Lesson 5: March 29, 2020

Malachi 2:1–9, 3:5–6

Just leaders act honorably toward constituents. How do just leaders act toward others? Malachi admonishes the priests to turn from their wickedness, revere God, and reap a rich harvest for promoting godly justice.

Leading Justly

Bible Background • MALACHI 2–3
Printed Text • MALACHI 2:1–9; 3:5–6 | Devotional Reading • PSALM 50:1–15

KJV 1 Malachi 2:1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

2 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.

3 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.

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.

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.

6 The 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.

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.

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.

9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.

3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.

6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

NLT 1 Malachi 2:1 “Listen, you priests—this command is for you!

2 Listen to me and make up your minds to honor my name,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken my warning to heart.

3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile.

4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that my covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name.

6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.

7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”

3:5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

The People, Places, and Times

Malachi.

The book of Malachi is the last of the Minor Prophets and the last prophetic voice to God’s people before John the Baptist. The book is believed to have been written between 450–430 BC, a century after Cyrus, the king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Judah after their Babylonian exile. The Temple had been rebuilt in 515 BC, and houses were reconstructed; however, their spiritual lives remained in ruins. It is debated as to whether Malachi, which means, “My messenger,” is the name of an actual person or simply a title attributed to a prophet tasked with relaying God’s message to His sinful people. The issues that Malachi addresses are similar to those found in Ezra and Nehemiah, which means he either preached during their time or in the generation following them.

Background

One hundred years after their return, the Jews had expectations of how life should be for God’s chosen people. They had rebuilt the Temple and reinstated Temple worship as instructed by Haggai and Zechariah years prior. And yet, they were still in economic turmoil, suffered from poor crops, and were a far cry from the major independent nation that they once were. There was little evidence of the blessings promised to Abraham and Moses. This suffering, though brought about from their forefathers’ repeated disobedience, caused them to question God’s love. As a result of their disappointment and disillusionment, their hearts were indifferent or hardened toward God. The priests and the people violated many requirements of the Mosaic Law—haphazardly making sacrifices, tithes and offerings, marrying pagans, divorcing freely, and living morally bankrupt lives in general.

Why do you believe people ask “Does God really love me?” in the face of trials? What can this indicate about a person’s view of God?