Malachi 2:1-9 Holding Leadership Accountable


The unheeding Levite
The ideal Levite
The wayward Levite


Robert Murray McCheyne said once that his people’s greatest need was his personal holiness. Why is it that a church’s greatest need is for the minister to be as holy as he can be? I think John Benton said it well, it is rare for the spirituality of the group of Christians to exceed that its leaders. Leaders set the tone for worship, they give direction, they give teaching and instruction and they are supposed to model the Christlike life as Paul does, 1 Cor. 11:1, ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.’ Truth is as much, or perhaps more caught than taught so a leader’s life and teaching is to be guarded closely. This is why Paul says to Timothy, 1 Timothy 4:16, ‘Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.’ It is for this reason that teachers are held to a higher standard of accountability, James 3:1, ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.’

In the portion before us we see God holding the spiritual leaders, the priests accountable for their failure. We see God warning judgement, outlining the ideal priest and naming their failures. Any look at God’s standards for leaders is useful for every Christian because as believers we are to find good leaders in good churches and gladly commit ourselves to submit to their care and instruction. As Christians we are to appoint Christian men who fulfil these requirements to positions of authority. And, if leaders are to live a godly life that we might imitate them, then we need to heed the standards they are held to as standards relevant to us all.

Malachi has been rebuking the priests for the shoddy worship that they have allowed to take place in Israel, as well as the Israelites for the half-hearted way in which they have worshipped. In Malachi 2:1-9, God is drilling down deeper into the failures of the priesthood. We will look at this section under three headings, the unheeding Levite; the ideal Levite, and the wayward Levite.