The House of Levi, the Priests, Reproved for Their Contempt of the LORD’s House
Malachi 1:6-2:17 continued
The Logic of Jehovah of Hosts
We duo well, as we undertake to understand this passage of the burden of the LORD, to take notice here of the logic He employs in His reproval of the priests, and, in them, of the apostate house of Jacob-Israel.
The fundamental and basic presupposition is that the LORD has laid down and established the ordinances for Israel in placing them in their special relationship to them, choosing them as a people from all the others, according to the word to Abraham, “In Isaac shall the Seed be called.” In the Seed we shall see the manifestation of the fulfillment of the just demand of the Law and of the Covenant words. The LORD has sanctioned this forever; His way is in the holy place, where blood must be sprinkled upon the mercy-seat; righteousness and truth shall kiss each other.
The LORD takes His starting-point in this reproof of Israel in His own Word; He cites the fundamental principle of the fifth commandment in verse 6, where we read: “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. . .” There is a very intimate and vital connection between this matter of the fifth commandment of the Decalogue and the fact that Jacob-Israel is separated from Edom, the border of iniquity. For in Israel is the word fulfilled, the first commandment with a promise. (Eph. 6:1-4.) Here is the land of the sons who are free, who are obedient and who will live long in the land which the LORD their God will give them. This commandment has the eternal sanction of the LORD of Hosts, who dwelleth between the cherubim!
Starting from this sure and steadfast covenantal promise and reasonable (logical! ) service (Rom. 12:1, 2), the LORD insists on Israel not conforming to the ways of this world, to Edom, but to be renewed in the spirit of their minds, and prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God! Here is a fine and pure way of reasoning on the part of the LORD.
We would point out at this point that the reasoning of the LORD is not like that of the philosophers, who reason from the general to the particular, by a form of syllogism; nor is this a reasoning from the cause to the effect, as we have on the part of Paul in I Corinthians 15, where Paul argues and testifies that if Christ is not risen, there is no resurrection from the dead. Furthermore, we do not have the reasoning here either from the greater to the lesser, as Paul argues in Rom. 5:6-10, and elsewhere often. The Lord here argues His case from the lesser relationship to the greater, or, if yen will, from the established truth as expressed in the second table of the law to the higher and more fundamental truth as this is expressed in the first table of the law. He reasons from the type to the Archetype!! Thus we have an example in I John 4:20; which read.
We ought to notice the following particulars.
The LORD speaks of the relationship of a son to his father. In this relationship he is to honor him, that is, he is to account him as the viceroy of God over him, knowing that he cannot love and honor God unless he honor his father and his mother. And the same holds for the relationship of a servant (slave) to his master. The former cannot obey the LORD except he obey his master. This is the clear teaching of the Scriptures. I Tim. 6:1-5, I Peter 2:13 ff.
The analogy here is not simply one of illustration but it is one which is of such a nature that the illustration rests upon the very point that is illustrated. Christ states this very succinctly when, speaking of the great Commandment, he says that the “second is like unto it.” Matthew 22:39.
Such is the logic of the LORD here in verse 6.
Reprobate Israel Confronted with Their Desecration of the LORD’s Temple
When the LORD of Hosts here speaks concerning the attitude of the wicked priests toward His temple, reference is had toward the holy place itself, the dwelling-place of God with His people. Sometimes the Bible speaks of the temple and has reference to the entire building, the entire edifice, called in Greek thehieron. See Matthew 4:5; Matt. 12:5, 6; Matt. 21:12-15 etc. But the Scriptures also speak of the dwelling-place of God, the inner sanctuary. This is called in the New Testament in Greek naos. Thus we read in such Scripture passages as Matthew 23:16, 17, 21, 35, etc. This latter is really the pattern of the heavenly things. It refers to the holy of holies, the holy place, and the outer court, with their furniture, their sacrifices, their priests, and the temple ordinances. These all are called in Hebrews 8 the picture of the heavenly according to the pattern which was shown to Moses on the Mount. Hebrews 8:5; Exodus 25:40;Numbers 8:4.
It is well to keep this in mind.
The LORD of Hosts dwells in this temple. It is His lovely tabernacle. Here He spells out the Gospel-story of His redemptive love, of His eternal Covenant. And this entire love-story is corrupted beyond recognition by these reprobate priests. They count the blood of the Covenant and all that sanctifies an unholy thing. They are of a reprobate mind, and are unprofitable to any good work.
Two matters are singled out here in this prophecy. It is the table of the presence of God, also called the table of shew-bread, and the altar of God. We believe that these are representative. The first was a picture of the Lord dwelling with his people and feeding them with the bread of life; and the latter is symbolic of the perfect sacrifice to the LORD, the altar of dedication. This altar really was twofold, the great altar in the forecourt, and the altar of incense in the holy place, which ideally in Hebrews, 9 is placed within the veil, in the holy of holies. Hebrews 9:1-7.
Concerning each of these two pieces of temple-furniture and their meaning we must say just a few things.
The table of the LORD is called in the Old Testament the “bread of the presence.” We find a description of the dimensions of this table in Exodus 25:23-30. The description of the bread which was to be set before the LORD we find in Leviticus 24:5-9, where we read:
“And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table of the LORD. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be a bread for a memorial, even an offering made by a fire unto the LORD. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting Covenant. And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place; for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.”
We notice the following concerning this shew-bread:
1. That it partakes of the nature of a sacrifice, a thank offering. It is to be used in thankfulness for the Lord’s mercies. It is not a bloody sin offering, but the bread points toward the finished salvation.
2. That there were twelve loaves of bread. One for each tribe. It reminds one of the bread which Christ broke and blessed at the sea of Galilee, and from which they gathered, when all had eaten and were filled, twelve full baskets; John 6.
3. These loaves were to be eaten by the priests upon the Sabbath and were to be replaced by new and. fresh loaves on each Sabbath. It referred to the eating at the marriage feast, in the future in the ages to come, when the tabernacle of God would be with man.
4. Still they proclaimed that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, as we see in the fact that David ate from this shew-bread when he fled before the face of Saul. I Sam. 21.
When the significance is obliterated by other bread, then the table of the LORD is desecrated, polluted, despised. Christ is not wanted as the true bread from heaven as He is portrayed in these types and shadows.
Besides this, attention is called to the desecration of the altar upon which pure and perfect sacrifices must be offered. Upon this altar must be laid the sacrifice without spot or blemish. And when this is not done, and the things of God’s house are made common, as did the sons of Eli in the tabernacle at Shiloh, then the Lord’s house is despised.
Now the LORD actually confronts these evil priests with the evidence of their reprobate ways. What do they perpetrate which is so evil? They do this in two ways. In the first place, they do this ceremonially. As far as the table is concerned they place “polluted” bread upon the table? Verse 7. And as for the altar they offer that which is “torn, lame, and sick.” Verse 13. And since this is a part for the whole, the entire holy place is desecrated, polluted, and defiled by them. In the second place, they do this in their spiritually evil attitude toward God, which shows itself in their evil and defiant speech. They talk back to the LORD. It is whatHebrews 12:2 calls “such contradiction of sinners against himself.”
The LORD does not have pleasure in such.
The ULTIMATUM of the LORD of Hosts Against Them. Verses 10-14
The LORD reminds these that He is a great King. Vs. 14. The LORD’s greatness was exhibited in His judgments upon the nations. Think of His greatness over Pharaoh, in whom He showed his great power and might in the ten great plagues. Thus He has done with all the nations,—Babylon, Philistia, Edom, Moab and the seven nations which he slew that Israel might have an inheritance.
This should give reason to pause and reflect,—and repent!
Now the LORD tells them in no uncertain terms, as did Isaiah in the first Chapter of that prophecy, that He is weary of their sacrifices. Isa. 1:9, 10. Sodom and Gomorrah stand as mute witness at the beginning of the post-diluvian era as a loud testimony, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament Scriptures. See Gen. 19:4; Deut. 29:23; Jer. 23:14; Lam. 4:6; Amos 4:11; Matt. 10:15;Rom. 9:29; II Peter 2:6; Rev. 11:8. The LORD is great among the nations. Let then the priests and reprobate Israel tremble, and let the godly fear and take courage.
For the LORD will close the temple. He will cause this house to be desolate. This Jerusalem that kills the prophets and pollutes the temple shall be removed forever. The LORD will make a finished work upon the earth. Except the LORD had kept to himself a remnant according to election, all would have become like unto Sodom and Gomorrah!
But Jacob have I loved, and in the remnant according to election he shall do valiantly. The LORD’s name shall be great among the Gentiles!
(to be continued)