God’s desire has always been that His people would be a royal priesthood before Him. His family is a family of kings and priests. It could be interpreted that His family is a family of priestly kings and kingly priests. They are to stand before God as a holy people and they are to rule in this earth as a testimony of the power of Christ. This is God’s heart for all people.
The Old Covenant was a shadow of the good thing to come. It was a testimony of imperfect men trying to obey a system that reflected the true covenant of Christ in heaven. The earthly expression was often less than what was to come, even as a shadow. Even the tabernacle with its partitions and furniture arrangements was seen in an Old Covenant reality, therefore a veil separated man from the presence of God. In the Old Covenant the tribe of Levi held the priesthood, because they were the tribe that stood with Moses at the destruction of the golden calf (Ex. 32:25, 26). The nation of Israel was then revealed as a nation of tribes, with one tribe being the tribe of the priesthood. That one tribe was a shadow of what God wanted to do with all people. He wants all of humanity to know that they are to be a royal priesthood before Him (1Pet. 2:9).
The priesthood of the Old Covenant transgressed in God’s ways and failed to live in faithfulness before God as the priests that God had chosen them to be. Malachi, chapter 2 describes a spirit of divorce that had broken covenant and caused God’s people to abandon the passion and the true responsibility of being a part of the inheritance of God’s house. This chapter is an example to us all as to what is to be the passion and focus of each of us as a royal priest before God.
Malachi 2:1 And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.
The commandment was to the priests – His testimony of heaven on earth. We are a priesthood of believers and we can see an example of who we should be before God through His desire and Israel’s failure to fulfill His desire in the covenant.
Malachi 2:2 If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart.
As priests before God our primary responsibility is to hear what God says and to give glory to His name. This is a matter of desire in our hearts, not merely the surface actions of our lives. As leaders among the priests we must set an example of those who hear God and give glory to Him. We do not lead for our own personal desires, nor do we lead for the desires of the people. We, and those we lead, are here for the glory of God to His name as our heavenly Father. We must set an example in following God’s desire and leading others into the same.
Malachi 2:3, 4 Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD of hosts.
God was revealing through the prophet Malachi that it was not the feasts that God desired. It was a relationship that fulfilled the purpose of the feasts. The priests had failed to see that the attitude and the actions of their own lives would affect the generations to come. As priests before God we must all understand that how we respond to God’s voice affects our descendants. This can be good or bad, depending upon our own obedience of disobedience to God. The future of the church is affected by our responses to God today.
Malachi 2:5, 6 My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; so he feared Me and was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity.
When we embrace a face-to-face relationship with God, there is life and peace. Our personal relationship with God will be seen in the testimonies of our lives. An awe of who God is and an honor for His name will cause the expressions of our lives to have a life-giving effect upon others. The truth of God in our mouths is the testimony of becoming like Him in our ways. The principles, patterns, and values of God in our hearts will empower us to walk in the justice of His ways. The iniquities of others are healed when we accept the responsibility of being people who are in a close and personal relationship with God. When we stand with God, we change in our character, nature, way, power, and authority. When we change, we inspire others to change also.
Malachi 2:7 For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
As leaders, we must embrace a relationship with God in order to inspire others to do the same. We live on the words of God’s mouth. We must speak the truth and see ourselves as messengers of the Lord. We must speak life-giving words of love for God and love for people, not critical ones. Loving God as our Father and loving His children should be the testimony of our mouths.
Malachi 2:8,9 “But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts. Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in the law.”
The Old Covenant priests of Malachi’s day had departed from God’s way. The had used the form of God’s covenant to benefit themselves. They had exalted themselves above others and they saw the community of God as a system they could use for their own purposes. As priests before God we must understand that we live for the will of God and for the blessing of others. We must keep God’s way before others that none will stumble in loving God and loving others. We cannot show partiality in loving God and loving people. There is no rank of value in the community of humanity before God. As leaders we cannot show partiality in love to those we lead. We cannot show partiality in how we love others, for we set an example of love to all.
Malachi 2:10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?
We live to reveal the Father to others. We are God’s family and we must all understand that no child of God is greater or less than another. As leaders we must embrace God’s family above our own personal ministry agendas. We are not here to become famous; we are here to reveal God the Father to others. When each one knows who their Father is, they will become a testimony of Him and His will in all things. We live to reveal the Father to others. Our aim in life must be to point all to the Father. It is not about what we want. It is about what the Father wants.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson