Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel (Part X)

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.” (Malachi 2:5-6)

The covenant that God made with Levi was one of salvation. Life and peace characterize the spiritually minded (Romans 8:6). The tribe of Levi manifested a redeemed life through their God-fearing actions. The first two words for fear are the same. The third is slightly different. Its basic meaning is to be broken. Numerous times it is translated this way. The resultant meanings include the idea of being in a panic. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly which event the Lord had in mind; however, Scripture lists three accounts in which the tribe of Levi was zealous for God's holiness. Exodus 32:26-29 describes the Levites' actions when Moses rebuked Israel for their idolatry, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.” The second account concerns Phinehas and his zeal in destroying an Israelite leader and his partner for their lasciviousness, “And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel (Numbers 25:7-8).” As a result of Phinehas' actions, the Lord said, “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel (Numbers 25:11-13).” In both of these instances, a proper view of God moved these men to righteous indignation and a healthy fear of God's divine retribution. The last instance, though less well known, is that of the sons of Zadok the priest. When the Lord reestablishes the temple in the Millennial Kingdom, these descendants of Zadok will be given a special place of service for their expressed zeal, “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD..(Ezekiel 44:15)..It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray (Ezekiel 48:11).” Zadok was the priest under king David and his son Solomon; therefore, this act of righteousness on the part of his sons must have occurred at some point during the reign of the kings when spiritual degradation was commonplace. Such dedication to God's holiness is indicative of true salvation; thus, God reminded the unregenerate priests of Malachi's day that they were in need of repentance and true conversion. Unless they should follow in the footsteps of their God-fearing ancestors, they could not hope to attain unto life and peace.

The presence of God's law in the mouth of Levi left no room for iniquity. What a beautiful picture of an Old Testament priest who truly knew the Lord as his Redeemer! As a result of Levi's repentance and faith, he walked with God in peace and equity. The word equity means uprightness or a level place. A consistently crooked path is not indicative of a redeemed soul. These unregenerate priests were continuously walking in the crooked path of their sin. The result of Levi's true conversion and walk with God was that he “...did turn many away from iniquity.” The true child of God has countless opportunities to turn “...the sinner from the error of his way....” ,and in so doing, he “...shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (James 5:20).”

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