THE HERITAGE BLOG

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding.

Posted by Matthew Recker on October 17, 2017

Dung on the Face?

Malachi 2:3

“I will… spread dung upon your faces…”

We might think this is a bit “over the top!” I have never preached about God spreading dung on the faces of the priests, and on the surface, it seemed a coarse tactic to use. Recently I have been preaching through Malachi and was confronted and challenged by this troubling passage. What could this possibly mean and why would God go to such extreme measures?

The Levites were called to speak blessing to the nation because they ought to have been glorifying, fearing, and obeying God and teaching Israel likewise to do (Numbers 6:22-27; Deut.31:9-13; Deut. 33:10). They had the incredible privilege to serve in the temple and teach Israel the Word of God, but they were despising both God’s name and their calling to serve Him (Mal.1:6, 12). Their work had become like a boring job and cumbersome burden. They went through the motions of formality of religion and offered blind, lame, and sick sacrifices which should have been disqualified, and in doing so they were despising God’s name. Their teaching led many to fall away from God (Mal.2:8). God warns them that if they do not repent He will curse the blessing of this privileged ministry. He will sweep them away in order that His covenant promises to Israel would continue.

This judgment by God upon the priests was His response to their corrupt behavior which in effect disqualified them from serving at God’s holy altar.

What is God saying when He threatens the priests that He will “spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it?” (Malachi 2:3) In very direct and coarse language, God is saying that the priest’s sacrifices should have been ineligible for sacrificial use, but by their continual offering of blind and lame sacrifices, which was clearly contrary to the Mosaic Law (Deut.15:21), they were now disqualified from His service.

God will expose their crimes of disobedience and remove them from their privileged service. How? By spreading the dung of the sacrificial beasts upon their faces!  The dung was the undigested contents of the stomach and intestines of the animal sacrifices, something so disgusting and unclean that it was carried outside the camp and burned. (Exodus 29:14; Lev. 4:11) This act would obviously make the priests as unclean as the dung of those sacrifices and fit them for the garbage heap.

God warns the priests that they are at a “make or break moment.” If they refuse to repent He will publicly expose their sins, humiliate them for their unrepentant behavior, and disqualify them from continuing in their priestly ministry. God is saying that the priests were like the waste part of the animal that was not worth anything but judgment.

What a radical reversal of their privileged priestly position. They no longer were qualified to serve in the temple. Their place would be with the refuse.

They still had an opportunity to repent, however, just as the High Priest Joshua had done in Zechariah 3. In that passage he was clothed with “filthy garments” (Zechariah 3:3) Some believe that this is the excrement of the sacrificial animals similar to the “dung” in Malachi 2:3. God in mercy forgave his iniquity and in grace clothed him with clean garments. Just as there was hope and forgiveness for Joshua the High Priest, there is hope and forgiveness for the priests of Malachi’s day.

Many of us have seen or heard of men in ministry fall into some terrible sin that disqualified them from ministry. Often we respected and sought to emulate some of these men. Nevertheless, these individual who were privileged and respected in their public office, secretly persisted in some sin until it was publicly exposed. At that time, they were humiliated and immediately removed from their service. Sadly, the illustrations are numerous.

There are men functioning now who may be living in unrepentant sin and continuing in it, thinking that they can get away with it. They can’t. A person can choose whether God will forgive them and clothe them with a change of raiment, or whether He will in a sense, spread dung on their face, that is, publicly expose their sin, humiliate them and remove them from ministry. The Apostle Paul warns the Corinthians, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17). Judgment then and now “must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

Posted by Matthew Recker on October 9, 2017

The 10 Commandments of James for Times of Despair, Death & Devastation

In such a time as this, as our hearts mourn the destruction of hurricanes throughout our land and the horror of the murderous rampage in Las Vegas, we may wonder how to respond. One Bible passage that gives a wonderful heart response are the “Ten Commandments” of James 4:7-10.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

The ten commands in this passage are highlighted by these words:

1. Submit to God: We must order ourselves under God’s authority and surrender ourselves to His will and service.

2. Resist the Devil: Refuse to listen to Satan’s lies that God does not love us. Resist demonic temptations to get angry at God for allowing the devastations we see.

3. Draw nigh to God: Spend time seeking God through the Scripture, in supplication, and songs of praise.

4. Cleanse your hands: commit yourself to work for the glory of God’s name. Refuse to use your hands to fulfill the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life.

5. Purify your hearts: Confess your sins to God and forsake them daily. Take up your cross and follow Jesus, knowing that His forgiveness is real, and His righteousness is our perfect standing.

6. Be afflicted: Put yourself in the place of those who have suffered extreme loss. Ask yourself, what if my husband, wife, or child was taken from me? What if my home was destroyed in a moment of time?

7. Mourn: Lament those who are in pain. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

8. Weep: Ask God to touch your heart with the same compassion Jesus had when he “beheld the city, and wept over it,” knowing of Jerusalem’s coming desolation Luke 19:41.

9. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness: There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecc.3:4). When tragedy strikes, we ought to bear one another’s burdens and mourn with those who mourn.

10. Humble yourself and He will lift you up: Commit yourself and those who are undergoing such distress into the mighty hand of our all-knowing God. “All things work together for good, to them them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). As you obey this last command, claim the promise that accompanies it.

May God “lift up” and have mercy upon our land, bring healing to hearts ravaged by terror, rebuild homes ravaged by storms, and save many who call upon Him in true repentance and faith. Our hearts do mourn, weep, and share in the grief of so many who have suffered loss, and we will seek to humble ourselves under the mighty and loving hand of our Savior Jesus Christ so that He will lift us up with His saving hand.

Posted by Matthew Recker on October 7, 2017

Let’s Draw Near to God!

In such a time as this, as our hearts mourn the destruction of hurricanes throughout our land and the horror of the murderous rampage in Las Vegas, at Heritage we will pray as a church body the 10 Commandments of the NT given by James in James 4:7-10:

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

The ten commands in this passage are highlighted by these words:

“Submit…resist…draw nigh…cleanse…purify…be afflicted…mourn…weep…let… humble…” Join us as we draw near to God and cling to His promise that He will draw near to us.

May God have mercy upon our land, bring healing to hearts ravaged by terror and rebuild homes ravaged by storms. Our hearts do mourn, weep, and share in the grief of so many who have suffered loss, and we will seek to humble ourselves under His mighty and loving hand of our Savior Jesus Christ so that He will lift us up with His healing hand.