Shepherds and the Word of God
Passage: Malachi 2:1–2:1
Below are some thoughts and questions for personal reflection or group discussion.
In this sermon we reflected especially on Malachi 2:6-7 and the priests’ failure to care for the people in the same way as the ancient priests of Israel about whom God said:
“True instruction was in his mouth, and nothing wrong was found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and fairness and turned many from sin. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts.”
If you recall, we especially drew out the theme of priests giving accurate instruction and guarding knowledge concerning the things of God.
- Read Genesis 3:1-5 and Matthew 4:8-11
What “weapons” would you say Satan used against Eve and against Adam – as well as Jesus? What was he aiming to do and what was his technique?
What does this tell us about the most important things about us, and where we are most vulnerable?
- Read Paul’s description of spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Carefully consider… how does this passage relate to the scenes in Genesis 3 and Matthew 4? How do Paul’s “weapons” speak to the challenges posed by Satan in the Garden of Eden and the dessert Temptation.
Contrast how Satan attacks the truth and sows lies with how God’s Spirit leads us into the true “knowledge of God,” His character, His gospel, His promises, His warnings. To help us in this spiritual battle, the Lord gives leaders to the church in the form of elders/pastors so that God’s people might be shepherded with His truth. We see this in his giving of “pastor-teachers” in Ephesians 4:11 and in the call of elders who are “able to teach” and who hold “the faithful message as taught so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.” Pastors “must give an account” (Hebrews 13:17) for the flock of God, to see that they are fed the truth and to help them to keep walking with Jesus, according to the Truth.
If the Lord commands that pastor-elders should be “shepherds of the flock” (1 Peter 5:2) who shepherd with the word of God, what are the implications for how the church should respond to pastor-elders assigned to this task?
For instance, what are implications for your prayer-life, for Sunday meetings where the word is preached, and for times when a pastor may mishandle the word of God?