Meditations in Malachi : 11. The Ultimate Plan
Mal 1:11 My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
If we have wondered why God has been so concerned to get Israel back on track, the reason is now given. The key words in this verse are “among the nations”. This is ultimately God’s plan, that the WHOLE world knows about Him. One of the primary expressions of sin is godlessness and when we are godless we stray from God’s design for us and our behaviour soon becomes what the Bible simply calls, ‘unrighteous’. Unrighteous or unrighteousness simply means, ‘no longer right’. Righteousness means right behaviour and right living in accord with God’s design for us. Now because sin entered the word through Adam and Eve, the whole world is tainted with this tendency towards godlessness and unrighteousness. To draw us back into the blessing of His original design for mankind, the Lord has first to draw us back to Himself.
And that was the point of His entering into a relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and then the nation ofIsrael. His objective was that through Israel the world would see and know that there is a God of goodness and love, a Creator who made all things for our blessing, and a God who works to draw us back into relationship with Himself, so we can enter in again and experience the design for living that He had originally made.
Initially it was through His promises to Abram that this was made clear: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen 12:2,3) That promise was repeated at least three times to Abram and then to Isaac (Gen 26:2-4) and then to Jacob (Gen 28:13,14). Moses also became aware of what the other nations of the world would think of them (Num 14:13-17 and Deut 2:24,25, 4:5,6, 28:8-10). Joshua also realised it (Josh 4:23,24). King David was aware of it (1 Chron 16:8,24, Psa 57:9 and many other psalms) and also King Solomon (1 Kings 4:29-34. 8:41-43, 59-61. 9:6,7) and so on throughout the whole of the Old Testament.
We must be quite clear about this: Israel were to be a light to the Gentiles. They were to reveal God and His ways to the rest of the world. Through them they were to show the rest of the world what God was like. Did that happen? On rare occasions! The classic one was Solomon with the Queen of Sheba: When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions… When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. …… happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:1-10) She saw and understood!
But God is not put off by the sinfulness of Israel. Our verse today comes as a statement of fact, of what WILL be. It will be because of His Son, Jesus Christ, because of the Gospel and maybe, yet because of Israel itself. Of Jesus, the apostle Paul spoke: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11) One way or another, every knee IS going to bow before Jesus. It may be when people die and have to face him in all his glory, or it may be at the end when he returns as a conquering king (Rev 19:11-18)
So why does God make this declaration here? We suggest it is to remind Israel that this is what His goal is and they can either return to Him and be part of it, or fall away and be lost. It is their choice. He will bring this about as an end, so why be foolish and not be part of it?