admonished the people, it would be better to offer no sacrifice at all than to make a pretense of sacrifices and offer less than their best (1:10, 14).

In Malachi 2, the prophet turned his focus to the priesthood that was guilty of accepting and offering sacrifices they knew were a violation of God’s Law (Malachi 2:1-8).  No doubt the priests found favor among the people by accepting and not objecting to the imperfect sacrifices they brought; however, they did so at the sacrifice of the reverence their spiritual office deserved. We read,

Malachi 2:9 – Therefore have I also made you contemptible [despised; scorned; disdained] and base [low; abased; lit. diminished] before all the people, according as ye have not kept [observed; guarded] my ways, but have been partial [departed] in the law.

Here is a spiritual lesson 21st century pastors would be wise to heed.

Like the compromised priests in Israel whom the people came to despise (2:9), many young pastor’s and seminary graduates are adopting a “hip” style of ministry that is casual in dress, attitude and demeanor.

A preacher wearing sandals and jeans, adorning his body in tattoos and earrings, and dismissing the doctrine of sanctification might earn the applause of the world and carnal Christians; however, it comes at the sacrifice of pastoral authority.

Under a pretense of relevance, there are many young pastors sacrificing the spiritual authority of their office, failing to command respect and honor, they diminish their roles as God’s shepherds and spiritual leaders.

Preacher friend, your testimony in the church and before the world should evidence holiness and integrity; commanding the respect of God’s people and the world.

1 Timothy 3:1-7  – This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

You will never meet a “hip preacher” who is holy or a holy preacher who is “hip”!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith