Warning to the Priests

Open Your Bible

Malachi 2:1-16, Psalm 132:8-10, Hebrews 8:8-13

Oh, Israel.

With the book of Malachi, we’ve reached the end of the Old Testament. For 38 books prior, we’ve seen the Israelites flounder. Malachi’s sharp wit pierces the stale narrative in new ways, but it’s the same old song. The Israelites turn away from God, marry foreign women, defile the sacrifices, and get called out for it. In today’s reading, the table is turned to the Levitical priests.

There is no loyalty in the heart of Israel, no fidelity to the God who made and called His people into relationship with Him. Malachi reminds them of the covenant God made with the line of Aaron, the first high priest sons of Aaron (the first high priest), were promised in Jeremiah 33 (a reminder of God’s covenant with David) that the “Levitical priests will never fail to have a man always before me” (v.18).

That reminder came before the exile, and God restored the Levitical priests to their stations after the Israelites returned home. But, as we read yesterday, they treated their role flippantly. “You have caused many to stumble by your instruction,” the Lord said in Malachi 2:8. This contrasts with how the Lord describes the role of the priest in the verse before: “For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Armies.”

In the whole of Israel, the Levites were ordained as a special class: the priests. Their responsibility was great, but they failed over and over again. God needed a new covenant with His people, one dependent solely on Him. A covenant that would seal His people to Him forever, no matter their fickle hearts and minds.

Hebrews 8:7 reminds us, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one.” It wasn’t faultess, because it depended on us.

In Matthew, the next book of the Bible and also the first of the New Testament, God sends His Son to be our Great High Priest, our Savior (Matthew 3:16–17; Hebrews 9:11–15). The new covenant through Christ would secure God’s promise to His people: “I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Hebrews 8:10).

Reading Malachi, like reading so many other books of the Old Testament, is not meant to be a discouragement, but rather, one of deep encouragement. God’s chosen people failed and still do. His special priests failed. But God Himself will never fail, and for that we give thanks.

(18) Comments

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18 thoughts on "Warning to the Priests"

  1. Rachel Kelley says:

    He is so mighty, our God. This passage reminds us that he is the Lord of Armies. We should fear Him. But that gives new meaning to the phrase “he leads us beside still waters”. He is a powerful God who desires peace and love for his family.

    I’ve also never ready the passage in Malachi about husbands. What a strong warning to them to be faithful to their covenant! And, by extension, to wives too. I loved how the scripture notes that marriage is between man and woman with a portion of the Holy Spirit. A true chord of 3 strands.

  2. Carmela says:

    In the Old Covenant, the priests were the one who lobbied for the people of Israel, they were part of the sacrifices that were needed each yea to forgive and cleanse the sins of the people, yet they themselves could not keep themselves clean. Yet when Jesus was born into this earth, he was the only way we could be saved, he was the ultimate solution the constant filth that is sin in our life’s. The Great High Priest!

  3. Mari V says:

    For the past two years when my life took a drastic turn I’ve been saying this: HE (my GOD) is yet to let me down. He (my God) has not failed me. I too, am thankful! Life hasn’t been easy but I can’t see my life without my God who’s walking right besides me.

  4. Sue says:

    The new covenant was predicted while the old covenant was still in place.

    So grateful for the new covenant made possible by Jesus. Because of this, we can have a relationship with God and He can look at us and say:

    “True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity.”

    1. Cindi H says:

      Love this. God had the answer worked out from the beginning.

  5. Elaine Morgan says:

    Thank you Jesus!

  6. Aimee D says:

    God will never fail. Hallelujah! Amen!

  7. Churchmouse says:

    If I don’t listen. If I don’t take it to heart.
    Malachi is writing to me this morning. His warning is direct and his reminder of my obligation is clear. God calls for me to reflect reverence, truth, peace, and integrity. It is not easy. The old sin nature rises up in protest. I must subdue it. I must watch myself carefully and not act treacherously, for that is what I do when I choose to go my own way. I am His. I am not my own. And therein lies the struggle. He has clothed me with righteousness yet I am still working out my salvation. Daily I must crucify my flesh. It raises its ugly head far too often. Forgive me, Lord. You are my God and I am one of Your people. How can I forget? Help me once again to listen to You, to take to heart Your Word. Help me to walk in the Way. Let all that is in me that is not of You fall away. Let me walk in the fulness of Your Spirit.

    1. Rosemarie Clair says:


    2. Debbie Mace says:


    3. Ashley Snyder says:

      Thank you for your beautiful words. You truly have a gift. This is also my prayer this morning.

  8. Afua Tobigah says:

    God is merciful. Because of Jesus, I can confidently declare that I am His and He is my.

  9. Kathy says:

    I am in awe that God even made the first covenant with Israel knowing that they would completely reject Him, knowing all along that He was going to have to make a new covenant; that He would send Jesus. It made me think of 1 Peter 1:20, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” I have this note written beside that verse:
    “It’s difficult to grasp the reality of ‘before the foundation of the world’ but there was indeed a time before the Earth existed. And it’s even wilder to realize that before ‘In the beginning, God created…’ ever happened, ‘Surely I am coming soon’, had already been set in motion. ‘In the beginning, was the word.’ This word was Jesus – He was God and He was with God in the beginning. Jesus was never Plan B. He was always Plan A. He is the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together.”
    My only response can be nothing less than total and complete gratitude and humility. There is nothing in me that makes me worthy, but Jesus came and died for me anyway. Lord, help me to walk in this truth today.

    1. Ashley P. says:

      Wow. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Shawn Parks says:

    Because I am in the world, I fail. On my own.
    But I am a priest. Through the blood of Jesus.
    I am called. To a royal priesthood.
    My station elevated.
    My mission is clear.
    My authority is God Almighty.
    My power is through Christ in me. I can do all things.
    My Father has tethered me close to His side so that my instruction will be pure and my witness will be true.
    When I stray, He pulls me back to reaffirm His truth in me and reminds me that my sins have all been forgiven-past, present, and future. And, I continue the work he set before me.
    As a priest. And His beloved daughter.

    1. Sharon Smith says:

      Shawn~ thank you for this and the perspective – it makes the mission before me and before all of us that much more clear~ bring the Divine ~ word, deed, action

      1. Debbie Mace says:


    2. Rosemarie Clair says:

      Hope your school days are on mission and full of joy beyond the hard.