In Malachi the priests are reminded of the example of Levi who “revered Me and stood in awe of My name.” Levi honored God’s name by being upright and righteous in his ways. Malachi says, “6True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was no found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 2:6,7).
In contrast, the priests being addressed by the prophet had become spiritually obtuse and they malign all the ways of God. They did not magnify God. They did not show the greatness of God’s name, nor did they fear His name, (Mal. 1:5,11,14). Only in the future in the new dispensation when the Lord comes into His temple would a purified remnant keep His statutes and will return to Him (Mal. 3:1ff).
The preaching of Malachi pricked some people who “feared the LORD” which spurred God to write their names in His book of remembrance. It is a book that contains the name of those who “fear the LORD and who esteem His name.” (Mal 3:16).
Among the priests there was the palpable disrespect for God and His ways. They did not acknowledge His love for them. They did not honor Him at the table and they offered defiled sacrifices to Him. And a tangible manifestation of their irreverence was the position they had taken against marriage. They married the “daughter of a foreign god” which means they disobeyed God and married outside of the faith. And they doubled their treachery by abandoning the brides of their youth. “‘For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel” but the spiritual leaders treated this is nothing.
I’m afraid that many preachers and spiritual leaders have fallen into committing similar irreverence for God. How can we honor God if we do not hate divorce? We can say we hate it but do we if we do not preach it from the pulpits? The only way the church with its married couples will know the importance of working through their problems is if we show them how serious is the matter of divorce. There are preachers who will say they hate divorce and they turn around and approve of any marriage. Malachi, like Ezra and Nehemiah, did not approve of all marriages. These immoral unions had to be put away. But there are churches who have unfaithful preachers who do not preach as Malachi did. They may say they hate divorce as much as God, but they permit all marriages to continue. Jesus Himself made it clear in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 that all marriages are not acceptable to God. You may not remain in a marriage that is not accepted by God. The message from Malachi is that we don’t honor God’s name when we do not honor His ways.
What’s next? If we budge on marriage because of culture, will we not budge later on homosexuality? There are many who are willing to do so in the name of conforming to the culture. When divorce was less common, it was easy to preach the permanence of marriage. But the message is rarely heard today.
Do we truly honor the name of God? If so, then the ways of God we will keep and our names will be found in the book of remembrance. Like Levi, “true instruction” will be on our lips and we will turn many from their iniquity, (Mal. 2:6). Levi upheld the truth because he “revered the Me and stood in awe of My name.” (Mal. 2:5). Don’t just say you honor God’s holy name. Prove it by preaching all of the Word of God, when it’s easy and when it’s not.