Malachi 2:7

The priest's lips should keel knowledge. The ideal priest is here characterized, not by ceremonial exactitude, but by moral integrity. Sacrificing is not so essential as religious knowledge, sound learning, and wholesome teaching. The proper expectation of God's ministers is that they will tell God's will to the people, not only because they know it, but even more because they keep it. In our religious teachers we look for adequacy of knowledge, and adequacy of experience.

I. ADEQUACY OF KNOWLEDGE. In some countries, and in some ages, the sacred ministry has been the chief source of secular knowledge for the people. That is not the case now, and in civilized countries. But still God's ministers need to be abreast, and to keep abreast, of all that is thought and known in their day, because to them is entrusted the work of conserving the Divine element in all knowledge, and the Divine relation to everything discovered. Unless ministers have adequate knowledge, they occupy a lower plane than the secular teachers, and fail to influence the higher range of students with Divine claims, truths, and principles. To put it in another way - The ministry must be on the level of the people if it is to sympathize with them; but the ministry must be in intelligence and knowledge above the people, if it is to lift the people to higher things, Two points may be illustrated.

1. The ministers should gain knowledge as men can gain it.

2. The ministers should gain knowledge as spiritual men only can gain it. It is that spiritually acquired knowledge that is the minister's true efficiency; and more especially that spiritual knowledge as it relates to the mysteries of the sacred Word.

II. ADEQUACY OF EXPERIENCE. There is book knowledge, and there is experimental knowledge. It may be argued that for the common, everyday relations and duties of life, experience is a more valuable and practical teacher than books can be. It is certainly true that, for the ministry, experience is the essential thing. A man can only speak with power when "he has tasted and handled and felt the good word of life." The people have confidence in the teacher who has been taught of God in the discipline of life. What needs to be pointed out is that these two adequacies are not antagonistic, In their harmonious culture lies the true power. - R.T.

For the priest's lips should keep knowledge.
There exists a broad and general analogy between the priesthood of the Levitical, and the ministry of the evangelical dispensations, an analogy sufficiently distinct and well-defined to enable us to argue from the one to the other in several most important particulars.

I. THE NATURE OF THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS REQUIRED. When we speak of human knowledge we are perplexed by its variety and expansiveness. Where are we to find the precise boundaries of the knowledge which the priest's lips should keep? To a vigorous mind, all nature, and all history, and all philosophy, and every region of thought and imagination will be one vast storehouse of materials for the service of the Lord's temple. But some precise knowledge is here indicated, as specifically belonging to the priest; a professional knowledge, essential to the due discharge of his office. Surely it must be a knowledge of God's truth, revealed in holy scripture: the knowledge of Christian doctrine in all its parts and proportions, as propounded by God to the faith of men for their salvation. This is the nucleus around which all his knowledge is to cluster, the centre to which all his other attainments are to converge. This knowledge has a twofold character. It is intellectual, and it is experimental: it is attained by the ordinary operations of the mind, and by the experience of the heart. The Christian minister must be one who rightly divideth the word of truth; one who has the nice and accurate skill to adjust the several portions of God's truth in their right places and due connections; to build symmetrically as a wise master-builder, and not merely to say what is true, but what is true in its own place and proportion. And this is not a skill which is attained by every one. The priest's knowledge must be experimental; i.e. learned by a feeling sense of the religious wants and cravings of the human heart. A further and higher teaching is required to give the true knowledge of the Gospel; it is an inward feeling of their adaptation to the wants of human nature, and a personal experience of their power upon his own heart. This is the real secret of ministerial strength. There is another branch of know ledge no less essential to the due discharge of the ministerial office — a knowledge of human nature. The hearts and consciences of men are the materials upon which the Christian minister's labour is to be expended. He will study his own heart as the best guide to the knowledge of the hearts of others. The most eminently successful ministers have been most proficient in this knowledge.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. This is evident from the nature of the case. The minister is a messenger: he must be conversant with all things essential to a clue execution of his commission. He is a teacher; and the people are to "seek the law at his mouth": he must therefore be competent to expound it. He is a referee in cases of doubt and difficulty; he must be skilled to deal with every such case which may come before him. He is the depositary of the treasure of the Gospel; he must be able to dispense it with faithfulness. There are, at times, some special reasons why the Christian minister should be "a scribe well-instructed unto the kingdom of heaven." Times which demand, if not a higher tone of piety, at least a higher standard of knowledge. There are some peculiar features in the present circumstances and position of the Church. The Christian ministry must take up a commanding position whence it may direct and control the progress of society.

(W. Nicholson, M. A.)

Even strong and fearless Martin Luther confessed that he often trembled as he entered the pulpit. He could stand before kings and rulers without fear; but the responsibility of dealing with souls, and perhaps settling their destiny forever by his message, was to him so serious that he was wont to speak of "that awful place the pulpit." Have none of us been betrayed into that cold officialism which speaks strongly in the pulpit, and acts coldly out of the pulpit? Have none of us acted the inconsistency of making the pulpit holy ground and all outside common?

(A. J. Gordon, D. D.)

"I remember once riding on a coach," remarked the late C. H. Spurgeon, "when the coachman observed to me he knew a certain minister (I will not say of what church) who, for the last six months, had been in the habit of riding up and down on the box of his coach with him; 'and,' says he, 'he is a good sort of man, sir, a sort of man I like.' 'Well, what sort of a man is he?' I asked. 'Well, you see, sir,' he replied, 'he is a minister: and I like him because he never intrudes his religion, sir. I never heard him say a word, that would make me believe him a religious man, the whole six months he has ridden with me, sir!'" I am afraid there are plenty of Christians of that sort: I am afraid the religion of such is not of much worth. They never intrude their religion; I think the reason it is so unobtrusive, is, that they have not any to intrude; for true godliness is one of the most intrusive things in the world. It is fire; and if you put fire down in your study, and give it most earnest admonition never to burn, you will find, while you are administering your sage advice, that a conflagration has commenced.

Did the conception of the Jewish priesthood given in this verse date from its original institution; was it part of the Mosaic legislation, or does it merely represent the ideal of the priesthood after the captivity? What does the prophet mean by "knowledge," and what by "law"? Is it the ceremonial law only? Or, is the priest enjoined to instruct the Jews of the restoration in the law of moral conduct? An honest view of Scripture history requires us to make the wider and more comprehensive answer to these questions. With the pious Jew there was no divorce between religion and morality. And the Jewish priesthood was not only a sacrificing, it was also a teaching priesthood. Compare the Jewish priesthood with that of ancient Greece. The Greek religion knew nothing of instruction, or of preaching, in connection with temples or festivals. At first sight, Malachi's words appear better suited to describe the prophet than the priest. But in truth, the priesthood, as an ideal, contained in itself the prophetic office as well. It is observable that the existence of organised prophetical schools in Israel appears just at those periods when the priesthood had ceased to be a witness to the truth. It was thus in the days of Samuel. The dearest desire of Samuel's heart was to win Israel back to God, and teach them true worship as well as true morality. When David is on the throne, national order is restored, the worship of God has a permanent centre, and the law of God — moral and ceremonial — is authoritatively set forth and enforced, then the prophetical schools fall into the background, or even cease, and the prophetic office itself becomes an occasional and extraordinary channel of God's grace. Later on, when religion and morality were in danger of extinction, under Elijah and Elisha the prophetical schools gained their moral and religious importance. But neither then did they imply any opposition to the ceremonial law. The true priest and the true prophet are at one. A right view of the Jewish priesthood is of importance toward a just estimate of the Christian ministry. You destroy the moral grandeur of the Jewish priest if you obliterate his prophetical function: and you miss the Divine ideal of the Christian ministry, if you see in it only a school of prophets, and forget that it is a teaching priesthood, with a fixed succession and a covenanted grace. None can deny the fact, that the Christian ministry has, to a very high degree, remembered and fulfilled its mission as a teaching priesthood, as a witness for the righteousness of God. But while we admire the powerful moral influence of the English clergy upon English morality, yet the very nature of this success helps to throw into stronger relief what appear to be its shortcomings. It may be seriously questioned whether the teaching of the Christian ministry has not tended to be too partial in its bearing upon Christian morals. The relation of the individual soul to God, the duty of man to himself and to his Maker, — these have naturally formed the principal theme of pulpit exhortation. But in that large field of duty which has regard to our fellow-men, it can hardly be said that the teaching, of divines has been equally forcible and instructive. It may be feared that the Sunday sermon often gives little practical guidance for the toiling millions around us. The Sunday teaching must not be an alien from the duties of the week, nor leave out three parts of life. The type of character the Church tends to form is the foundation for the highest virtues and widest usefulness. It aims at making a man more devout towards God, mindful of the unseen and spiritual, self-controlled and master of the passions, true and tender in his home, forgiving to his enemy, generous to the sick and poor. These virtues are never out of date. Our religion as set forth in our Divine Exemplar, or in the teachings of His apostles, shows no one-sidedness. The New Testament sets the relative duties as high as the personal. Religion is there made to consist very largely in justice and benevolence. The principles of Christian conduct remain the same; but their application varies — love of God, self-denial, love of neighbour; and these based upon the doctrines of the cross; exemplified by the life of Christ; lit up with the hope of glory. Let me indicate some of the questions which demand the religious treatment of the Christian teacher.

1. The subject of amusements.

2. The ethics of dress.

3. Relation to the fine arts, painting, sculpture, music, the drama. Or —

4. The laws concerning marriage and divorce.

5. Or consider the painful questions which arise out of the intensified vices of modern society; drunkenness, prostitution, bribery, commercial fraud.I do not fear that the Church will lose in spirituality or humility, by addressing herself to problems like these.

(E. L. Hicks.)

Jacob, Levi, Malachi
Almighty, Armies, Guard, Hosts, Instruction, Law, Lips, Messenger, Mouth, Ought, Preserve, Priest, Priest's, Seek, Servant, Waiting
1. He sharply reproves the priests for neglecting their covenant;
10. and the people for marrying strange wives;
13. and for putting away their former ones,
17. and for infidelity.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Malachi 2:7

     5408   messenger
     5433   occupations
     7734   leaders, spiritual

Malachi 2:4-7

     7793   teachers

Malachi 2:6-7

     1155   God, truthfulness
     5164   lips
     5549   speech, positive
     8130   guidance, from godly people

Malachi 2:7-8

     8749   false teachers
     8840   unfaithfulness, to God

Malachi 2:7-9

     5973   unreliability

Malachi 2:7-10

     8807   profanity

The Covenant of an Everlasting Priesthood
"That My covenant might be with Levi. 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. 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. ii. 4-6. ISRAEL was meant by God to be a nation of priests. In the first making of the Covenant this was distinctly stipulated. "If ye will obey My voice, and keep My covenant,
Andrew Murray—The Two Covenants

Whether a Believer Can Marry an Unbeliever?
Objection 1: It would seem that a believer can marry an unbeliever. For Joseph married an Egyptian woman, and Esther married Assuerus: and in both marriages there was disparity of worship, since one was an unbeliever and the other a believer. Therefore disparity of worship previous to marriage is not an impediment thereto. Objection 2: Further, the Old Law teaches the same faith as the New. But according to the Old Law there could be marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, as evidenced by
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it was Lawful to Divorce a Wife under the Mosaic Law?
Objection 1: It would seem that it was lawful to divorce a wife under the Mosaic law. For one way of giving consent is to refrain from prohibiting when one can prohibit. It is also unlawful to consent to what is unlawful. Since then the Mosaic law did not forbid the putting away of a wife and did no wrong by not forbidding it, for "the law . . . is holy" (Rom. 7:12), it would seem that divorce was at one time lawful. Objection 2: Further, the prophets spoke inspired by the Holy Ghost, according to
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Reason for Divorce was Hatred for the Wife?
Objection 1: It would seem that the reason for divorce was hatred for the wife. For it is written (Malachi 2:16): "When thou shalt hate her put her away." Therefore, etc. Objection 2: Further, it is written (Dt. 24:1): "If . . . she find not favor in his eyes, for some uncleanness," etc. Therefore the same conclusion follows as before. Objection 3: On the contrary, Barrenness and fornication are more opposed to marriage than hatred. Therefore they ought to have been reasons for divorce rather than
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether a Wicked Priest Can Consecrate the Eucharist?
Objection 1: It seems that a wicked priest cannot consecrate the Eucharist. For Jerome, commenting on Sophon. iii, 4, says: "The priests who perform the Eucharist, and who distribute our Lord's blood to the people, act wickedly against Christ's law, in deeming that the Eucharist is consecrated by a prayer rather than by a good life; and that only the solemn prayer is requisite, and not the priest's merits: of whom it is said: 'Let not the priest, in whatever defilement he may be, approach to offer
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Precepts Referring to Knowledge and Understanding were Fittingly Set Down in the Old Law?
Objection 1: It would seem that the precepts referring to knowledge and understanding were unfittingly set down in the Old Law. For knowledge and understanding pertain to cognition. Now cognition precedes and directs action. Therefore the precepts referring to knowledge and understanding should precede the precepts of the Law referring to action. Since, then, the first precepts of the Law are those of the decalogue, it seems that precepts of knowledge and understanding should have been given a place
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it is Fitting that Christ Should be a Priest?
Objection 1: It would seem unfitting that Christ should be a priest. For a priest is less than an angel; whence it is written (Zech. 3:1): "The Lord showed me the high-priest standing before the angel of the Lord." But Christ is greater than the angels, according to Heb. 1:4: "Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they." Therefore it is unfitting that Christ should be a priest. Objection 2: Further, things which were in the Old Testament were figures
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Knowledge of all Holy Writ is Required?
Objection 1: It would seem that knowledge of all Holy Writ is required. For one from whose lips we seek the law, should have knowledge of the law. Now the laity seek the law at the mouth of the priest (Malachi 2:7). Therefore he should have knowledge of the whole law. Objection 2: Further, "being always ready to satisfy everyone that asketh you a reason of that faith and hope in you [*Vulg.: 'Of that hope which is in you; St. Thomas apparently took his reading from Bede]." Now to give a reason for
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

A Dialogue with God
'The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this ... out of the tents of Jacob, ... 14. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth.'--MALACHI ii. 12, 14 (R.V.). It is obvious from the whole context that divorce and foreign inter-marriage were becoming increasingly prevalent in Malachi's time. The conditions in these respects were nearly similar to that prevailing in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is these sins which the Prophet is here vehemently
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Of Orders.
Of this sacrament the Church of Christ knows nothing; it was invented by the church of the Pope. It not only has no promise of grace, anywhere declared, but not a word is said about it in the whole of the New Testament. Now it is ridiculous to set up as a sacrament of God that which can nowhere be proved to have been instituted by God. Not that I consider that a rite practised for so many ages is to be condemned; but I would not have human inventions established in sacred things, nor should it be
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

The Development of the Earlier Old Testament Laws
[Sidenote: First the principle, and then the detailed laws] If the canon of the New Testament had remained open as long as did that of the Old, there is little doubt that it also would have contained many laws, legal precedents, and ecclesiastical histories. From the writings of the Church Fathers and the records of the Catholic Church it is possible to conjecture what these in general would have been. The early history of Christianity illustrates the universal fact that the broad principles are
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

The Secret Walk with God (ii).
He that would to others give Let him take from Jesus still; They who deepest in Him live Flow furthest at His will. I resume the rich subject of Secret Devotion, Secret Communion with God. Not that I wish to enter in detail on either the theory or the practice of prayer in secret; as I have attempted to do already in a little book which I may venture here to mention, Secret Prayer. My aim at present, as I talk to my younger Brethren in the Ministry, is far rather to lay all possible stress on
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren

Lessons for Worship and for Work
'Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few. 3. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. 4. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Apostolic Traditions Generally in Abeyance.
1. Washing of feet. St. John xiii. 4-14. 2. Anointing of sick with prayer for healing. St. James v. 14, 15. 3. Anointing with Oil and Muron in Baptism. 4. Anointing with Muron for Consecration. 5. Trine immersion in Baptism. 6. Incense offered to God's Holy Name. Malachi ii. 11.
Dionysius—Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

The Cities of the Levites.
Concerning them, see Numbers, chapter 35, and Joshua chapter 21. "The suburbs of the cities of the Levites were three thousand cubits on every side; viz. from the walls of the city, and outwards; as it is said, 'From the walls of the city and outwards a thousand cubits: and thou shalt measure from without the city two thousand cubits' (Num 35:4,5). The former thousand were the suburbs, and the latter two thousand were for fields and vineyards. They appointed the place of burial to every one of those
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Fourth Commandment
Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it. Exod 20: 8-11. This
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Thirtieth Lesson. An Holy Priesthood;'
An holy priesthood;' Or, The Ministry of Intercession. An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.'--I Peter ii. 5. Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord.'--Isaiah lxi. 6. THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me.' These are the words of Jesus in Isaiah. As the fruit of His work all redeemed ones are priests, fellow-partakers with Him of His anointing with the Spirit as High Priest. Like the precious ointment upon
Andrew Murray—With Christ in the School of Prayer

The Writings of Israel's Philosophers
[Sidenote: Discussions the problem of evil] An intense interest in man led certain of Israel's sages in time to devote their attention to more general philosophical problems, such as the moral order of the universe. In the earlier proverbs, prophetic histories, and laws, the doctrine that sin was always punished by suffering or misfortune, and conversely that calamity and misfortune were sure evidence of the guilt of the one affected, had been reiterated until it had become a dogma. In nine out
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Pastor in Parish (ii. ).
Work on in hope; the plough, the sickle wield; Thy Master is the harvest's Master too; He gives the golden seed, He owns the field, And does Himself what His true servants do. I take up again the all-important subject of Pastoral Visitation, for the same sort of informal and fragmentary treatment as that attempted in the last chapter, and with the same feeling that the subject is practically inexhaustible. LET THE VISITOR BE A TEACHER, WATCHING FOR OPPORTUNITIES. One object which the visitor will
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren

Mothers, Daughters, and Wives in Israel
In order accurately to understand the position of woman in Israel, it is only necessary carefully to peruse the New Testament. The picture of social life there presented gives a full view of the place which she held in private and in public life. Here we do not find that separation, so common among Orientals at all times, but a woman mingles freely with others both at home and abroad. So far from suffering under social inferiority, she takes influential and often leading part in all movements, specially
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Father and the Son. ...
The Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and the Son. Under this heading we began by considering Justin's remarkable words, in which he declares that "we worship and adore the Father, and the Son who came from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels that attend Him and are made like unto Him, and the prophetic Spirit." Hardly less remarkable, though in a very different way, is the following passage from the Demonstration (c. 10); and it has a special interest from the
Irenæus—The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching

The Fifth Commandment
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.' Exod 20: 12. Having done with the first table, I am next to speak of the duties of the second table. The commandments may be likened to Jacob's ladder: the first table respects God, and is the top of the ladder that reaches to heaven; the second respects superiors and inferiors, and is the foot of the ladder that rests on the earth. By the first table, we walk religiously towards God; by
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

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