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Malachi 2: Helping Not Hindering

Malachi 2 is a message from God through Malachi to the priests of Israel. They quite frankly were not doing their job, and even though the tribe of Levi was supposed to be the priestly tribe, they had gone away from God.

Mal 2:4  And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

Mal 2:5  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.

Mal 2:6  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.

Mal 2:7  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.

Mal 2:8  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.

I find a few things to talk about here. When God made a covenant with Levi, it was a good thing for everyone involved. God promised him life and peace in return for honor. It sounds quite a bit like how people in general ought to relate to God. God will take care of us if we are living our lives in the right way.

What made the priests different was that they were supposed to be the keepers of the Law. They were supposed to be the ones to teach the rest of the people how to follow God. They were supposed to be able to not only live their lives in a Godly way, but their job was also to help point people towards that lifestyle. In verse six, we notice that Levi did that. Many did turn away from iniquity because of the teaching of Levi.

The problem was of course that now they were causing many people to stumble over the law. They were not helping people follow it, but they were actually encouraging violation. Not surprisingly, God was not thrilled about that.

I was thinking about the priests here, and I was also thinking about a kind of parallel although I admit it is not perfect. In the world today, we are supposed to do what the priests did at least in the first regard. We’re supposed to live our lives in the way that God wants us to. We are also supposed to help people find God. We are not necessarily the keepers of the Law in the sense that the priests were, but the obligation is similar. We’re supposed to be helping people rather than causing them to stumble. We should not be encouraging sin.

I suppose that’s a twofold challenge. First, we need to live like God wants us to, and we then need to help other people around us.

Psalms 29: What Can the Voice of God Do?

Psalms 29 is entirely devoted to describing the voice of God. We begin with a command to value and honor God, and the rationale for following that command is shown to be the power of the voice of God.

Psa 29:3  The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.

Psa 29:4  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

Most of the rest of the chapter goes on like this and explains all of the things that the voice of God can do. However, in these verses that I gave to you, there is nothing really surprising. These are all things that voices can do. They can travel around because they are sound waves. They can even travel over water and could be heard over many waters if they were loud enough.

I want to contrast that with the next few verses.

Psa 29:5  The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

Psa 29:6  He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

Psa 29:7  The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

Psa 29:8  The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

I want to point out that now we are talking about things that voices don’t normally do. No matter how loud or powerful your voice is you are not going to be shooting out fire. You won’t be able to snap a tree either. That is the contrast.

I think that is what we are ultimately trying to get at here. There is a difference between what God can do and what we can do. To use the parallel he is making here, we can make our voices powerful and loud, but we can’t cause earthquakes simply through our words.

Remember that God is an incredibly powerful being. He does have power that we don’t have, and if His voice is powerful enough to even call the entire universe from a state of nothingness, it is something very special. I think that is a lot of what this Psalm is getting at.

2 Chronicles 29: Cleaning up the Temple

Some people like to make excuses. They would rather blame the circumstances that they are put in a rather than step up and make them better.

In 2 Chronicles 29, it is a good thing that Hezekiah was not like that. He inherited Judah in a pretty sad state after the mess that Ahaz made. Nevertheless, he immediately got around to taking steps in the right direction.

2Ch 29:5  and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.

2Ch 29:6  For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They have forsaken him and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD and turned their backs.

It is kind of sad that the people of Judah allowed such a beautiful building that served such an important purpose to fall into utter disrepair. We find out later that it took all of the priests that were there 16 days to entirely clean everything out.

That is a pretty major job, but it is one that Hezekiah wanted to be done.

He could have simply folded up and not done anything. The generation before that made such a mess that maybe trying to clean up and make everything better could have taken too much effort. The status quo would have certainly been easier.

Regardless, he knew that that was not a good response. He knew that the house of God needed to be a place that would indeed honor God. Not only that, but he was happy about the end result.

2Ch 29:36  And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.

He knew that God was with them and was helping them. It seems like that made all of the effort worthwhile.

2 Samuel 6: Does God Prefer a Certain Style of Music?

Let me take on a slightly more fun topic today. In 2 Samuel 6, we hear about a procession that was accompanying the Ark of the Covenant.

2Sa 6:5  And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

There was apparently a pretty wild party going on. People were excited, and they were playing all kinds of music.

This obviously begs the question as to what type of music we should use for worship. Surprisingly, this is a huge deal for many people. It is possible that all of these differences are stylistic, but there are some people who claim that only certain types of music should be allowed an acceptable forms of Christian worship.

Personally, you can tell from the videos I post that I do not have a problem with any style of music, but I do think that there are certain criteria that we need to use for all types of music.

First, whatever we listen to should be God-honoring. It needs to be primarily focused on worshiping and praising God. This would actually be consistent with the absolute last verse in the final Psalm, Psalm 150.

Psa 150:6  Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

The implication of this verse is that all living things need to praise God in all ways, but even though the rest of the chapter list of ways in which people might praise God, there is no claim in any of this that it is an exhaustive list. Whatever we do should be an act of worship. In other words, going to work, hanging out with friends or even disagreeing with someone needs to be God-honoring.

That should be the first and most important criteria for this debate. If the music does indeed honor God, I do not see a problem here. The musical notes themselves and the instruments are morally neutral. They do not do anything without us using them. Therefore, if our music is used for the right reason and delivers the right message, there should not be very much of a problem.

Some people have made the argument that listening to certain styles of music is getting too close to the world. For example, rock music has a rather un-Christian history, so for these people, we are violating Romans 12:2.

Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

They would argue that we are conforming to become too much like the world and need to make sure that we are different. After all, we are certainly called to stand out and make people wonder what is so special about us (nothing outside of God, we are still sinners saved by grace).

For people who believe this, I guess I only have one response. If you listen to three minutes of Christian rap for example, you’ll immediately notice something different about this song. I would again contend that the notes and instruments are morally neutral. When Christian artists use them, they are pointing people towards God and praising Him. That will make them so different than the mainstream that that fear should be forgotten rather easily.

Naturally, we all have different musical tastes. We all certainly have the right to prefer certain types of music over other types. However, I do not feel like you can make a conclusive case to say that God prefers a certain type of praise. If your heart is in the right place and you’re worshiping Him, I think you can be playing the electric guitar or the organ.

Numbers 29: Live the Life

I think that I have written similar post to what I am going to write today, but I think that this is another valuable lesson for all of us.

Num 29:39  These things ye shall do unto the LORD in your set feasts, beside your vows, and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your meat offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.

Num 29:40  And Moses told the children of Israel according to all that the LORD commanded Moses.

In Numbers 29, we are again given the situation where freewill offerings are expected above and beyond going through the set rituals and feasts.

I think that this is important for us to move this forward to today. Even though we are not saved by works, Christianity is about more than just showing up at church on Sunday and going home. It is more than just a list of rules.

It is a lifestyle, and we need to offer our previous lifestyle as a sacrifice.

It is a freewill offering in our case because we can live in rebellion if we want to. Many people choose to do that.

We need to live our lives every day in a way that hopefully brings honor to God. As we have talked about before, that is our purpose here on earth, but it is also the logical conclusion of following what the Bible says. If we do everything it says, or at least try our best since we will always be imperfect, we can help lead people towards God.

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.