Daily Reflections December 29, 2017
Thanks to the exhortation of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the Jerusalem temple was restored. But the temple was full of unholy worship and corrupt priests. So, God sent Malachi to address and warn them if they continued to defile the temple. In the second chapter, the prophet directly rebukes the priests.
He first makes clear that walking according to God’s law brings blessing while rebellion brings curse. The sentiment here is the same as it was in Deuteronomy 28.
They had departed far from remembering the words of David in Psalm 119 – God’s law leads to life, peace, joy, and blessing. Therefore, he warns them of the negative consequences of not walking according to his law – death, strife, sorrow, and curse. He would turn his generous hand into a fist of wrath.
While this may sound simple enough, it is astounding how many of us are confused or get angry when our secret sins wreak havoc on our life. We try everything we can to fix the situation instead of considering whether we have transgressed God’s law. Focusing on our circumstances rather than whether we are walking righteously, we stumble further and further into more sin and cursing.
How much easier it would be to simply heed this warning from Malachi? When it seems that our life is out of control, blessings have turned into curses, intentionally stop and meditate upon God’s Word. Delight in his Law and repent of all unrighteousness. There may be other reasons God has brought trial to your life, but this is a good start.
We also see here that being associated with a group blessed by God does not ensure personal blessing. The covenant with Levi was made because of their zeal for God and his law. At Mount Sinai, when Moses catches Israel with the golden calf, he summons the nation to renewed faithfulness and the Levites rally with Moses to carry out judgment. Later, we see this same zeal when Israel worshiped Baal of Peor in Shittim and Aaron’s grandson, Phinehas (of the tribe of Levi) put to death the sexually immoral in order to turn God’s wrath from Israel. In response, God said to Moses,
“Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’” (Numbers 25:12-13)
This covenant set apart the tribe of Levi for God’s mediatory purposes. But it did not give license for the priests to be able to defile the priestly office and still be blessed. God ended up cursing many priests who made a mockery of the priesthood. And here, he vividly states that he would show them unfit for the priestly office if they continued desecrating the temple. When he says,
“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.” (Malachi 2:3),
it is more than a gross gesture. The dung, entrails, and fat of offerings were taken outside of the camp to be burned after a sacrifice because they were unclean. So, he is saying that he will refuse their offering and show that they are unclean and unworthy of the office of priesthood.
Of course, this ought to be a pungent warning to pastors and leaders of the church. But it also ought to be a warning to all who think that being associated with a church will allow them to be blessed even when they are persistently rebellious against God. It is not the mere association but rather the faithful zeal for God that reveal the blessings of Him.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
While there is a great deal that could be said about the nineteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, one of the most prominent themes is that of Jesus’ Kingship. This is a theme that John has been unravelling throughout his Gospel. Attentive readers will remember that Jesus was first proclaimed as King of the Jews by Nathaniel back in John 1:49. Now as we read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion we see his Kingship on full display.
That a King would be crucified was to the world an absurd idea, and we do indeed witness this in the words of both Pilate and the soldiers. Nevertheless, in hailing Jesus as King of the Jews they spoke more truth than they could have ever imagined, for as Jesus himself proclaimed, it was through his crucifixion that he would be most exalted (John 12:27-32).
Though many of us in the church are likely to take for granted the connection between Jesus’ crucifixion and his exaltation, it is worth stopping and reflecting on why this moment is so significant.
1. In his crucifixion Jesus showed himself to be the King who brings salvation.
Back in John 12 we read the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. John told us that the way Jesus entered the city was in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. In that reference the King comes and brings salvation to the people. This Jesus does for us by dying on the cross. The Apostle Peter put this Good News beautifully when he wrote:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. (1 Peter 2:24
2. Through the crucifixion Jesus opened the way for the nations.
Earlier in John’s Gospel we heard Jesus say:
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
It is fitting, therefore, that when he was crucified there was a sign proclaiming his Kingship in Aramaic, Latin, and the Greek. All who passed by, Jew and Gentile alike, would look and see Jesus proclaimed as King. Because of the crucifixion all nations stand on equal footing in their capacity to kneel before Christ as King and receive eternal life.
3. In the crucifixion Jesus showed himself to be the triumphant King.
Once again revisiting John 12, we are told that it is through the crucifixion that Jesus will cast out the devil (John 12:31). What initially looked like defeat was actually the triumph of Christ. When Christ died on that cross he paid the wages of our sin and removed all of our guilt. The devil, who is the deceiver, can now only speak empty lies to those who have been washed by the blood of Christ.
So to in the crucifixion of Christ we see God’s judgement on the unbelieving Jews. As the Jews cry out that they have no King but Caesar they denounce their God and openly show their guilt. Christ, however, will soon rise victorious. The religious leaders will no longer be able to rely on their ethnic status, but will together with the nations rise and fall based on their response to the risen King.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier