Friday, December 7, 2007

Levi sets the pace

"My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 'For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.' " (Malachi 2:5-7)

I came across this verse a number of years ago and it stopped me then, as it continues to stop me today. It has become a "life-verse" for me in a sense; I put "life-verse" in quotes because it's something I want my life to be marked by, but it is such a high calling I feel I could never measure up. Nevertheless, it's a passage that has impacted me and so I share it with you now. And let me tell you, as I have studied these verses, there is much more here then first meets the eye, and I am still uncovering it. However, I present you with the initial thoughts that hit me when I first read it...

1. The covenant: just as God made a covenant with Levi (the covenant was actually established through Phineas), God has made a covenant with us. The covenant with Levi was one of an "everlasting priesthood" just as God's covenant with us involves an everlasting priesthood (we are being made into a kingdom of priests, and also, Jesus stands as our great priest: click here for more on this). The covenant with Levi was one of "life" and "peace" and in a very real sense, God's covenant with us is one of "life" (through Jesus) and one of "peace" (again, through Jesus, the "Prince of Peace").

Now for our part...
2. We are to "revere God" and stand in "awe" of His name.
- Revere
: to regard with awe, deference or devotion.
- Awe
: A mixed emotion of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might...
I read in a book this year that the word "awesome," which I (and we) so casually throw around, is a word that should actually be reserved for God.
- Awesome: worthy of awe.
Question: do I revere God and stand in awe of Him?

3. My mouth should be filled with true instruction, and nothing false. That is indeed a high calling. How often have I casually handed out advice, criticism, judgment and worse? In order for the above to be true of me, it presupposes that I have true instruction to give. This requires a knowledge of God's Word and His desires that can only be found in study, prayer, solitude and experience. And how about that "nothing false" bit? Do I speak truthfully always? There are two parts to "nothing false;" a) there is the obvious part of telling a lie, b) there is the less obvious part of withholding the truth (which so many public figures are so good at), and c) there is the even less-obvious part of shrinking back from difficult situations. It is easy to avoid a) but how about b) and c)? Can it be said of me that in all times, in all situations, my mouth was filled with true instruction and nothing false was found on my lips?

4. Perhaps the biggest challenge, am I...
a) walking with God?
b) if so, am I walking with Him in peace (read: am I a peacemaker) and uprightness (with integrity)?
c) am I "turning many from sin?" But how can I be responsible for turning people from sin? Perhaps this can best be answered with another question; is it possible for us to turn someone to sin? I say yes. It is easy for us to lead people into sin. Therefore, as I learned from my logic 101 course so many years ago, the opposite must also be true. But how can we turn people from sin? Many ways; prayer, discipleship, speaking the truth in love (with "true instruction"), training and teaching, sharing your life with others. Perhaps the least effective way to turn someone from sin is the direct approach of telling them they're messing up; but even that can work.

5. Preserving knowledge and knowing your calling: do you know that you too are a messenger of God? The New Testament teaches us that under the new Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are all being made into a kingdom of priests. MUCH MORE can be said here, but think of it this way; the OT priests main duties were to mediate between man and God. Under the new covenant, Jesus provides a way for all of us have direct access to God. In other words, you too, as a believer, are 'on the hook' for preserving knowledge because you "are a messenger of the Lord Almighty."

This is a high calling, but join with me and let's "aim high." I would love nothing more then for God to say of me these same words he said of Levi.

1 comment:

Gman said...

I very much enjoyed that Mike. Well thought out insights that leave me challenged. Thanks