For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. (Mal 2:7)
I have been meditating on this profound little verse a lot lately. I have experienced some of the outworking of it in my job lately. It is becoming more and more common for people to come to me for advice, information or insight relating to the problems (job related) that they are facing. In one incident just this week, a colleague was tackling a problem which had been unsolved for several months, and after struggling for a few hours, she said to herself - "I know what to do. I'll ask Chris!" And to her delight I was able to solve the problem in a couple of hours.
Now you may think, "What has this got to do with this verse or the role of a priest? Surely this is just because you are good at your job." Maybe, but I know the one who gives gifts and abilities to men, and has the power to raise them up or to bring them low. I believe that it is God's will to raise his people, like Solomon or Daniel, to positions of prominence so that they have a reputation of being able to solve difficult problems, to give good advice, and to be able to help when no-one else can. "From his mouth men should seek instruction."
This is where the role of the priest comes in, because I believe that this is caused, not just by a God-given excellence in our employment, but because we have stood (as the Old Testament priests did) in the presence of God. Just as in the case of Daniel and his friends, although it was the Babylonians who trained them, their learning and skill came from God - not just spiritual learning either, but learning in the secular literature of the Babylonians!
"God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom" Dan 1:17
You see, if we have stood in the presence of the Lord, then when people come to us for instruction we will have something to say. Whether it is on a spiritual matter or a secular one. It is the same God who created both realms.
When Jeremiah brought the world of the Lord to condemn the false prophets of his day, one of the accusations against them was that none of them had stood in the presence of the Lord to see or hear his word. When Gabriel announced himself to Mary, before he told her that he had come to bring her a message, he gave his qualifications to bring that message: "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God" It is those who have stood in the presence of the Lord who are qualified to speak on his behalf.
This last case got me thinking about the last part of this verse: "for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." As you are no doubt aware the word for messenger is the same as the word for angel. And Lord of Hosts: "Jehovah Sabaoth", means God of all the angelic multitude. So we could also read this part of the verse as:
"For he is [like] an angel from the God of angels"
When we have stood in the presence of the Lord and go out into the world with his words on our lips we are to the people we meet like an angel from God. Never is this so much so as when we hold out the greatest knowledge of all: the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.