“And now, O priests, this command (warning) is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honour to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings.Malachi 2:1-2
Unfaithful leaders have continually harassed the church in South Africa and around the world.
Locally, Pastor Mboro, from the Incredible Happenings Church, is a self-proclaimed prophet. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley and BMW i8 (which costs an estimated R2 million). Guards carrying AK47 assault rifles guard him.
In 2016, he claimed to have gone to heaven. He took a selfie with his Galaxy smartphone to prove it. For R5000 he will WhatsApp you the photo.
Many in his church are poor and struggling to make ends meet.
Further afield, in the Church of England there has been a huge turning away from the Bible by many ministers and bishops.
Recently, Melvin Tinker, an evangelical minister, was banned from preaching at a Carol’s service at Derby Cathedral.
Astonishingly, the Cathedral was willing to host the viewing of sexually explicit movies earlier this year. The Dean of the Cathedral permits erotic films, but banned an evangelical preacher.
There are countless examples of leaders in the church falling far short of the standard God requires.
Malachi teaches us that God holds leaders accountable.
In Malachi 2:1 God singles out the leaders of God people, the priests, for rebuke.
The priests had a wrong attitude.
They refused to give the Lord of Hosts the honour due his name. They were willing to offer him lame, sick and stolen animal on the altar (1:14).
The priests failed in their doctrine and teaching.
Rather than teach God’s law faithfully, they taught with favouritism and failed to guard knowledge (2:7, 9).
Their behaviour was also disgraceful; they turned many from the way (2:8).
The priests, by their lackadaisical attitude, wrong doctrine and unfaithful behaviour, turned people to sin, instead of from sin. They caused many to stumble in their faith (2:8).
In the absence of repentance, God would curse the priests and end his special contract with the tribe of Levi (2:2).
What can we learn from Malachi?
Jesus is our proper priest
Malachi helps us to see our need for a priestly leader with the right attitude, sound doctrine and soundness of life and behaviour.
Malachi prepares us for Jesus.
Jesus lived the righteous, perfect life we could never live. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with God in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from sin (2:6).
And yet God cursed him.
On the cross, Jesus bore the curse that should be ours so that God can bless us (Galatians 3:13). Through faith in Jesus, we can now have life and peace (2:5).
The covenant with Levi failed because of human sin, so God made a new covenant in Jesus.
The importance of proper leaders
Jesus is our great king, priest and leader.
Nevertheless, God still calls leaders to lead his people, under him.
Christian leaders need to set an example of right attitude, sound doctrine and faithful behaviour.
Leaders have a proper recognition of their smallness and God’s bigness, their unworthiness and God’s worthiness, their sinfulness and God’s holiness.
They should guard and give true knowledge and doctrine. Not their own knowledge, but the knowledge of God that he has revealed in the Bible.
Christian leaders are to faithfully proclaim what God has said in his Word, even when (and especially when) it’s unpopular – lest they turn people to sin, not from sin.
Shame on church leaders who warp the Bible to suit their greed, opinions and selfish desires.
Christian leaders call sin sin, and call sinners to repentance. They remind people that God’s grace is sufficient, even for the vilest offender.
Malachi teaches us that God will judge unfaithful leaders. God holds leaders accountable. God holds deceivers more accountable than the deceived.
Christian leaders should also set an example in behaviour.
Their lifestyle should match their lips, their walk match their talk, and their conduct match their creed.
Sadly, scandalous leaders assault the church today. Perhaps a church leader has caused you to stumble?
God is not unaware.
God will bring his just, uncompromising judgement on those that bring his great Name into disrepute.
Pray regularly for your church leaders that they would be faithful examples in their attitude, doctrine and behaviour. Pray regularly that God would help them to point people to our best leader, Jesus.