Reviving God’s Covenant with Levi: Reflections on Malachi 2:1-9 -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:3 (Summer 1995)
Article: Reviving God’s Covenant with Levi: Reflections on Malachi 2:1-9
Author: Daniel I. Block

Reviving God’s Covenant with Levi: Reflections on Malachi 2:1-9 1

Daniel I. Block

Last fall I worked my way through the Old Testament prophets. As I have been studying this fascinating material I have kept asking myself: If any of these prophets were to reappear and begin preaching to the Christians of America, whose message would be the most fitting for us? I am sure we would be inspired by the lofty theology of Isaiah, and sympathize with the weeping prophet Jeremiah. We would probably be turned off by the strange antics of Ezekiel, and throw Amos out for touching too many nerves, especially of the middle and upper class. We would send Jonah back to Joppa because his message is too judgmental. Hosea’s preaching has lost its edge because his marriage to a prostitute is now viewed as an alternative family life style. As I have been reading I have become increasingly convinced that the Israelite preacher evangelical Christians of this country most need to hear is Malachi. Not that we would accept his message. It is hard-hitting and sharp. There is no pulling the punches here, no tickling ears, no catering to people whose primary reason for coming to church is to be stroked, who want to feel good about themselves as they leave the service.

Malachi appears on the scene when people were more orthodox in their creeds than in their living; when the flame of spiritual vitality was flickering, in grave danger of going out. He preaches to the community of returned exiles, one hundred years after Cyrus had issued the decree permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem from Babylon. But this time the enthusiasm in worship and faith in God that had accompanied the rededication of the new temple had given way to despondency, religious cynicism, and even contempt for the Lord. Exactly why this happened we may only speculate. Perhaps the people had become bitter because the Lord was not breaking into their historical situation to bring deliverance from Persian rule, which had become increasingly oppressive

under Darius. Perhaps it was just a natural development. These were third generation believers who could parrot their theological creeds, but whose love for the Lord had been replaced by coldness, indifference and perhaps even bitterness.

Whatever the cause of the malaise, Malachi’s aim was two-fold. First, he attempted to expose the symptoms of spiritual indifference: irreverence in worship (1:6–14), lack of concern for God’s Word (2:1–9), unfaithfulness in marriage relationships (2:10–16<...

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