“But you have turned out of the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says YHWH of hosts. Malachi 2:8
To Stumble – God calls our priests to be intercessors and proclaimers of His truth. He holds them accountable to that charge. God charges His priests with two sins. First, they themselves have turned away from “the way.” What does that mean? It means that these priests no longer practice according to God’s instructions. Go back to the instructions in the Torah. God is meticulously specific about the actions of the priest. He sets the standard and it is not subject to modification. To be a priest is to follow His directions to the letter. To corrupt the covenant of Levi is a serious offense.
The second sin is a direct result of the first. When a priest of the Lord doesn’t do exactly what the Lord asks, the people stumble. Do you remember that often quoted verse, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18)? What you might not realize is that Solomon isn’t talking about foresight. Solomon is talking about prophets and priests. He tells us that unless we have seers, we are lost. We must have God’s words, given faithfully to us, established in our behavior, if we are to survive. This is not about a five-year planning committee. It’s about the faithful presence of our intercessors.
God charges the priests with personal disobedience and public misdirection. If the priest isn’t living according to God’s instructions, the people will stumble. The Hebrew verb here is kashal. This is a dangerous word. It is connected to falling by the sword, the collapse of nations and the rise of wickedness. When the priests don’t do what God expects, the whole nation totters. Did you think the death of nations was the result of failed economic policies, corrupt judges or bad politicians? Think again! God lays the blame at the feet of the priests.
The pictograph of kashal is “the last to destroy authority.” Stumbling is the last step that destroys control. What is left after stumbling is chaos. Did you notice the connection between “stumble” and Torah? When the priests are not true, the people destroy the authority of Torah. They stumble over God’s instructions. A priest who does not live and speak as God directs takes down the house! Why? Because the people no longer guard, honor or obey Torah.
This is very serious business. In God’s universe, the fate of entire nations rests in the hands and on the lips of God’s intercessors. The spiritual condition of God’s servants has a direct bearing on all God’s children. No wonder His servants are called to guard the Way.
Topical Index: stumble, kashal, Malachi 2:8, Proverbs 29:18
 For the moment, we will ignore the requirement that a priest be from the tribe of Levi.