Day 17

Warning to the Priests

from the Zechariah and Malachi reading plan


Malachi 2:1-16, Psalm 132:8-10, Hebrews 8:8-13

Far too many people have been there, myself included. I’m talking about that moment when you discover an invaluable covenant has been broken. Perhaps it was a marriage, a bond of friendship you thought was unbreakable, or an important business deal you were counting on.

When a trust has been broken, every area of your life is affected. The worst part, though, is the burn of betrayal you feel in your gut. It’s unrelenting and unquenchable. It keeps you up at night and destroys your appetite. It’s the sort of ache that can immobilize you mentally, spiritually, and even physically if not addressed with care.

It may be that you, too, have been there. It may be that you’re walking through something like what I’ve described right now. If you are, I want you to know that you can go to the Lord with every bit of pain you feel, with every unanswered question, and with every doubt. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), and He is able to sympathize with us because He has been on the receiving end of betrayal as well.

Even after God’s people had experienced the hardship of exile as a direct result of their sin, they returned to the land of promise only to slide back into disobedience once again. The priests were performing their duties without heart—offering up lame and blind animals, and defaming the reputation of God in the process. And the disdain for the Lord’s commands didn’t stop with the Levitical priesthood. Men were marrying foreign wives and worshiping their gods. Some were even divorcing the wives of their youth to do so.

When I read this passage from Malachi, I expect to hear God say, “And that’s why you’re going into exile again—this time for good! I’ve had it! I can’t take it anymore!” But He doesn’t say that. Yes, He’s angry. (At one point, He even says He’s going to spread the dung of the sacrificial animals on the faces of the priests so they can be hauled out of the camp and discarded just like refuse [Malachi 2:3].) But we know this isn’t the end of Israel’s story.

Even though there is no one who perfectly obeys the covenants and loves God with the intensity He deserves, God doesn’t give up on His people. Instead, He sends His Son to be an Israelite. Jesus becomes the perfectly obedient son of Abraham, of Jacob, of David. And He becomes the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice, once and for all. In this way, Christ takes every broken covenant and makes them whole, perfectly fulfilling the law and completing the task Israel never could.

We have all broken faith. We have all been betrayers. But in Christ’s obedience, there is good news for all who are united with the Lord in His life and His death: His righteousness is now our righteousness. And though we don’t deserve it by our own merit, God is now able to look upon us and say, “He walked with me in peace and integrity and turned many from iniquity” (Malachi 2:6). Amen.

Written by John Greco

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