IV. Taking Covenants Seriously (Malachi 2:1-9)


IV. Taking Covenants Seriously (2:1-9)

The first half of Malachi 2 is dominated by the word covenant. Few biblical words are more significant. The National Football League is approximately a nine-billion-dollar a year business. That’s a lot of people, jobs, media, and logistics linked to a pigskin, the centerpiece of the game. Without the football, in fact, there is no game. And, without the game, the entire system is irrelevant and collapses. Covenant is a word often neglected and misunderstood, but it, too, is a centerpiece. Your relationship to God’s covenant will govern everything else in your life.

2:1-9 God established many covenants in the Bible, such as the covenant with Noah (Gen 9:1-17), the covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-21), the covenant with Moses (Exod 19-34), the covenant with David (2 Sam 7), and the new covenant through Christ (Luke 22:20; Heb 8). In Malachi 2, God speaks of his covenant with Levi (2:4)—that is, the covenant made with the descendants of Levi who were to perform priestly duties and to care for the tabernacle/temple under the umbrella of the Mosaic covenant that governed the sacrificial system.

A covenant is no mere contract. It’s a spiritually binding, relational agreement between God and his people. Covenants are the means by which God administers and governs his kingdom. A divine covenant provides covering. It’s like a divine umbrella. There is protection and provision under it. Through covenants, God works out his kingdom agenda for the benefit of his people. The covenant of Levi was one of life and peace (2:5).

But, though covenants were intended to bring blessing, they also included sanctions if the responsibilities and guidelines of the covenant were not followed. Malachi delivers a warning from the Lord to the priests who were failing to honor [his] name (2:1-2). He declares, I will send a curse among you because they did not take it to heart (2:2). They ought to have revered the Lord, walked with him in peace and fairness, turned many from sin, and instructed the people (2:5-7). Instead, they had turned from the way and caused many to stumble by [their] instruction. Put simply, they had violated the covenant of Levi (2:8). In response, the Lord despised and humiliated them (2:9). The flow of covenantal blessings was hindered, and the hammer of covenantal sanctions was falling.

Under the new covenant, we have a better and eternal high priest. The author of Hebrews tells us our mediator, Jesus Christ, can save those who come to God through him (see Heb 7:25). He’s not talking here about initial conversion; he’s writing to those who are already Christians. He’s using the word “save” to speak of deliverance in history. The Levitical priests failed, but the high priest of the new covenant can bring God’s promises to you. God has already blessed those who trust in Christ with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3). Your relationship to this mediator grants you access to these benefits.