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