Few people learn from history, and think what they do today is the only thing that matters. I delve into history all the time, to try and see where our vain ideas come from, and how to learn from the errors of the past. In history we see the seed of what we are today. The Old Testament is not dry as old bones, except to those who have no true spiritual desires and no concept of what their lives are all about. It is alive!
We are all the same when we sin – we usually enjoy it and do not wish to stop. Or, we sin because it suits us at the time, no matter what the excuse is. That is a fact, even if we try to deny it. Sin, however, always has consequences, not just for ourselves and our family, but also for our local churches and the nation as a whole.
The seeds of our own nation’s state can be found in this chapter, where the awfulness of sin is recorded by God. He must act against the sinner, and He will bring down any nation that rejects Him, or that acts against what He says. Wickedness is now rampant around the world. In the western world we now have ‘leaders’ we deserve – we deserve them because we have been very lax and godless, and only tried fighting back when it was too late, after God had implemented His judgment upon is. Because of this, we will see a much greater influx of wickedness. Learn from history!
We also see the reality of idolatry, marriage and divorce, and following inane theological theories of our own choosing. All combine to make us an unprofitable people, stiff-necked and useless to God. Amongst our Christian numbers are foolish people who call Barack Obama a ‘messiah’! He is a wicked Marxist plotter, out to ruin his own country and Christians with it. He is of the same ilk as Gordon Brown and Tony Blair – evil men who level all people to their own godless sinfulness. In both countries, Christians have not learned from history, and welcome wicked men, so losing God’s blessings.
Verses 1 - 3
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
Though we could legitimately say that ‘priests’ – kohen - in chapter one could also apply to all Christians, in this chapter it can only be applied to ‘priests’. That is, pastors of the people. Of course, what applies to pastors also applies to all Christians in principle, because in the eyes of Christ all Christians are of equal standing. However, pastors have a special command to look after the people, and are held to account (see Revelation) if they fail by reason of sin. Therefore, we may apply the words of this chapter generally to all Christians, but primarily and specifically to pastors.
If the pastors (priests) hear and obey, God says they will give glory to God. But, if they do not, they dishonour His name, and He will “curse (their) blessings”. God was giving them a command, a ‘mitzvah’. This meant it was obligatory, a teaching with the force of a command or law, including prohibitions, which themselves imply God’s anger against those who disobey. An example is the joyous celebration known as ‘bar mitzvah’, which translates as ‘son of the commandment’, and its female equivalent, ‘bat mitzvah’, ‘daughter of the commandment’. At age 13 (12 for girls) the son/daughter is expected to fulfill all the commandments of God, or to suffer God’s legal punishments. Sadly, like Christians, few Jews now have a true understanding of such a sombre obligation.
This highlights what God says: He will curse (their) blessings. This might seem like a contradiction in terms. It also implies that God has already ordained to give blessings. The blessings, Běrakah, are invocations for the good, blessings of God upon those who are faithful. The capital letter denotes a noun of importance used of blessings already promised to those of Israel who obey.
The curses, ‘arar, are marks of detestation from God; also imply that the ‘waters’ drank by the priests were poisoned and would destroy them.
If we put the two together, then, a paraphrase of “I will curse your blessings” can be something like, ‘I will let your own sins prevent my goodness from influencing your lives’. As I have often said before, on this earth, the worst penalty of all is to be bereft of God’s presence, because, then, sin holds power in the life, along with its results.
Because God acts in a predestinatory manner, such curses were already applied to these priests, because He foreknew their refusal to obey. Thus, for their sins, they would suffer on this earth, and so would the people who followed them. This is what happens today, when people follow sinful pastors. There is never an excuse for Christians to blindly follow sinful (or any) pastors, and never an excuse for the pastor himself, who is held fully accountable. What for? For everything he does that damages the people… behaviour, teachings, doctrine, etc. All must be perfect. There is no room whatever for personal interpretation or laxity.
Not only did God curse the priests, but He would ensure that their children and those who followed as priests, would suffer, because they would repeat the same sins. God would rub their noses in the ‘dung’ they dare to call God’s “solemn feasts”. The priests who burn these sacrifices will burn with the feasts, both being rejected as corrupt. This tells us that pastors who act unfaithfully risk God’s wrath upon all who follow them, as well as upon themselves and their own offspring. Why? Because what God demands is law. We may not ‘re-interpret’ what He says or dare to say they are ‘in the past’.
Today, we all reap the unfaithfulness of men called by God who have sinned by not applying His rule to life and to kings. These are men with prominence, a status given to them by their peers, but which they do not deserve, for they play fast and loose with God’s commands. They twist scripture to make it mean evil. Examples are the legitimization of perverse sexual behaviours; the allowance of sin in leaders; the watering-down or official ‘disappearance’ of sin as the cause of national evils; hiding the need for salvation through Jesus Christ alone, by grace alone, and so on.
Many who are deemed famous, including preachers and teachers, or are well thought of, come under these accusations. They are not famed in God’s eyes, but infamous, and they will suffer the loss of blessings by their own actions. And those who follow them will suffer the same.
Verses 4 - 7
And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
These commands of God were known, because they were given previously to the sons of Levi, the priestly tribe. With the commands went promises if they obeyed, just as we today are given promises of joy, but tears of punishment or loss if we disobey.
God is again reminding the priests of their obligations to God and men, for His promises and penalties were for all of earth’s time. He gave them life and peace if they were faithful. By ‘life’ is meant chay; joyous living, with refreshment and fruitfulness and revival of spirit, together with the sustaining of what they needed.
The ‘peace’, shalowm, is safety, health, welfare, tranquility, contentment, with friendship and freedom from war. Disobedience in a people leads to war and loss of personal peace and quiet. Things go very wrong. Thus, what we see happening today is not particularly caused by national sin, but by the sin of Christians who disobey and are lax.
At first Levi, his family, and priests, were afraid. They had terror in their hearts if they disobeyed, and were awed by God’s miraculous interventions, so they held Him in reverence, mowra’. They feared God, yare’, and so lived in purity and feared Him, chathath: were discouraged from sinning and broken in spirit (humble).
Today, which Christian fears God? Almost none. That is why Christians have no effect on anyone, and why their spiritual lives are all but dead. The proof is in the way the nation has gone, in the way false spirituality has taken over (such as charismaticism), and in the way laxity is the rule, together with bad doctrine. No-one cares, so their blessings are hidden behind their own sins. Where is YOUR fear of God? Why do you not care about it? Why do you carry on in your own strength and yet wonder why evil has befallen your nation?
It has not always been that way, said God. At first Levi and the priests had the law of God ready on their lips, which spoke no sin. Thus, they walked with God in peace and uprightness. By living pure lives and teaching purity, they turned others away from sin and depravity, and so the nation prospered.
Today? The depravity all around us is there because of our failure to be pure and holy. We cannot escape this conclusion, for it is what God said to the Hebrews. Our nation is as it is because of our unfaithful hearts, and so we harm our own selves, our children, our churches, and the whole nation. The path away from this awful degeneration is to again live holy lives in truth. How many will heed the call? Very few.
The priests should guard knowledge of God (verse 7). The people should get their behaviour and doctrine from obedient priests, for they are God’s messengers. When they fail, all fail.
In modern churches each man thinks he knows his Bible. But, evidently he does not, for his beliefs and actions are far from God’s truth! Each thinks he is able to discern how to live, act and believe, but they cannot. They think the pastoral role is managerial, when it is not, leaving them scope to think as they wish. In my ministry I often receive haughty communications from people who obviously have no idea what God’s word really says.
They tell me they have the answers, and that this or that is what the Bible means! Yet, what they say is sinful nonsense. They have no idea how to discern, or how to read and interpret scripture. At times I get angry, but it is a righteous anger, for their ‘interpretations’ are against God and His word. At other times I spend many patient hours trying to instruct them. Some, to their credit and benefit, listen, but most do not, and maintain their own stance, based on sinful ideas. So, they remain in their iniquity.
Do not think that having good intentions alone is acceptable. Pastors and Bible teachers are placed here to instruct and guide fellow believers. The people are to listen to what they say (if what they say is of God). And they are all to obey God after listening, because the person telling them speaks direct from God. Of course, many today are unfaithful and should not be listened to… check what they say against scripture! If they continually speak untruths, do not listen, and do not keep them in your pulpits. If they refuse to be admonished, tell them to leave, because they are not God’s messengers.
Verses 8 - 12
But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.
Unbelieving, unrighteous priests were a danger to the people, because they did not walk the true Path of God. They caused many others to follow them into evil and thereby tainted God’s promises with sin. God does not tolerate this and must act against them. He does the same today. I repeat: the evils we see openly displayed today are the result of Christian laxity and pastoral deviance from God’s word and holiness.
Because the priests (or, today’s pastors) failed, God made sure they remained in their sins, held in contempt by the people, who see them disobeying God and teaching only select pieces of God’s law. This occurs in most churches in most countries, now. That is where denominations come from, illicit groups of Christians who turn a blind eye to other parts of scripture, preferring human talk to God’s commands. Their ineffectiveness is seen in how the nation and leaders regard them – as nothing.
God says they all have the one spiritual father: Himself. So, how can they dirty His word and commands by having so many different beliefs and actions? This is viewed as treachery against the people and a profaning of God’s word.
It is common to think we may all interpret scripture as we wish, and to say scripture is capable of many different interpretations. This is the ‘law of personal preference’ and is not valid in reality. It is hard for Christians to understand that scripture has only ONE meaning. It is not the meaning given by one denomination or one theologian. It is the meaning given in God’s word itself. Each word has a number of possible meanings. But, the meaning that applies in each case is given by the context.
How many Christians understand this fundamental fact? Hardly any! It often causes me frustration and exasperation, when know-it-all Christians rebuke me for this or that interpretation, though I know they get what they say from a variety of theologians and not direct from God’s messengers or from scripture. These critics are ignorant of truth, but rely on their own untaught, preferred versions of scripture, that support their preferred notions. They have no fear.
Thus, the priests, and so the people, have “dealt treacherously” and what they say and do is an abomination to God. Though He loved them, they acted profanely towards Him, thinking they could get away with it. This is why so many intermarried with barred nations, nations that had their own foreign gods. Today, we may use this text to refer not just to marriage with unbelievers, but also to the way Christians mingle well with unbelievers in general and adopt their ways and beliefs.
It is all the same to God and, in the New Testament, comes under ‘idolatry’. We must not marry unbelievers. This particularly applies to unbelievers of nations that have their own gods, such as Islamic (Islam has many ‘inferior’ gods, not just Allah), because their lives are founded from birth on false teachings and a disregard for the One Holy God. It also applies to spiritual things. We may not accept teachings from false churches or sects or denominations. We may not visit mosques, temples, or attend false religions’ meetings. We may not have deep friendships with their adherents. This is God’s law, not my own. It is given to bless us, not to restrict enjoyment, for when we ‘mix’ what is hated by God, we sin and suffer.
If people follow these things - in this text, marrying someone who is godless - they will be “cut off”, karath, be removed from the covenant with God, cut-down, destroyed. The “master and the scholar” will be removed. This means the ‘one wakeful and the one answering’: priest and fellow priest. This is taken from the habit of priests of calling out to other priests in the temple, who then shouted back. God will remove them from the holy places, because their sacrifices are unacceptable. Marrying a foreign idolater was not just heresy, but a form of treason. It was to turn the back on the One Who owns you and to Whom you owe total allegiance.
The New Testament speaks of avoiding marrying someone who is not godly. That is, not saved by grace. This is for two reasons: to help maintain one’s own spiritual state in purity and holiness, without the constant opposition of an unbelieving married partner, and, to avoid offending God. It does not matter if the person who is married is ‘nice’ and you have fallen in love… spiritual truths and obligations come before personal wishes. To ignore the rule of not marrying anyone other than a saved person, is to invite God’s disapproval and, possibly, His wrath and a loss of blessings. When a pastor marries someone who is unsaved, or ignores the rules of marriage, whatever he does as a pastor is ignored by God, and is counted as nothing, without merit.
Verses 13 - 16
And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
The priests dared to ask God why He spoke as He did! Just as modern pastors question God’s motives, though he has plenty of evidence in scripture. God says that He witnessed the Hebrew wife originally taken by the priest in marriage, and has seen the priest divorce her for no good reason. For this the priests were condemned, especially as they then went on to remarry idolaters.
Then, in verse 16 we have a very blunt statement by God – He hates divorce! Those who are priests, He said, cover their sins by hiding behind their priestly office, but it will not work! He warns the priests to remain holy and not to divorce their Hebrew wives. Today, pastors easily divorce. As has already been said, love has nothing to do with it. In God’s eyes, once married, always married…. He hates divorce. The texts dealing with divorce in the New Testament are not ‘rules’ for divorce, but God’s disapproval coupled with an unhappy knowledge that even Christians will sin. It is a concession, not a rule, used to limit the damage done by unfaithful people. And those who partake of the ‘rule’ never again know true peace, as is evidenced in the life of king David.
It is a fact that some divorces are based on complex reasoning and situations, but, most divorces and marriages are clear-cut and show a disregard for God’s commands. These are to be treated as God demands, not as we sinfully wish.
Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?
God tells the priests He is sick and tired of their excuses and questions. They then have the audacity to ask God how they have made Him sick and tired! This is after they make God angry by accepting as ‘good’ what is obviously evil, and enjoying it. And, because they enjoy it and God does not swiftly strike them down, they query whether God exists at all, especially as a Judge of their actions.
This is the state of pastors and churches today. They choose to do what God hates, teaching evil, and think they can get away with it. They cannot fathom that the state of their nations is due to their own sinful disregard for God!
How many times have I heard people say that whilst charismaticism contains a lot of ‘wrong’ things, it is still worth following for the spiritual benefits! This is saying that God accepts sin and blesses us for it! Only Satan can make men think like that, when God’s word is so crystal clear. Those of us who know the truth must not cave-in to such evil. We must maintain truth at all costs, or know the same fate as those evil priests.
© November 2008
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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