Agonizomai: Malachi 1:11 - God's Sovereign Purposes

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Malachi 1:11 - God's Sovereign Purposes

Malachi 1:11 - God's Sovereign Purposes

Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.

Not "I wish my name to be great among the nations." Not, "I hope you cooperate and help me to make my Name great among the nations." Not even, "If you repent it will demonstrate my Name to be great among the nations." But what does God say? "My Name will be great among the nations."

There is an important lesson in this. God is already great and glorious. He is so whether or not Israel obeys. He does not need Israel but Israel most assuredly needs Him. And regardless of what Israel does God’s Name will be great among the nations. This is something to bring fear to any heart. God is able and God will get glory not only in the salvation of souls, but also through the disobedience, rebellion, unfaithfulness, apostasy and unbelief of men - both pagan and professing believer.

His chastisements bring Him glory because they are meted out in love and longsuffering and patience and forbearance on account of Jesus Christ.

His judgements bring glory because He righteously and justly cuts off and condemns sinners according to His perfect light in Jesus Christ.

His salvation brings Him glory because, in Jesus Christ, He has wrought something into which angels long to look, and that will be subject of the inquiry by the saints throughout eternity. Unfathomable. Unsearchable. Matchless love and grace.

All, of creation will be seen to bring glory to God through Jesus Christ, for Whom all things were made, and unto Whom are all things. {Col 1:16} Hell will bring glory to God. Satan will bring glory to God. Condemned sinners will bring glory to God. This is because His glory does not depend upon anything in creation. There is none like Him.

If there is indeed a God then all other things are moot. Either God is (I AM that I AM) or He is not. If He is - then game over! He is God! Almighty, unshakeable, unchangeable, unmovable, eternal, omnipotent - from age to age the same. Lord of all that His hands have made including Satan, the host of heaven, the universe, flora, fauna, little green men (if there ever should prove to be such things) and especially over the existence, the hearts and the wills of those most ungrateful, rebellious, wicked and god-hating naked little bipeds that shake their fists toward heaven with every thought and deed – namely, mankind.

And the real clue as to why God’s Name will be great among the nations with infallible certainty is this - the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. {1Pe 1:17-21} and {AV Re 13:8} God purposed in love, before creation that, in Jesus Christ, His Name would be glorified through the redemption of His church, to the praise of the glory of His grace. What God decrees He brings to pass always and infallibly. He does all His will among the armies of heaven and none of His purposes can be frustrated.

It is because of this that all things are for Him and by Him and through Him. ALL THINGS. Creation, redemption, judgement history, lives, beginnings, endings - all events and creatures both heavenly and earthly. Every atom. Every particle from one end of the universe to the other. And another key is found in this - God upholds all things by the Word of His power. {Heb 1:1-3} He didn’t just create and then disappear. Every vibration of every atom - every breath of every creature, including you and I, is given and upheld by God through Jesus Christ.

At the same time He took on bodily form, walking as a man, yet in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead upholding the very world and universe in which He walked. All God and all man at the same time. It is unfathomable. What are you doing for eternity? Hopefully, contemplating this unfathomable truth.

Not to lose sight here of God’s specific address to Israel at their moment of apostasy - at a time when the last of the prophets before Christ spoke the warnings and admonishments to the leaders who had failed to guide the way for the people. God says that, no matter the failings of Israel, God’s Name will be great among the nations (read Gentiles) - an astonishing thing to many Jews. The Jews were supposed to be a light unto the Gentiles to lead them to God. Instead they had made the Name of God a byword among the heathen by their own lack of faith and obedience. By the time of Christ He spoke of their "religion" in this way - "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves." {Mt 23:15}

The Jews came to think (perhaps always did) that greatness among the Gentiles meant dominating them politically and militarily - and then exerting the moral authority to make them follow Moses and the prophets. This is a perfect type of carnal religion down to our own day. It is making flesh our arm and not God - and it brings God’s curse upon us. {Jer 17:5} (Not a new curse, but the increased fruit of the old one) It is a perfect picture of how we must live in a world full of means and things and people and situations - but we are called to live in it not through the flesh but by the Spirit of God through the obedience of faith.

It is a picture of how we take the commands of God and clothe them in flesh; or of how we start in the Spirit and end up in the flesh. God does not expect us to overcome the physical universe, to defeat armies, to change governments, to make converts. He expects us to trust Him to do it through us when we obey what He says. There is a huge, huge difference. The difference is between life and death. Everything in the natural man and in the residual flesh of the believer calls him to be master of his own fate, to be the cause and effect, the beginning and end. To be the effectuator, the proactive, the result-getter; to make a difference. But this is not God’s way. We are to be slaves of His will, who have died to our own fleshly desires and are led by the Spirit of God. When we are - then God’s will is done through us. His will, our vessel. His power, our submission. His purpose, our sacrificed bodies.

There was so little of this in Israel at the time of Malachi and there is so little of it in the church today. The prophets that these people "revered" were stoned persecuted and sawn asunder and slain with the sword and imprisoned by the leaders of Israel - culminating in the crucifixion of the True Prophet, Priest and King, of Whom all others were but a type. This clearly reveals that the natural man hates God, hates His will, His Word and His purposes. So long as religion can be turned into carnal doings they will love the God of their own creation - but when God demands that He be obeyed and worshiped as God - when He insists on things being done His way - they will kill the messenger because they hate the One Whose message is being delivered.

Beware the 21st Century professing church. This is a perfect picture of what North American Christianity has become to many. And it is laid at the door first and foremost of leaders - just as it was in the time of Malachi. " Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." {AV Pr 29:18} This is a Jewish literary device of double emphasis - in this case an affirmative emphasis. When the people of God are not given the word of God (Prophetic teaching) then they go astray. The leadership is culpable, but not determinative. They will answer to God, but God will achieve everything He planned from the beginning of time in every detail.

And part of this will be to raise up a people for Himself who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. He will do it. He will put a new heart within them. He will cause them to walk in His statutes and to respect His ordinances. Just read this passage from Ezekiel and ask yourself why and whether God will save a people for Himself. {Eze 36:20-36} And THIS is the reason that His Name will be great among the nations; not for what any man has done, save the man Jesus Christ, Who is God in the flesh bringing it all to pass.


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