Monday, October 4, 2010
A Covenant of Life and Peace - A Study from Malachi
Verse 1 - Therefore, this decree is for you priests.
• In the Old Testament, people did not go to God directly. They went through a priest.
• The priests were supposed to be holy and set a right example for people to follow.
• Unfortunately, priests often failed to set the example they should.
• Malachi had a strong word of rebuke for those corrupt priests.
• In the New Testament we learn that all Christian believers are priests before God. See Hebrews 10:19, Ephesians 2:18, 1 Timothy 2:5, 1 Peter 2:4 and Romans 12:1.
• Christians no longer have to go through a human priest to get to God. Through faith in Christ we gain direct access to God the Father.
• This means that each Christian holds the responsibility of a priest to live right so that non-Christians can see Christ in our lives.
Verse 2 - If you don't listen, and if you don't take it to heart to honor My name," says the LORD of Hosts, "I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings.
• In the Old Testament, if the priests did not listen to what God was saying and take God’s Word to heart, they would be cursed.
• The blessings they were supposed to give to others would become curses instead.
• Since all Christian believers are now priests before God, that means that we must listen to what God says and take it to heart.
• If we fail to do so, the blessing we mean to be in society will become a curse instead.
• Are we a blessing or a curse to those around us?
Verse 2 - . . . In fact, I have already begun to curse them because you are not taking it to heart.
• Malachi goes on to say that the conversion of blessings into curses had already begun to happen. It was not yet full blown, but the process had started.
• We have also started to see that happening in our own society.
• As the church has lost it’s vision and purpose, people have begun to despise the church.
Verse 3 - I am going to rebuke your descendants, and I will spread animal waste over your faces, the waste from your festival sacrifices, and you will be taken away with it.
• God said that not only would the priests themselves be cursed, but their descendants would also pay a price.
• Descendants means more than our children, but goes on to future generations.
• Have we ever considered how our choices today will effect our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, etc?
• Children learn by our bad example and then repeat our mistakes, which are then repeated by the next generation.
• This cycle of pain will continue until someone determines to break the cycle and start living as God intended us to live.
• But there is also a spiritual element to all of this. Some people refer to it a generational curse.
• Though the concept of generational curses can be confusing, the basic premise is that if we let a negative spiritual force enter into our lives, that spiritual force will cling to us and continue to cause spiritual pain until we cast it off in the name of Christ (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).
• Because those negative spiritual forces, which may also be referred to as demons, enjoy being attached to humans, they love to invade whole families and keep them in spiritual bondage.
• They jump from generation to generation in joyful glee at keeping families enslaved.
• When a generational curse attaches itself to our family, we often feel so bad about ourselves and our families that it seems as if we have animal dung smeared all over us.
• We feel useless and like a pile of trash that needs to be hauled away.
• The devil loves it when Christians feel like trash!
• If we are feeling like trash then we will be emotionally and spiritually paralyzed and be ineffective in our Christian walk with God.
• The good news is that Christ did not come so we would continue to feel like trash. He came to set us free and give us abundant life!
• It is important to understand that though Christians cannot be demon possessed, they can be demon oppressed. Being oppressed is a terrible experience.
• A word of caution: We should not think that every time we have a bad day we are being oppressed by a demon. The devil is not THAT strong. Sometimes, we are just having a bad day. To know if those negative feelings are actually spiritual warfare we must first eliminate all the “normal” things.
• Once we have eliminated all the normal things, if the negative feelings and bondage continue, then we may conclude that it is a spiritual attack.
Christians need to claim the freedom they have been given from generational curses.
• We should find a spiritual mentor to help us deal with the behavioral issues we are facing.
• Galatians 3:13 - Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
• James 4:7 - Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
• 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Verse 5 - My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
• God reminded the Old Testament priests that His original covenant with them was one of life and peace.
• Life means being connected to God and to other people in a healthy wonderful way.
• Peace means having a calm, happy life of purpose and meaning.
• God made this covenant of life and peace with the Old Testament priests, but to keep it they had to honor God and follow Him.
• When they failed to do that, they lost the benefits of the covenant.
• The same thing has happened to Christians today.
• Through Christ, God the Father has made a covenant of life and peace with us.
• To receive the benefits of the covenant, we must honor God and follow Him.
• When we fail to do that, we do not receive those benefits.
• There is no benefit without responsibility.
Verse 6 - True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and fairness and turned many from sin.
• The priest who honored the covenant spoke the truth and did not say things that were wrong. How are we doing in that area?
• The priest who honored the covenant treated people fairly. How are we doing in that area?
• The priest who honored the covenant turned many people away from sin. How are we doing that area?
Verse 7 - For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of Hosts.
• The priest who honored the covenant guarded the knowledge of God so that it did not get watered down through the generations. Are we doing that with our children and grandchildren?
• People came to good priests to ask for spiritual instructions. When was the last time someone asked us for spiritual guidance?
Verse 8 - You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant . . .
• God rebukes the Old Testament priests harshly because they had done the exact opposite of what they were supposed to be doing.
• What about us? Have we caused people to stumble away from God? Have we violated God’s covenant? Have we started a curse that our children and grandchildren will bear?
Verse 9 - So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping My ways . . .
• The punishment for not keeping the covenant of life and peace was to be despised and humiliated before others.
• It can be a terrible thing when people begin to find out what we are really like.
• Are we happy with what we have become?
• Do we need to repent and return to God?
• Recognize that God wants us to accept a covenant of life and peace with Him.
• To receive the benefits of that covenant we must honor God and live as He wants us to.
• When we fail to do that, our blessings becomes curses instead.
• We can pass those curses on to our families if we do not repent of them.
• When we repent of our sins and determine to break the cycle of sin that grips our families, we can renew the covenant of life and peace that God wants between us and Him.
This post is part of a larger study of Malachi found in the book, "Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity."