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Curse on the Clergy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 29, 2020 8:00 am

Curse on the Clergy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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June 29, 2020 8:00 am

Malachi speaks with great relevance today. As Malachi reminds the people of his day to remain faithful to God, he also teaches us to keep the promises we make to God and to one another. As you study this series youll also learn the importance of faithfulness, marriage, and why God hates divorce. Malachi will encourage you by looking forward to the great future day of Gods coming, and challenge you by facing new beginnings with faith.

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Welcome to the Bible study confessing featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Bortz for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our repairing you to think and act biblically are some things that are very difficult for a preacher to talk about in one of those. Perhaps the most difficult of all is said those of his own profession. The clergy, because I'm sure you understand these criticisms. Scott very close to home that you can really teach the book of Malachi carefully without dealing with the clergy on their sins because this is a major theme in Malachi's prophecy last time.

As we began an introduction to Malachi.

We looked at the book as a whole and focused in part on the introductory section. The first five verses this point, beginning with verse six of chapter 1 continuing not only through the whole of chapter 1, but as far as the ninth verse of chapter 2 we have the first right section of the book which deals with the clergy sent is probably the longest section in the book and what's more, even though from this point on, it begins to talk more broadly about the sins of the people in general. Certainly the sins of the clergy are in view Malachi is not staring at his criticism, a cites the clergy were offering defiled sacrifices upon God's older for harming the people for looking upon the office of the priest is something that is contemptible and intolerable and even for defying God talks about those four things in this first section and when he finishes that in the second section where chapter 2 begins the admonishes priests to turn from their sin to repent or curse will come upon an those verses that we want to study together tonight makes me think of Richard Baxter, Puritan Baxter lived in an age and work among ministers that we would say in comparison with our selves set a high mark for godliness in church discipline, yet in Baxter's great classic reformed pastor Baxter analyzes the sins of the clergy, with devastating effect says at one point, the great and lamentable Senate ministers of the gospel is that they are not fully devoted to God. Do not give themselves up wholly to the blessed work they have undertaken to do. We live in a less favored age that were true in Baxter's diet is most certainly true in our own day and therefore we face this problem in this section of Malachi. I hope with an attitude as those who share in the ministry of repentance and humility before God and his laypeople prayer that God might by his grace, makeup in his time and in his own way for this lamentable condition of the church should be a cause of repentance, humility and prayer on all our parts now in reformed pastor Baxter calls for repentance and does so with a great deal of humility on his own party says we need to humble ourselves and lamentation for miscarriages before the Lord say that's a sort of thing you can live with. As a matter fact that's what you want. It's never the case.

Never has been. I'm sure the whole history of the church that those who serve as God's ministers are above and beyond reproach. Always, there is sin there is there is always sin in all of our hearts to see if the pastors have an attitude of humility before God and the sensitivity to their shortcomings in these areas then that is an attitude with which God can work God will bless a humble low and imperfect attempt to serve him.

Unfortunately, in Malachi's day, and I must say, in my judgment that many circles in our own time. The opposite is the case instead of the ministers of the gospel having a repentant and humble attitude before God, where they seek God's blessing and guidance in strength to overcome what they know to be sin and weakness in themselves instead of that have an attitude that seeks to justify himself before God and is anything but repentant. What the priests dad when God came to them to bring their shortcomings in their minds, they replied, what shortcomings far as they were concerned they were doing everything perfectly well. I have four great criticisms in this latter half Malachi 1. Let me take some time just look at them one at a time. The first one that emerges sin that exchange that we talked about in our last study were God says something and they say how that happens twice over this portion of the Scripture. The first on them, which is highlighted by that particular kind of exchange of the priest defiled God's altar by offering defiled sacrifices. God said we read it in verse six it is you owe priests who despise my name and they said hollow. We despise your name and God replies you place defiled food on my altar and they say how we defiled you see the point of that is that they were offering blind disease and injured animals that died nobody else wanted. Yet, when God's call it to their attention that they weren't offering them the best they were utterly insensitive to what they were doing. They somehow July weird wayward doing a wonderful job. How can you possibly criticizes doing anything of the sort. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that is often the case, I look at the state of the church in our time, and I think that's again and again Sunday by Sunday year by year ministers of God offer that would choose the file fence. It unworthy of the service of God. When that is mentioned or when it's called their attention responses why there has never been a better time of the whole history of the church. Why look what we're doing.

Look how well we're doing looked at all our books look at all our radio programs. Look at all our television. All our Sunday school literature why nobody is doing better than we are, yet is quite possible that in spite of all these tools at our disposal. The church is never been in a more impoverished state where the knowledge of the great doctrines and cruise and even the content in general of the word of God is concerned. Some years ago. Now when the first world Congress on evangelism was held in Berlin, Germany. Billy Graham was present on that occasion and he gave an address the title of which was stains on the altar used text in Jeremiah where Jeremiah talked about the unworthy service that was being provided by the priests of God and Billy Graham asked the question of the 1200 or so evangelical leaders gathered there for that world Congress. Are there stains on the altar of your service of God.

Graham was not asking that you understand the liberal church was not asking that of unbelieving men or women. He was asking that of evangelicals was asking that of himself and he raised the question, are there stains on the altar of our service began to list various categories in which that could be possible. First of all, he said other stains on the altar of your conversion, William Baxter and the work I mentioned a moment ago said God never save anyone for being a preacher, we might say, as well, but never save anyone because they went to church or because they learn to Sunday school lesson or even because they read a certain portion of the Bible. The very fact that a man is a preacher does not mean that he's converted. Billy Graham said are you often got unworthy sacrifices in that respect.

Secondly, he said, are there stains on the altar of your call. Amen. Serve in the ministry like they would serve in any other profession, and they not been called to it by God.

Fortunately, some of the realized long course of the years and the dropout enter secular professions, but unfortunately many others do not. Billy Graham was pointing that you ask your other stains on the altar of your devotional life.

One occasion some years ago at a pole would start one seminarians I don't know if you get ministers themselves and their work to respond to such a bold seminarians did one of the questions on the pole was do you have a devotional life.

94% of the seminarians confessed they had no devotional life whatsoever. Stains on the altar of your devotional life or you often got unworthy sacrifices and that respect stains on the audit of your message. Many men offer a message which is man centered and flesh pleasing but is devoid of strong and disturbing doctrines of word of God. Are there stains on the altar of your social concern or the stains on the altar of your evangelism. Other stains of the audit of your relationship, your brother, all of these were questions of the Grand Master that occasion of the evangelical leaders of our time.

I'm particularly disturbed by that matter of the message because I'm convinced that it's many men I'm not talking about merely about liberal bad web no message at all. In many cases but but evangelical manner, at least those who profess to be evangelical really don't give themselves to the preparation of the word of God in their public preaching. You go to a average newspaper in this country and you look at the religion play page on Saturday to see what subjects the men are going to preach on the next day you have a very hard time getting into any intimation of those sermon titles of any great doctrine of the word of God, all you get a lot of entertaining titles and a lot of references to dominant social events and moments, but the great doctrines of the word of God or often lacking in this far as the preparation goes, I'm convinced that most men don't make the kind of effort that would cause anybody across town or even across the street in order to hear the sermon offer God defiled sacrifices when they stand in the pulpit to preach on Sunday morning or Sunday evening. All it would make a tremendous difference in the church life of our nation. If the those who were genuinely born again and are genuinely called of God, and serve in the pulpits would take this seriously and give attention and spend time on messages that are delivered to God's people. Let's first thing Malachi mentions the second one is that they harm the people again priest of Israel certainly wouldn't of acknowledged that there doing this they would say, quite the contrary were serving the people. After all, they bring their sacrifices receive them, and when the other sacrifices we offer up their sacrifices. We do all that sometimes occasionally there's some needs that we minister to, in one way or another. After all, we do have the temple treasury Risley offering box into the offering box for the poor, and we do distribute the offering box from time to time. Malachi says oh no no no it's it's a terrible fault that we find here because since the brace for not taking the service of God seriously and offering defiled sacrifices, what they really do is teach the people of God, offered filed sacrifices as well. I think this is the reason why three times over in this section. Malachi uses the phrase among the nation's interesting. He's not talking to the nation.

Some of the other minor prophets do that they pronounce judgment of all the nations round about. That's not really Malachi's concern. Malachi is talking to his own people and in this section to the priest.

Among his own people with a very narrow scope of concern that while he does that three times over verse 11 twice in the last verse of the chapter verse 14 he talks about God's name being great among the nations. God's name being great among the nations.

God's name being great among the nations.

What does he do that because obviously if God's name is scorned home God's name will be scorned. Gary home to the priest saying if you priest about honor my name, the people will not honor my name of the people do not honor my name, the nation will not honor my name is the same thing. You know that you find in the New Testament in the book of Romans where Paul is writing to the religious people of his day. Jews, primarily those whom he addresses himself and he says all look you think it really something important because you're instructed in the law when he asked the question do you keep the law preach against idolatry. But do you practice idolatry you preach against acrylate sure you guilty of sacrilege.

Then he says and what is perhaps one of the most damning statements ever to be spoken against somebody who professes to know and serve the true God of God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you to sin.

Sin is always bad. It is worse to send willfully and carelessly. But even worse than those two things is to do so in such a way that you cause others to stumble or Jesus Christ talk about children on one occasion he said rather than cause a little one to stumble. It is better that the person involved should have a stone tied around his neck and that he should be thrown into the sea and drowned. I was or Jesus Christ speaking here. Malachi is citing the priest of his day for this very failure is 1/3 thing, he talks about of this is disparaging priest's office really a sad thing you find it verse 12 talking there about priest profaning the Lord's table.

They say it's defiled and they say it's contemptible, and verse 13 you say what burden, and you sniff at it contemptuously.

I suppose if these priests were confronted by that they would've denied its fiber denying everything else. I must say I've heard that, Don. I've heard ministers talk about their profession as it was the weightiest most unpleasant, most unrewarding thing in the world and I must say there are times when it's difficult when is it never been difficult to stand for the truth to speak again sin to call people to righteousness trying to speaking to somebody getting a little bit advice sometime you find how hard it is even the mildest way to give a little bit of advice, even apart from anything spiritual. Certainly, the ministry is difficult but the ministry is no burden be able to speak for God. Whether that is an unofficial way from the pulpit or in the Sunday school class or merely one. The one is you is that individual who knows God, and cares about others shares the teaching of the word of God.

There is no greater privilege in all the world and that because we share the greatest thing in all the world is the life giving fruitful, inerrant word of God itself.

Yet here you have men who so ever. It is how contemptible it is to be engaged in such a service. The last thing Malachi 4 is defying God.

You see, that's something we've seen all along. This is what was characteristic of the time in which I tried to point out in our last study is so characteristic of our own time.

If we send our way would be entirely proper for God simply wash his hands on us and let us, we choose send willfully have the fruit of your sand.

God can easily take that attitude he be right. God doesn't do that God comes to these managers. Look what you're doing. Look how you're sending look what's happening is affecting you because it's affecting you. It's affecting the people, and it affects the people is affecting the nations as a whole.

God comes graciously to rebuke them for their sin. What they do is defined as words back in the space they say you better have relevance for what you're saying because we don't agree with your assessment of all different was the patriarch Joe Job you know is described by God himself as being a righteous man called attention to Joe conversation with Satan. On one occasion inside of you considered my servant Job, there is no one like him in all the earth, a righteous man who fears God and shuns evil that was God's testimony of Joe yet. When Job suffered the loss only had and when the counselors came in. Job replied as best he could, against their cruel, unjust assessments of the situation when God came after the counselors and finish God reminded Job of Job's own ignorance ultimate things in God's own wisdom. Job did not say, as these on righteous priests of Malachi's day did God. How could you do such a thing is utterly unjust. On the contrary, humbled himself before God and said before this, my ears and heard about you, but now mine eyes have seen you and I repent and humble myself and dust and ashes. That's the righteous man when confronted by God and the one who says you better give an account of yourself. That's not the righteous man that's a self righteous man here is Malachi saying the priest of the day that they were self righteous and actually unrighteous man indeed. One interesting point in this chapter is worth calling special attention to and that's verse 10 God expresses wish. In verse 10, the somebody would shut the temple doors because what was being done within the temple was so displeasing to him. It's interesting little footnote on history that the Qumran sect sect wrote what we commonly call the Dead Sea Scrolls use this verse referred to it explicitly in a document called the Damascus.

This rule to justify the rejection of the Jerusalem temple. They said God himself said I would.

Somebody would shut the doors and so they said we won't have anything to do with that temple worship in Jerusalem and, with its bracelet and so they just withdrew an answer to the monastic community down there in the desert around the Dead Sea area however did that you see when God says all the one of you would shut the temple doors God is actually conveying and that a threat that he might very well do that himself on some occasion in the future.

Those who profess to be God's priest on repent of their sin.

They didn't repent of their sin. The time came when God did indeed himself shut the doors and came with the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman armies under Titus and 87 they were in the temple worship ended forever never been reminds forever. God himself said it was good that should happen rather than that of filed sacrifices should continue to be offered may I apply that to our time there are many churches in our land that would serve God better by closing their doors and discontinuing their worship by continuing to offer up the kind of defiled message. The vile Christian service that they do before we say to glibly all yes yes I know places like that to search our hearts make sure that that's not true of us that all of our service instead of being displeasing and filed by Dick said instead be acceptable in the sight of God, with whom we have to do well. Malachi points out the failures of the priests in that chapter. When he comes to the second chapter he calls them to repentance, tells of the curse is being pronounced upon them because of their sin thing that interests me most in the second chapter versus 139 is a little section that comes right in the middle when, by contrast with the failures of the priest in chapter 1. Malachi talks about that one was a true minister of the gospel we read these verses. Verses five through seven is contrasting the priest with Levi, the father of the priest she say out to be like the one who gave his name to the priestly line, my covenant was with him as God, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him. This called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips walk with me in peace and uprightness in many return from sin lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men seek instruction because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty see in chapter 1, Malachi cites the priests for four great failures here in these verses speaks of a true minister and he does so in the corresponding four categories number one is called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. You know, I'm sure that in many of our translations of the Bible the word fear is used when it really ought to mean reverence as a text fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom at work. Fear really means reverence in the text should read the reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is the first thing God calls for two reverence God. How can anything else come before this because if in those who serve God that is not approved reverence for God is the true God, the glorious sovereign God.

He truly is nothing else good could possibly follow reverence. First of all, the second item is true instruction, true instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips from whence does that true instruction, doesn't come reman because at the best we speak truth, mingled with their sometimes we speak for more error than we speak truth only way in which any human being and speak truth and speak in such a way that nothing false can be found in his or herů If that individual speaks the truth of God found in Scripture is what the priest called upon to do. This is why it doesn't speak clearly of truth, but it speaks of true instruction that is priests to instruct people out of God's word is it happened historically adjust this time under Ezra Neil Maia there a lot been rediscovered and it was red in the temple steps for the people in the priests interpreted it in order that those who hurt but understand what the law God was really say. Malachi says that's the second characteristic of those who serve in this way, the third item.

Also in that versus what we would call piety or godliness.

He walked with me in peace and up rightness and as a result, he turned many from sin.

Over the course of the years I hear many prayers uttered by other people.

For myself, sometimes from this pulpit and I must say all the prayers that I hear others honor for me prayer that I might be godly is perhaps in my mind the most important of all, I don't particularly care people pray that I might be a good preacher.

I certainly want to try to be that if I can, and I'm sure the prayers help and I don't particularly care if they asked that I have what we think of his success in worldly terms what we think of his success is generally something quite different from what God regards success. That doesn't move me at all, but I do appreciate is when someone prays that I might be godly. That's what we need to see we need godly ministers men were godlike in their character godlike in their commitment to the truth godlike in their service and what further people of all those things characterize our God. That's what should be seen in God's people in the Bible and his ministers. This is what Malachi is talking about the last item verse seven is the preservation of knowledge for the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction. What's he talking about here is he talking about the details of Bible exposition want to know the proper list of the Hebrew kings go to your minister.

He can recite them for you.

Want to know who the 12 apostles were be able to get them by name, put them in the proper order to what happened to them know all of the cities of the apostle Paul visited on his missionary journeys kind of thing they teach in Sunday school that might be good if a minister knew that I wish I could give all the cities. I'm not sure I can but I am also sure that this is not primarily what Malachi has in mind. What is this knowledge that the priest is the preserve is this not the knowledge of God, which is salvation or Jesus Christ said this is eternal life, that they might know the only true God and Jesus Christ that was sent. This is the kind of knowledge. The ministers of God are to pass on the people all the wonderful if we had a generation man, and others who were committed that kind of ministry our own time. Martin Luther was very impressed with this passage, Martin Luther really is a wonderful source of insights into many of these Old Testament texts and when a doctor this point the preservation of knowledge through the preaching of the word, Luther wrote some words about the value of preaching actually declaring the whole counsel of God in order. The knowledge might be passed on. Luther said this certainly God could with his spirit instruct to justify those we would, but it is pleased as wisdom or to instruct and save those who believe the foolishness of preaching the word is the channel through which the Holy Spirit is given. This is a passage against those who hold the spoken word in contemptů The public reservoirs of the church in them alone is kept the word of God unless the word is preach publicly, it slips away, the more it is preached more firmly it is retained reading.

It is not as profitable as hearing it for the live voice teachers exhorts defends and resists the spirit of error.

Satan does not care a hoot for the written word of God, but he flees the speaking of the work. This penetrates hearts and leads back those who stray. I'm almost a little surprised that Luther would say that that he would contrast the written word unfavorably with the spoken word because Luther, as you well know, at such a commitment to the written word. What this says is that Luther recognized God in a special way honors the proclamation of his truth. He was saying for his time. The time of the Reformation would we had more faithful ministers to do that in our churches with the we had them today.

I know that this study because of the Bible study hour gets preached all over the country and I know that on normal Sunday morning are probably thousands of ministry. Who here these studies before they go to priest themselves that I would say those who will hear this message. Be faithful in the exposition of the word. There is no higher calling on the surface of the earth, but I would say also to those layman who hear it. Now, even as I speak. This is what we need. This is what we should pray for, would you pray, pray that God would so bless our church in our time might grow and prosper.

Word of God is set forth to exhort the fan and resists the spirit of air by the grace of God bring men and women feet of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray our father. We recognize as those before us in earlier ages of the church also recognized for their time that ours is a paltry age we boast of our strength when we are actually week we want ourselves in our spiritual wealth when actually we are poor say how wise we are when actually we are foolish. Our father give us that humility by which we bow low before you and your word and bowing mollified in your word is your spirit speaks to us that which we need so become strong and wise through your work in our hearts through Christ our Lord. You have been listening to the Bible study our production of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals clients of confessing Evangelicals exist to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of Reformation theologians from decades, even centuries gone by.

We seek to provide contemporary Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. The alliance ministry includes the Bible study hour featuring Dr. James voice every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Rieke and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Gray Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a full list of radio stations carrying our programs or to make a contribution. Please contact us by calling toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia, PA 19103 work, you can visit us online at ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio teachings, commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians, including Donald Barnhouse, James Boyce and Philip Rieke. Thank you again for your commencing

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