I was at a Bible study last night and among other things, we were discussing the importance of sharing God’s Words with each other—literally, God’s Words—the Bible, the Word, the truth in it. As I woke up this morning I was reminded of Mal. 3:16-18
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
How extraordinary—when we talk about our Lord with each other, God pays attention to us. And not just a passing glance of attention so like we give to each other today with one eye on our cell phone and our attention spread over the busy, multi-tasking life we live—He listens; He remembers; He records it.
Context of the verse—the book of Malachi
The book of Malachi, the last of the books in the Old Testament is written to a very religious people—much temple worship was going on, lots of talk about God, lots of Temple sacrifices. But the sacrifices were blemished, the teaching was self-absorbed and false, the relational and work lives of followers a mockery of their faith. Malachi places both the blame and the solution on the priests in Malachi 2:
“And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your offspring ,and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. 4 So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the Lord of hosts.
5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.
7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, 9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”
Application to us and God’s priesthood of people
We can’t simply point fingers today at poor teaching in churches. Because of the death, resurrection, and our salvation in Jesus, the commands and responsibilities of the priesthood fall on all of us who call Jesus Lord, as Peter reminds us in 1Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
We have a message to share with the world around us of salvation in Jesus. To encourage and energize us to do this, we need to spend time with each other sharing His Words, discussing how they relate to our lives and encouraging and challenging each other with them. We may be fortunate and attend a church where the Word is preached and sacraments properly observed. These experiences are essential, but they aren’t enough if we are to live well-rounded Christian lives. Two other quotes from last night are helpful here:
Faith demands a community.
Don’t just talk about God—speak His Words.
Meeting with other believers and talking about God isn’t an option if we want to live obedient lives and grow in our faith. If you aren’t part of a small group, Sunday School class or group of friends where you can talk with others about God, make it a priority to get into a group where you can.