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Wednesday, December 07th, 2016 - PM - The Cure of God's Pure Word (Mal. 2:1-7)

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Studies in Malachi  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:42
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Keep God’s Word with Purity; Seek God’s Word Personally; Speak God’s Word Powerfully.

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Introduction:

Describe the difficult day in which we try to minister:
2 Timothy 3:1ff KJV 1900
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Main Thought: Let's strive to send out God's Word they way we received it, pure: Keep it with purity; study it personally; speak it with power!
Sub-intro:
Chap. 2. The Lord, by the prophet, in this chapter, addresses a word of rebuke to the priests now, as He had done to the people before. The Spirit awakens a word in the bosom of the prophet, challenging the abominations that were committed in Judah and Jerusalem, the treachery against the nation’s covenant—letting the people know that they were not straitened in the Lord who had provisions for them in the Spirit to fulfil His part in that covenant, but that they had been their own enemies, unfaithful to their conditions in the same covenant. The covenant is spoken of under the figure of a marriage-contract, or marriage vows, according to the style of the prophets generally. And it is such a figure as the Lord’s own words about Himself and His people Israel would warrant and suggest. [J. G. Bellett, The Minor Prophets (Galaxie Software, 2004), 85–86.]
Body:

The LORD's Commandment to the Priests through His Messenger (Mal. 2:1-10).

I. The Promise of the Levitical Covenant Reiterated (Mal. 2:1-7).

A. The Intended Audience: the Levitical Priests (Mal. 2:1).

Malachi 2:1 KJV 1900
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

B. The Indictment Against them (Mal. 2:2-7).

1. The Curse of Dishonoring God's Name (Mal. 2:2-6).

a. The Caution to Heed (v. 2).

Malachi 2:2 KJV 1900
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.
Note the importance of protecting your heart for the things of God:
The first matrix of human health represented in the Shema is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your lēbāb.” The term lēbāb, translated “heart,” is more accurately “heart-mind.” In English, the heart is considered the seat of the emotions, whereas in Hebrew the lēbāb is the seat of decision-making, thought, and the will. It is the locus of mental-emotional health, the integration of a person’s passion and intelligence.
When a person’s intellect and passions are at odds, the heart-mind is divided. The integration of one’s intelligence and passions may be used for good or evil, but its integration is the first element of a healthy heart-mind. Resisting God is described as being “hard-hearted” (stubborn) or “fat-hearted” (rebellious) (Exod. 7:13; Ps. 95:8; Mal. 2:2). The Shema and its broader Sinaitic context offer three foci for a healthy lēbāb: learning the instruction given at Sinai, choosing to act on the instruction, and integrity. [James K. Bruckner, “Health,” ed. Joel B. Green, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 352.]

b. The Consequence of Ignoring It (v. 3).

Malachi 2:3 KJV 1900
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.
Note Wiersbe's summary:
In short, God was saying, “You’re treating Me with disrespect, so I’ll treat you like garbage! You don’t value the priestly ministry, so why should you be in office?” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 147.]
Note the BKC's observation of the Hebrew play of words between "spread" and "seed":
“Spread,” from the verb zārâh, is a pun on the word zera’ (“seed”), the descendants who were the object of God’s rebuke (v. 3). [Craig A. Blaising, “Malachi,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1579.]
Note the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery on "Dung":
Dung is first associated with the sacrificial rites of Israel. Since dung was an unclean substance, God mandated that it needed to be burned outside the encampment and later, outside the gates of Jerusalem (Ex 29:14; Lev 16:27; Neh 3:13, 14). Dung was also used as fertilizer (Lk 13:8). However the metaphorical power of dung’s coarse connotations is found in the various contexts of judgment pronouncements in the OT prophetic and historical books.
For example, in 1 Kings 14:10 dung is a metaphor applied to the ruling family of Jeroboam, where God says he “will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung till it be all gone” (KJV). The corpse of Jezebel is to be scattered like excrement in a field, “so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:37 KJV). In Ezra 6:11 King Darius warns that anyone who interferes with the restoration of Israel’s temple is to have his home turned into an outhouse—destroyed—“made a dunghill” (KJV).
Besides the judgment of dung being pronounced on Israel’s enemies (Ps 83:10; Is 25:10), the majority of dung judgments are assessed against Israel, the very people of God. Graphic examples of these judgments are found in the Prophets (e.g., Jer 9:22; 16:4), but the most extreme metaphor for God’s displeasure with his people relates prophetic judgment to spreading excrement across the faces of apostate Israel (Mal 2:3): “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, [even] the dung of your solemn feasts” (KJV). Such strong language expresses God’s right as Creator of all things-even dung-to use any creature or created substance as a means of expressing his divine will. [Leland Ryken, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 221–222.]
Note on avoiding hypocrisy in our walk with God:
Here is a demonstration of sincerity, from the right performance of the duty set forth by the antithesis in the fifth verse. “But thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” Enter not thy house only, or thy common chamber, but thy closet, the most secret and retired privacy, that others may neither discern thee nor rush in suddenly upon thee. God will answer thee and perform thy request, as a gracious return to thy secret sincerity. God is pleased by promise to make himself a debtor to secret prayer. It brings nothing to God but empty hands and naked hearts; to show that reward in Scripture sense, does not flow in on the streams of merit, but of grace. It is monkish divinity to assert otherwise; for what merit strictly taken can there be in prayer? The mere asking of mercy cannot merit it at the hands of God. Malachi 2:3. Our most sincere petitions are impregnated with sinful mixtures. We halt, like Jacob, both in and after our choicest and strongest wrestlings. But such is the grace of our heavenly Father, who spies that little sincerity of our hearts in secret, that he is pleased to accept us in his beloved, and to smell a sweet savor in the fragrant perfumes and odors of his intercession. [Samuel A. M. Lee, “Secret Prayer Successfully Managed,” in The Bible and the Closet: Or How We May Read the Scriptures with the Most Spiritual Profit; and Secret Prayer Successfully Managed, ed. John Overton Choules (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1842), 54–55.]

c. The Correction in the Warning (Mal. 2:4-6).

i. The Levitical Covenant's Inception (v. 4).
Malachi 2:4 KJV 1900
And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, That my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Note Dr. Phillips' remarks concerning the bravery and dedication of the Levites:
In 2:4 God referred the priests to His original covenant with the tribe of Levi, the tribe chosen by Him to be set apart for His service. We read about that covenant in the Pentateuch: When apostate Israel sinned so grievously in making the golden calf, Moses threw down the gauntlet. “Who is on the Lord’s side?” he demanded (Exodus 32:26). The only ones to respond were “all the sons of Levi.” Rewarding them for this decision, God consecrated the whole tribe of Levi to the ministry (Deuteronomy 10:8–9). [John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:1–4.]
Numbers 6:22–27 KJV 1900
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
ii. The Levitical Covenant's Integrity (v. 5).
Malachi 2:5 KJV 1900
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.
Numbers 18:7–8 KJV 1900
Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.
Numbers 18:19–21 KJV 1900
All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee. And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
iii. The Levitical Covenant's Intent (v. 6).
Malachi 2:6 KJV 1900
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.
Note Dr. Phillip's memorable way of describing the influence of the Levites:
Levi was inspired by the fear of the living God and as a result God gave him a threefold ministry: he was an example to all by his words, his walk, and his witness. He was an example by his words in that “the law of truth was in his mouth” (2:6). He upheld the inerrancy, inspiration, and infallibility of the Word of God. Levi was an example by his walk in that “he walked with [God] in peace and equity.” His conduct was such that he enjoyed the constant smile of God’s approval and the conscious sweetness of His presence. Levi was an example by his witness in that he “did turn many away from iniquity.” He did away with apostasy, put the fear of God into the rank and file, defended the faith, and encouraged those who wanted to live for God. [John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:5–7.]
Numbers 25:11 KJV 1900
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Note that this (Mal. 2:6) is the verse used in the Title Page of Spurgeon's Autobiography.
Note John Bunyan's treating of Christ's Character:
He is full of truth. Full of grace and truth. Truth, that is, faithfulness in keeping promise, even this of the text, with all other, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 14:6). Hence it is said, that his words be true, and that he is the faithful God, that keepeth covenant. And hence it is also that his promises are called truth: “Thou wilt fulfil thy truth unto Jacob, and thy mercy unto Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” Therefore it is said again, that both himself and words are truth: “I am the truth, the Scripture of truth” (Dan 10:21). “Thy word is truth,” (John 17:17; 2 Sam 7:28); “thy law is truth,” (Psa 119:142); and “my mouth,” saith he, “shall speak truth,” (Prov 8:7); see also Ecclesiastes 12:10; Isaiah 25:1; Malachi 2:6; Acts 26:25, 2 Timothy 2:12, 13. Now, I say, his word is truth, and he is full of truth to fulfil his truth, even to a thousand generations. Coming sinner, he will not deceive thee; come boldly to Jesus Christ. [John Bunyan, Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 297.]
Note Dr. Schreiner's treating the dangers of the liberal and broad understanding of "Torah" as promoted by "sholars" such as Dr. Mark Futato in his course on the Psalms:
The word for law in the Old Testament is torah; ...It is often said that torah in the Old Testament does not refer so much to commands (to the keeping of commandments) as it does to instruction (to teaching). According to this view, the word torah does not focus on admonitions, commands, and requirements. Instead, the word has a more general referent, so that it includes God’s instruction more generally. Hence, if one follows this view, the word torah also includes God’s promises to save his people, his threats if they do not obey, and also narrative accounts that we find, for example, in the Pentateuch. But such a wide definition for the word torah is almost certainly wrong.
Torah usually refers to what human beings are commanded to do.1 In some instances, a broader sense (that goes beyond commands and prescriptions) aptly captures the meaning of torah (e.g., Job 22:22; Ps. 94:12; Prov. 1:8; 4:2; 13:14; Isa. 2:3; 42:4; 51:4; Mal. 2:6–8), although even in some of these passages the instruction probably consisted of what was required by the law. In the vast majority of instances, however, the word torah focuses on doing what is commanded in the law, that is, the commands and requirements that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The emphasis on observing the law and carrying out what it demands is evident from the verbs of which torah is the direct object (see figure 1a).
Other terms that are used with the word torah and are roughly synonymous with it confirm that the term torah focuses on regulations and prescriptions (see figure 1b). All these words convey the idea that Israel must obey what God has required in his law. [1 Cf. Stephen Westerholm, “Torah, nomos, and Law: A Question of ‘Meaning,’ ” SR 15 (1986): 327–36; Douglas J. Moo, “ ‘Law,’ ‘Works of the Law,’ and Legalism in Paul,” WTJ (1983): 73–100. (Thomas R. Schreiner, 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law, ed. Benjamin L. Merkle, 40 Questions Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2010), 19–20.)]
Note the importance of walking with God when it comes to proclaiming His truth to others without pollution:
The precise phrase “walked with God” is used only of Enoch, Noah (Gen. 6:9), and Levi (Mal. 2:6), though some take the latter to represent the priestly tribe of Levi in the spiritual sense of walking.29 It is, of course, entirely possible that each of these men literally walked with God, especially since the Christophany seems to have been God’s primary means of making His will known in the early patriarchal days. [29 Henry Cowles, The Minor Prophets: with Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical (New York: Appleton, 1868), pp. 389–90. But for the literal sense see Edward Bouverie Pusey, The Minor Prophets: A Commentary, 2 vols. (reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950), 2:478–79. (James A. Borland, Christ in the Old Testament (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), 77–78.)]

2. The Cure - Deliver God's Word Uncompromisingly (Mal. 2:7).

Malachi 2:7 KJV 1900
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.

a. Keep God's Knowledge Purely (v. 7a).

b. Seek God's Law Personally (v. 7b).

c. Speak God's Truth Powerfully (v. 7c).

Note J. Vernon McGee's application of the word "messenger" to pastors today:
The priests are to be messengers of the Lord of hosts. The word messenger, as I have pointed out before, is also translated “angel,” and in the Book of Revelation we find the Lord addressing the “angel” of the church of Ephesus, etc. To whom is He speaking? He is addressing the one who is the leader of the church, the one who is teaching the Word of God in the church.
Now let me sum this up by giving my interpretation of this—and you may not agree with it. I believe that the sole duty of the pastor of a church is to teach the Word of God. God have mercy on the church that expects its pastor to be the public relations man, running all over the countryside visiting sick babies and burping them, and expects him to spend his time in the administration of church affairs when he should be studying the Word of God and then teaching it to his people.
Once I had a telephone call from a man back East who was an officer in his church and was dissatisfied with his pastor. He said that his pastor spent his time studying instead of administering the affairs of the church. So I asked him, “Did you tell me that you are a deacon?”
“Yes.”
“Have you yourself been visiting the sick?”
“No, sir, I keep pretty busy.”
“Do you know that that is your business? You are to visit the sick. You are to take charge of the administration of the church. His business is to teach the Word of God. If he is not teaching the Word of God when he gets into the pulpit, that is another story. But if he is spending his time in studying and giving out God’s Word, then he is doing what God has called him to do.”
Remember that a situation like this confronted the apostles in the early church. The Hellenistic Jews were complaining that their widows were being neglected and preference was being given to the native-born widows. The matter was brought before the apostles, and they did a marvelous job of handling it. They told the church to appoint deacons to handle it. They said, “… It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2).
Having completed my ministry in the church, I stand at a great vantage point today. I thank God that I have reached the place where I no longer have to burp babies and, although I have a little to do with administration, that is not how I spend my time. I am currently spending more time in the study of the Word than ever before, and I thank God for it. If I could relive my days as a pastor, I would spend more time studying the Word—some folk thought I spent too much time as it was. But I believe that studying the Word and teaching it is the pastor’s business.
God says that it was Levi’s business, but in Malachi’s day the priests were not doing it. [J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 3 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 1002–1003.]
Deuteronomy 33:10 KJV 1900
They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, And Israel thy law: They shall put incense before thee, And whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
Ephesians 6:6 KJV 1900
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Note Wiersbe's memorable summary:
Verses 6–7 describe the perfect servants of God: truth on their lips, obedience in their walk, fellowship with God, a burden to bring others to the Lord, and a passion to share God’s Word with those who need to hear it. But the priests weren’t following this pattern; they were following their own ways. [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 147.]
Application:
Fellowship of God’s People in Evil Times
“Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels: and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”—Mal. 3:16, 17.
We often hear people complain of the times, and of the low state of religion; but good men will be good men in the worst of times, and that which others make an excuse will to them furnish a motive to speak often one to another. In the Jewish worship, all who were of Abraham’s seed mingled together; yet even then the godly found one another out: “I am a companion of all those that fear God.”
I. Notice the character of these times. The prophet Malachi lived some time after Nehemiah, when the Jews were become very degenerate. 1. Great degeneracy among the priests—sordid despisers of religion. God speaks of what a true priest should be, but charges them with the reverse, chap. 2:5–8. The consequence was, as might be expected, they were despised by the people. 2. Great degeneracy among the common people—profane towards God, and treacherous towards one another—frequent divorces for trivial causes, yet full of excuses. 3. Even the professed worshippers of God had a great deal of hypocrisy. 4. All these things put together proved a stumbling-block to people in general. Wicked men were reckoned happy and promoted, and providence seemed to favour them; hence infidelity and atheism abounded: yet even “then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another.”
II. Observe the character and conduct of the godly in these times. 1. They are characterized as fearing the Lord. The phrase may be more expressive of the Old Testament than the New; but it is characteristic of good men under any dispensation. It denotes that filial reverence of God’s name, and fear of offending or dishonouring him, which a truly good man possesses. 2. They are described as keeping up a close communion with one another. The world was alive, and they were alive. The seed of the serpent leagued, and the seed of the woman communed together. You may be sure their conversation was edifying, or it would not have been recorded. They might have occasion to reprove, to admonish, to counsel, to exhort, to encourage, to instruct. Such a state of things is necessary, especially in evil times. The more wicked the world, the more need of Christian fellowship. 3. Their doing this is called thinking upon God’s name. Thinking here is not opposed to speaking, (for they that speak are the same persons as those who think,) but to forgetting. While others cared not for God’s name, their thoughts were occupied about it. God’s interest lay near their hearts; they grieved for its dishonour, and concerted plans for its promotion. If we love his name, it will occupy our thoughts.
III. The favourable notice taken of this conduct. It seems they were retired from the notice of the multitude; perhaps like the disciples, for fear of the Jews. They might be apprehensive lest any should hearken and hear them. One, however, did so, and took down their conversation too, not literally, for God needs no book but his own mind. This will be brought out at judgment, Matt. 25. They that think of him here will be remembered by him there, and when they have forgotten it. “They shall be mine in that day.” That day shall be a day of general destruction, like that of a tempest to shipping, and then nothing is spared but the most valuable things or persons, as jewels. Cities, nations, sea, land, heaven, earth, all will be one general wreck; or, lest this should not be sufficiently strong, he will spare them as a man spareth his son—as his own son, whose life is bound up with his own.
Which of these characters is ours?
Will our conversation bear writing in a book?
[Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 442–443.]