In a recent post, I brought up a really confusing and angry scripture passage (Malachi 2:3) that makes God look like he’s irrationally angry. It’s passages like this make people believe that God is arbitrarily violent and intentionally vicious. But I don’t agree with that at all…like ever.
Let’s take a look at why this is happening.
In verse one, Malachi addresses the priests. Since the priests are who God is mad at, part of getting to the heart of this is in understanding what a priest is.
The Priests Were “Set Apart”
God appointed a special class of people to serve the people of Israel on his behalf. To get this done, He gave the job to the tribe of Levi, where Aaron was from. The Levites didn’t have it easy. They had to follow a whole ‘nother set of rules, most of which we find in that party favorite, Leviticus. To work for God is an honor. The Levites had the opportunity to glorify their God and show the Israelites how to live according to God’s instruction for them.
The Priests Were God’s Ambassadors Of Forgiveness
The really nasty part of the job of priest in the ancient world was that they had to perform the sacrifices. Let’s say a man sinned. In order to be forgiven, he had to present a sacrifice to God in order to receive forgiveness. The priest was the one who made the whole thing happen for him. In addition, the priest made the sacrifice for Israel and themselves. They made sure that the whole forgiveness system kept running. Most importantly, their whole existence was regulated by God for God.
The Priests Were The Representation Of God’s Character
Basically, to see a priest at work was to see God at work. The priest was the representative of God in real life. The priest was holy, set apart for a special purpose. They were supposed to be in right relationship with God because their hearts were supposed to be aligned how they lived for him. They were a picture of God. They set the tone for God. Their lives pointed to God. They were the representation of God on the earth.
And something had gone horribly wrong. The priests stopped doing there job because they stopped loving their God. They kept the job and paycheck, but abandoned the reason for doing it.
But now, this command is for you, priests: If you don’t listen, or don’t intend to glorify my name, says the LORD of heavenly forces, then I will send a curse among you. I will curse your blessings, and I mean really curse them, because none of you intend to do it. I am about to denounce your offspring; I will scatter feces on your faces, the feces of your festivals. Then I will lift you up to me, and you will know that I have sent this command to you so that my covenant with Levi can continue to exist, says the LORD of heavenly forces. Malachi 2:1-4
It’s with great sadness that I say that the way God talks about priests here, the world talks about ‘priests’ now.
Smearing poop on their faces? Why is God so mean? In order to understand God’s response, we have to understand what happened within the priesthood. In the next post on this topic, we’ll look at the significance of the poop and why God wasn’t just not being mean, but he was probably being too nice.