Reading through the Bible together
“And now this admonition is for you, O priests. ‘If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor My name,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. . . .’” (Mal. 2:1-2).
Sometimes we get the false idea that people only sacrificed animals to the Lord when they had sinned. But that’s not true. Here were the types of sacrifices offered, the blood and fat were burnt and the rest eaten, except for the offering for atonement which was burnt completely.
Sin Offering: for individual sin.
Fellowship Offering: for praise.
Grain Offering: for dedication and blessing.
Burnt Offering: for atonement.
We see an important principle here. Every area of a worshipper’s life was to be offered to God.
But at the time of Malachi, this total commitment to God was not true for the people or for the priests themselves. The Lord’s admonitions to the priestly leaders of Israel were about as direct as they could be:
“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the refuse from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. . . . The lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the Lord. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble . . . .” (Mal. 2:3, 7, 8).
The apostasy of the Israelite priesthood is one of the saddest developments in the Old Testament. The tribe of Levi—set apart as consecrated vessels in the Lord’s service—was now being represented by men whose hearts had turned from the Lord.
Over the next 400 years, the priesthood would only worsen: the worldly, political Sadducees would make a mockery of the Temple—turning it into a den of thieves (see Matt. 21:12.13).
Andy Nash, Professor
Southern Adventist University