Message from Malachi
A Prophetic Warning to the Church
Excrement and the Clergy
“Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces,
The refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it.”
In the second chapter of Malachi we find one of the most chilling and sobering warnings to the priests of Malachi’s day, and to the preachers of our day, found anywhere in Scripture. Malachi gives us just a glimpse of how our Lord views His priests and preachers and pastors— literally anyone who claims to speak for Him, who fail to give glory to His name (Mal. 2:2). And the actions of God against the clergy are disturbing, if not outright frightening.
No Honor to My Name
In Malachi 1:6, God begins to chastise the priests because of their disdain and hypocrisy for Him. They bend over backwards to offer praise and homage and respect to everyone on earth but Him. He says, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?” says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name.”
Later on in the chapter God again chastises the priests for offering polluted, defiled, worthless sacrifices to Him and trying to pass it off as true worship (Mal. 1:8). By the time we get to Malachi 1:10, God is telling the priests to “Shut the door of the temple and go home. You’re wasting your time and My time. No worship is taking place and I have no pleasure in you.” Why? Because they profane His name (Mal. 1:12), seem bored with the task of worship (Mal. 1:13), and greedily keep the best for themselves and give the scraps to God (Mal. 1:14).
The Rebuke of the Clergy
This is where it gets scary.
Remember Who is speaking: God Almighty, the great “I AM”, the Sovereign One, the Creator and Sustainer of everything, the Great and Final Judge. And remember who He is speaking to: the priests, the preachers and clergy, those who have been called and chosen by God to give Him honor, respect, obedience, love and awe. Before you sit back and smugly think this warning doesn’t apply to you since you are not a preacher, remember Revelation 1:6 where Christ has made each of us “kings and priests to His God and Father.” In other words, you and I are also priests of God and, like all priests, should spend our lives glorifying God— whether we have a seminary degree or not. This warning is for each of us today.
“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you” (Mal. 2:1).
What commandment? Does the word “this” refer to the commandments from chapter one or do they look forward to the commands of chapter two and following? Answer: both. And what happens when the priests fail to heed God’s warning, fail to repent, and give Him the glory due His name? What happens when preachers, pastors, evangelists, and teachers in the church become selfish, greedy, self-centered and self-seeking, narcissistic, nothing more than egotistical glory-seekers for themselves and begin to lead His sheep astray? What is God to do then?
“If you will not hear (or, listen, obey), and if you will not take it to heart (or, commit, consider), to give (what) glory to (what) My name,” says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart” (Mal. 2:2).
What is God commanding His priests, you and I, to do? Give glory to His Name. The term glory means the weight or gravity of God’s presence. It defines His importance and the honor He is due as God. The word name is mentioned 6 times in the first 16 verses of Malachi and is the summation of all the attributes of God: His character, reputation, everything. God is saying if they, we, do not give Him the glory due is name, He will send a curse upon us and our blessings. In fact, He says, that curse has already begun.
So how bad will the curse be? How serious is God about all of this? Is He more serious than He was in Revelation 3:16 where He “vomited them (the church) out of His mouth” for being apathetic, lethargic, and lukewarm?
“Behold, I will rebuke your descendants (or, offspring, children) and spread refuse (or, dung, fecal matter, excrement) on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it” (Mal. 2:3).
Really? God can’t be serious. Does God really mean He will spread, or smear refuse, or dung, fecal matter, excrement, on the faces of His priests and their descendants. I can’t believe God would do this? It seems so harsh, so hard. I didn’t think not giving glory to His name was that big of deal.
Well, it is. You’d better think again.
One of the natural byproducts of animal sacrifices, in addition to a torrent of blood, is excessive excrement or refuse or dung. Just like what happens when a frightened dog is put in a cage and taken to the Vet, the same thing happens to the cows, sheep, goats and other animals awaiting their death. The place where the animals were sacrificed reeked with excrement. According to Levitical law, the excrement, along with other parts of the sacrifice, was to be removed, carried outside the camp, and burned (Ex. 29:14; Lev. 16:27). They were considered disgusting, defiled, and had no place around the holiness of God. Of great offense to the priests would be to get fecal matter or dung on their clothing, sandals, or on their skin. God is saying to the priests He would take this same fecal matter, this animal excrement, and smear it into the creases of their faces. Why? Because refusing to show glory and honor to the Lord is not something He takes lightly. And then the priests are removed, outside of the camp, with the excrement, to be disposed of. This is what God thinks of those who hypocritically proclaim His name.
After God chastises His priests as such, He then says, “Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you” (Mal. 2:4). Then you’ll know how truly disgusted I am with you. Then you’ll know exactly how I feel about your hypocrisy and apathy and contempt for Me. Yes, then you’ll know how you smell to Me, not as a pleasing aroma, but as excrement. The animal refuse from your “solemn feasts” (Mal. 2:3).
How Should the Priests Repent?
“My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; so he feared Me and was reverent before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity” (Mal. 2:5-6).
God then uses Levi and as example of how He expects His priests to live and function and fulfill their duty as examples of holiness, righteousness, and sanctity before the God and the people. What God said to the priests in Malachi’s day, He also says to us today: We would be wise to listen and obey (Mal. 2:1).
One. the priests must live in contentment with God (Phil. 4:11-13), satisfied with the “life and peace” given them (Mal. 2:5).
Two, they must learn to live in the fear of the Lord, learning how to honor and revere Him above all else (Mal. 2:5). They must show profound respect for God, His glory, and His name.
Three, they must live and preach the truth. They must stand for God’s Word, His righteousness, justice, and equity (Mal. 2:6).
Four, they must spend their lives for the sake of others, as a watchman on the wall (Eze. 3:17), turning many away from iniquity by word and deed (Mal. 2:6).
Five, the priests must “walk with God” (Mal. 2:6). Not walk after God, but walk with God, like Elijah, like David, like Daniel, like Enoch. They must have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and care about nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).
Finally, the priests then and the preachers today must seek and speak the knowledge and truth of God. Why? For he, you and I, are a messenger of the Lord of Hosts.
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 2:7).
We, as preachers, as priests, as believers in Christ, as heirs, as joint heirs with the Lord (Rom. 8:17) must seek with every breath in our being the glory of God and the honor of His name.
For if we fail, it may take more than just a few handy wipes or a swipe of antibacterial lotion to wipe the excrement of our sin off our faces.