"The High Calling of Proclamation"
We are all a priesthood of believers. We are all proclaimers of God's greatness. Some, like preachers and teachers, stand before the people to proclaim truth - a truth that turns many away from sin.
The High Calling of Proclamation
A. In just the first six weeks of this year there have been multiple school shooting that have resulted in death or injury. What happened in Florida this past week has touch many people deeply and calls for action and who to blame has become the topic of many on social media and the news.
B. We read about the horrible way many women have been treated for years and again we look to place blame because the outcome is so disgusting to us.
C. We read about how many abortions have taken place since the government stepped made some legal statements in 1973 or the morality of our leaders or the profanity on TV or many other things and we lay blame as it seems logical to us.
D. Malachi turns in this passage to lay blame where it belonged concerning the sins of Israel – at the feet of the priests. The lack of respect in sacrifices, the rise of divorce among the children of Israel, Malachi says is because of the poor teaching by the priests. Mal. 2:1-2. At the end of this section God lays out the problem (READ Mal. 2:8-9).
E. The calling by God is to be proclaimed as holy, to be treated as holy, to be worshiped as holy, and to keep the commandments as holy.
F. When the heart has a problem it affects the body. The heart of the priests is bad and the effect of it is that the whole of the Israelite community is spiritually suffering.
I. The Purpose of Preaching
A. Today, many churches grow or shrink for one or more of three main reasons – the preaching style, the music style, the programs offered to families and children.
B. In the early church, preaching or teaching was primary, singing was not as important to a persecuted church as depth of teaching. When we look at the church today, we have people like me who are employed by a single church.
C. But if you go back to the days of Malachi, you had God’s design of a priesthood whose responsibilities included helping people worship through sacrifices and offerings, and helping people have an understanding of the Law – that is, giving the meaning for their everyday life.
D. When Jesus began preaching his first year of ministry seems to center around teaching in synagogues around Galilee helping people understand the truth of God’s written word, not just the legalist and manipulative teachings they often received from priests and rabbis.
D. I love what God says the purpose of teaching was all about. Look at Mal. 2:5-7 and let’s hear God speak of His original covenant and desired action from Levi and the priesthood. (READ Text)
II. Covenant of Life and Peace
A. As we walk through this text, we start in verse 5 and hear God tell the priests that He gave Levi a covenant of life and peace. We openly admit our sin. If there is anything every Christian has done in their life is confessed to the fact they are sinner in need of a savior.
B. Sin is not simply an issue that came into existence with the incarnation, sin is a human problem that goes back to Adam and Eve and seen in great consequences with Cain. Sin breaks our relationship with God and leaves us then to stand before a Holy God on Judgement with no covering to “hide our sin.” For the Jews, God gave them a way to have their sins covered, it was the sacrificial system. Moses and Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, helped to direct the spiritual covenant that created peace with God by the atonement of sin through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb.
C. When Jesus came from God as both God and man, he preached a message of repentance and taught about a type of salvation would come through him at his death. When Jesus went to the cross, Peter says that in 1 Pet. 2:24.
D. Like the offering of life and peace that came through the sacrificial system lead by the priest, Jesus offers all today life and peace – peace as in harmony with God.
III. Knowledge and Instruction
A. Look at verses 6-7 together. What we take from these verses is that teaching became a primary focus for helping the Israelites live out the faith God expected from Holy people. While we are blessed to each own our own Bible that really was not something most of history was blessed with. Many times whole communities had to pool together to get handwritten copies of the Torah to use in synagogues. For many years, people of all nations relied upon the priest or preacher to help them know the teachings of God because they did not have a personal copy of the Bible.
B. The point of proclamation and teaching was to help people turn from sin and walk in the ways of God. That was not different in Malachi’s day, except the priest of his day did not call sin a sin and the spiritual life of the congregation of Israel suffered.
C. Helping people understand sin is not about telling them how bad they are, but how Holy God is. When people fall in love with a Holy God and see the grace and love He freely gives, repentance is natural. When repentance is based upon browbeating it often doesn’t transform, it simply temporarily changes a person.
A. I love the story of the Ethiopian who was reading from the scroll of Isaiah and said to Philip, “How can [know] unless someone teaches me.” (Acts 8:30-31). Right then, Philip taught him from scripture about Jesus and the effect of the teaching was the man wanted to be immersed in water because he knew he was a sinner.
B. What about you. In classes and sermons like this, I hope you hear God’s voice speaking to you. His voice may be comforting and encouraging you to keep on keeping on. His voice may be convicting you to turn from some sin and walk in the light. His voice may be calling you from the darkness of broken relationship, where no grace is found to come to him humbly, letting God wash away your sin in the action we call baptism. Listen and hear the voice of God.