Who Would Be A Teacher?
Ned was an exceptional teacher. He was one of three teachers in a 120 pupil country school. All classes were composite. Ned had the ability and skill to combine four grades in history and geography projects. Projects were assigned to one, two or three pupils. Each had to research the subject and then present their findings to the whole classroom. But Ned was not just an information/knowledge teacher. Ned taught life skills, social skills, respect for and appreciation of others. It was Ned who first asked me what I knew about the reformation. I'd never even heard the word 'reformation'! This astounded him.
Malachi, who lived 400 years before John the Baptist and Jesus, castigates the teacher/priests of his day. God had entered into a teaching covenant with the teachers/priests. God's curriculum was one of life and peace. These teachers had attitude, wrong attitude towards God. They did not determine in their hearts to either honour God or honour God's name. They had no deep respect for God and took him for granted [Malachi 2:2, 5].
The task of the teacher/priests is to teach the truth, not falsehood. In their private lives they are to walk with God in peace and uprightness, turning many from sin. They are to be the custodians of knowledge and people recognizing this would seek them out because they recognize them as being messengers of the Lord.
Sadly the reverse was true. The impact of their teaching on students turned them away from the truth, it caused some to lose their faith. The teacher/priests violated their teaching contract. They corrupted God's covenant, showed bias in their interpretation of the Bible and blatantly disobeyed God.
Because of their attitude and teaching practices God rebukes them and curses these delinquent teacher/priests three times. The words of Jesus are equally strong against anyone who causes another to be tripped up spiritually [Matthew 18:6-7]. Paul says any person who changes, modifies, corrupts or perverts the 'gospel of Jesus Christ' is to be eternally damned [Galatians 1:8-9].
Teaching is a vital component of healthy church life. Pastor/teachers are one of the people gifts God gives to the church [1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11]. Like priests under the old covenant, under the new covenant the elders/pastors/teachers are responsible to teach God's people the truth. James offers a word of warning: 'Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly' [James 3:1]. Why, because of the impact of their words on others.
But it is not just the content of Bible teaching that is important. Even more important is the attitude towards God of those who teach in the church. They are to walk with God in integrity, to honour God, reverence God, stand in awe of God, reverence the content of the Gospel.
God give us such teachers.
Dr Keith Graham