Mouth of the Priest (Malachi 2:7)

For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 2:7

I often find myself reflecting on the fact that believers are called to be a priesthood. Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5 …) and believers the priesthood that serves under His headship (1 Peter 2:5, 9). This being so, it behooves me, as a believer, to look at the things said to the priests of the old covenant — particularly at the statements meant to discipline them and put them back on the correct path.

This morning’s verse is one such. There are three major components to this statement: preserve knowledge, deliver instruction, be a messenger.

The lips of a priest should preserve knowledge. So, too, should the lips of every believer. This is not to say that we will be knowledgeable in each and every discipline. No one but God is capable of such knowledge. However, the word translated knowledge can also mean discernment, understanding, wisdom, perception, or skill. Believers should be a discerning group of people, recognizing the correct course of action. Believers should be understanding, knowing that we are all only dust and prone to all manner of weakness. Believers should be wise, capable to reaching back into the trove contained in God’s Word and bringing out a verse that applies to any given situation. Believers should be perceptive, seeing past the smokescreens and mirrors that people so often put up to hide what they are really about. None of this is possible without the Holy Spirit living within us and doing these things through us. In short, the Holy Spirit must have control of my mouth.

Men should seek instruction from his mouth. The word rendered instruction can also mean Law and  direction. The believer has direct access to God the Father through Jesus Christ. The believer further has insight into how to understand the Word of God by the insights provided by the Holy Spirit. People should come to us to go to God on their behalf until such time as they choose to go to God on their own. Jesus, according to one NT writer, ever lives to make intercession for us. So, too, should the believer intercede for those who have no relationship of their own with God. Not long ago, someone (who shall remain anonymous) asked me to pray about something. I have done so and God has been faithful to answer this individual in sometimes unexpected ways. This is what should be happening. People — believer and non-believer alike — should be able to come to any believer and ask them to go to God on their behalf. God should be able to instruct others through me.

He is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. Is this how the believer is seen? I can say, with some degree of certainty, that the American media and social media in general do not portray the believer as such. We are most often cast as bigoted, judgmental, narrow people. While the narrowness is potentially an acceptable way of seeing us — narrow is the way that leads to life, after all — we should not be seen as judgmental or bigoted. I cannot help how others twist my actions and words, but I can be careful of both and work to surrender myself wholly to God. Whether it is just or not, the unbelieving world will judge God based on His followers. I am well aware of the hypocrisy of it. Most teachers are judged based on their teachings — reference Buddha or the Dalai Lama or even Mohammed — whereas Christ is judged by His followers. For good or ill, believers are going to be seen as the messengers of God. Are my life and words and conduct such that I present God as He is?

To be the messenger that I ought to be, I must deliver God’s Word in God’s way. This means a heart and mind and mouth surrendered to God and available for the Holy Spirit to use. I have not arrived and I feel that it is well past time I surrendered, but there will always be more to surrender this side of Heaven. Let me surrender more fully today and still more tomorrow. Let me become the messenger that God deserves.

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