Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Malachi's Priestly Smackdown

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.  It's the last word we hear for a few hundred years before the story of Jesus begins in the New Testament.  Some of you may be familiar with part of the book because there is a section in chapter 3 about tithes and offerings which is discussed by those who preach the "prosperity" message.  But chapters 1 and 2 deal with Priestly conduct and let's just say Malachi doesn't mince words!  If there was ever an example of God giving a "Priestly smack down" this would be it!

Here are some examples from chapter 1 in The Message paraphrase:
"You Priests have gotten everyone in trouble.  With this kind of conduct, do you think I'll pay attention to you?...Why doesn't one of you just shut the Temple doors and lock them?  Then none of you can get in and play at religion with this silly, empty-headed worship....You profane me when you say 'Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,' and when you say, 'I'm bored-this doesn't do anything for me."
Or how about this from chapter 2:
"It's the job of priests to teach the truth.  People are supposed to look to them for guidance....But you priests have abandoned the way of priests. Your teachings have messed up many lives....You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don't get what you want from God."
Ouch!  Tough words from God but God never sends a Prophet without words of hope as well.  Bottom line, he is asking the leaders to turn and repent and treat God with respect again.  He is asking them to be true servants again.  Live right.  Serve well. 

Are there parallels with this story from old with our faith story today?  Have we gotten out of whack with our worship?  And I'm not talking about just ministers here, I'm talking about anyone in a leadership position within the church!  Do we give our very best to service?  Or do we worry more about what is in it for ourselves? 

These are tough questions to confront.  We may not like the answers.  That doesn't mean that we shouldn't ask the questions.  Otherwise we may face a Godly rebuke like we see in the book of Malachi.  Let's listen and heed the wise words of Malachi!

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