Author, speaker, and former pastor John Maxwell once said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” In this section of Malachi, we see God addressing Israel’s spiritual leaders who knew the way but chose to go the other direction. How will a sovereign, merciful, and just God address leaders who are leading his children astray?
- Think of a time when you knew the way to go, but chose the opposite direction. What were the ramifications of this decision?
READ THE WORD: MALACHI 2:1-9 (ESV)
2:1 “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.”
- Reread verse 2. Under what conditions, and in what way, did God promise to discipline the spiritual leaders of Israel?
- In verses 4-7, there is a promise that God gave to the Levitical priesthood. What were some of the blessings that occurred when Levi responded in awe, respect, and obedience to God?
- How were the Israelite priests responding to God (vss. 8-9)?
- The priests knew the blessing that came from obedience and leading well. Why do you think they chose to be self-led instead of God-led?
- Although we are currently in the new covenant of grace, there are still consequences to not following God’s way as one of his children. In light of this, ask yourself: am I being God-led or self-led?
RESPOND TO GOD
In 1 Peter 2:5, we learn that because of Christ’s sacrifice all of God’s children are part of the holy priesthood of believers. Because of the cross, we have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ, our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16). What an amazing gift! With this gift comes a leadership choice: to be God-led or self-led at any particular moment. We can turn our faces in awe and worship toward the One who gave it all, or turn our backs toward him and do it our way. The first way leads to deep, rich fellowship with him; the other leads to self-inflicted wounds and relational separation.
- Ask God to cleanse you of any area of your life where you are not being led by him.