Be a Phinehas!

MALACHI -Ninth in a series

Malachi 2:1-3 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. (vs 1)
If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. (vs 2)
Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. (vs 3)

The threatenings of God are never for mere effect or to draw attention to himself, but they are to an end. God is working to accomplish something, and someone or a group is standing in his way.

Four warnings or threats are pronounced by Malachi as a way of provoking change and reform. First, the priests should realize that they are under God's curse and will continue to be until they honor his name.

Second, he will corrupt their seed, that is, their agricultural work would be hindered resulting in famine.*

Third, he will humiliate them by spreading the dung of the sacrificial animals on their faces they will be viewed as filth by the congregation— and fourth, the sense of verse 3 is that they will be consigned to an early death: "…and one shall take you away with it."

Should these warnings not be heeded, all will understand that it is the role of the priests to uphold God's name and to teach the people to walk in his ways:
Malachi 2:4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Early in the organization of Israel, the Levites were appointed by the Lord to take charge of the "hallowed things" (Num 18:8) and to teach God's Word and Law. They would have no inheritance in the land, but God himself would be their portion (Num 18:20), and they would be sustained by the offerings of the people.

Malachi 2:5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
An earnest Levite, Phinehas, Aaron's grandson, stood for righteousness at a critical moment (Num 25:6-8), and was then promised a covenant of peace and of an everlasting priesthood (Num 25:12-13); he was zealous for God and saved the children of Israel from judgment. That is exactly what God expected of the priests confronted by Malachi. God desired to and intended to maintain this covenant with the Levites. After 400 years it would be established afresh in Jesus Christ who would become the great high priest as God worked out his purposes in history. The next verse seems to arc to Christ from Phineas:
Malachi 2:6The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

Therefore, these priests had a job to do to set an example and to teach the Jews to live holy lives. The nation was down to a small number primarily from the tribe of Judah along with the Levites who lived in the Southern Kingdom. Christ must come to this remnant; it must not disappear.

Malachi 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
The priest of God must study God's Word, or he will not be able to teach.

Vows must be honored, covenants must be upheld by both sides, truth must be preached.

Malachi 2:8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

What might be the applications of these passages to the churches and pastorates today? An obvious conclusion. Yet we can be thankful there will always be the remnant.

*Neither priests nor Levites cultivated the soil; yet, since the tithes were assigned to them, the diminution of the harvest affected them. The meal-offering too was a requisite part of the sacrifice. - Albert Barnes

God's Name Is 777

MALACHI -Eighth in a series

Malachi 1:13-14 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD. (vs 13)
But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (vs 14)

There is an emphasis in the first chapter of Malachi on the name of the Lord. God makes clear that by their disobedience in offering blemished animals for sacrifice, the people and the priests are profaning his name.

Through Malachi God proclaims He is a great king, not feared nor honored among his own people, nevertheless, the heathen do consider his name to be dreadful. Over the centuries there were many occasions for the heathen to see that the God of the Jews was more powerful than any other god.

In the parlance of today's universal language, that of the computer, our God's name is 777. Translated to human language, God alone is sovereign.

When programmers or computer users are "behind the scenes" in the terminal or console of the computer, they can define how any file may be used, if they are the SUDO, the super user. So in this analogy, God is the SUDO in a closed system. A computer buff could present a better scenario than I am about to. I learned these things in free seminars in my city.

The SUDO grants permissions to operate files.

Each file has three possible actions: Read, Write and Execute. As an example, if you are reading this page, you have Read permissions; if you could login and write more on this post or delete it, you would have Write permissions, Execution is only for programs, which are special types of files. Those who have Execute permissions can run programs and define who may execute them.

Each file has three levels of entities who are granted permissions, or not. Each has a User, the person who invented the file; a primary Group, whose name matches the User name; and Other--everyone else.

Separate levels of permissions can be set for the entities. The User can Read, Write and Execute (rwx), or only Read and Write (rw-) etc. The Group, likewise, can do all three or only one, etc. Same for the Other.

With three possible actions on three entities, there are nine permissions on each file— rwx on each of the three entities, u, g and o:

u      g      o
r w x      r w x      r w x

If the User had all 3, the Group had 2 and the Other had 1, the diagram could be, for example: (The dash indicates no permission.)

u      g      o
r w x      r w -      r - -

These permissions are associated with numbers, as part of the operation of the computer system. The associated numbers are Octal, not Decimal. In the Octal system, only 8 numerals are used, 1-7. In Decimal, after 9 comes 1 again, but with a 0, for ten (10)--one 10 and zero 1s. In Octal, after the number 7, we have 1 again with a 0, but this equates to eight (8), so 10 (in Octal) means there is ONE 8 and ZERO 1's.

This relates to the eight possible combinations of permissions that can be ON or OFF:

7 r w x         3 - w x
6 r w -         2 - w -
5 r - x         1 - - x
4 r - -         0 - - -

This logic runs our computers and our world, or so it seems. Since r is 4, w is 2 and x is 1, by summing all together we get 7; or no permissions is 0, only reading is 4, or read and write is 6, etc.

It would be unwise to give full permissions for any file.

And now we consider this paradigm in relation to God's name as 777, the title of this post.

I'm sure I'm not the first to reflect upon these underlying operators, to consider that the meaning of 666 (Rev 13:18) may be that the Antichrist who serves the Man of Sin who will be revealed in the last days (2 Thess 2:3-4), will not be all-powerful. He will seem to be, but beware the delusion. God alone is all-powerful.

The Antichrist will perform great signs and wonders (Rev 13:13), but this is only Reading and Writing, in computer terms. To Execute belongs only to the Lord.

Do not worry about 666: Worry instead about 777. He is the One who has the power to cast both body and soul into hell. (Mat 10:28). 666 is only a way of saying that the Evil One does not hold all the cards, no matter how things may seem. Do not take his mark; he is only 666.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Prov 18:10

Be a good witness

MALACHI -Seventh in a series

Malachi 1:9-12 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts. (vs 9)
Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. (vs10)
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. (vs 11)
But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. (vs 12)

In the previous posts we noted that the priests under Malachi's scrutiny offered impure sacrifices and oblations. The animals were blind, sick and lame and the meal offerings were substandard.

Why would men offer blemished creatures to atone for their sins? Why the disrespectful bread? In today's verses we gain more insight, namely, the priests were disappointing leaders.

Malachi points out to the priests that God will not hear their prayers on behalf of the people because he would not "regard your persons." (vs 9) These were leaders who would not even shut the door of the house of God unless they were paid to do so. (vs 10) Much less would they kindle a fire on God's altar without payment. They only did their assigned duties for a paycheck, not because it was in their hearts to serve God. Then, when they performed their priestly functions, it was with unacceptable offerings.

The people must have known what their priests were as men, so they did not honor them by bringing good animals, which were to atone for their sins as well as to provide food for the priests. One perfunctory deed deserves another—a vicious cycle.

The larger context casts some light on this situation. While the Jews were in captivity there was no temple worship. During that time,

the Jews consolidated around their sacred writings, and the Torah took the place of the temple as a sacred center… One of the Talmuds, a compendium of Jewish legal thought, was written in Babylon in the fifth century. (ref)
Elders supervised the Jewish communities… This was possibly also the period when synagogues were first established, for the Jews observed the Sabbath and religious holidays, practiced circumcision, and substituted prayers for former ritual sacrifices in the Temple. (ref)

But having returned to their land and rebuilt the temple, they were to worship in the old ways which may have seemed less interesting, more expensive, and a lot more trouble.

In either case, whether the priests and people had not adjusted to the old ways or whether they were simply sinners in their treatment of each other and their Temple worship, the result was that God's name was profaned.

Only pure offerings could please him in his Temple for my name shall be great among the heathen (vs 11) You may wonder, how could the Gentiles have known whether or not the Jews were fulfilling God's worship requirements? At this time, they were in control of Jerusalem, so they could see the Jews as they went to worship.

Though Cyrus, King of Persia, had promoted their return to their homeland and the reconstruction of their Temple (2Ch 36:23; Ezra 1:1-8; Isa 44:28), he did not go so far as to cede the land back to them. Thus, God wanted his own to be good witnesses to their overlords, and perhaps this did not occur to the Jews. Malachi forces their attention to these unbelievers to whom they are called to be faithful witnesses.

The bloody sacrifice

Why would healthy domestic animals brought as offerings to God's House be a good witness to the heathen? (vs 11)

These pointed to the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) and would cause the Gentiles to stop and wonder.

Once inside the temple, the ‘meat’ oblations (see fifth post) testified of the bread of life (Jhn 6:35, 48), for living bread would come down from heaven to bring salvation to his own.

In the 21st century AD, our practices are different yet we like the Jews of the fifth century BC must be wholehearted in worship, knowing and proclaiming that the blood atones for our sins— for us, the blood of Jesus. The celebration of communion that cannot be shared with outsiders will cause them to wonder about our God.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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