Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Prophecy of Malachi 1:11

Over the past few years I have lost count of how many times I've heard various prophesies, dreams and visions from Scripture get tossed around to 'prove' that "the world will end on [such-n-such date]", or "Rome is the great harlot", or "the rapture will leave the sinners behind [in such-n-such fashion for such amount of time]".  Of course, it only takes a closer look at Scripture and history to see that these assertions are a gross misapplication of Scripture.  But there is one prophecy in particular that seems to get ignored.  While hunting through the various prophesies to 'prove' one thing or another, this one, for whatever reason, is simply overlooked by those folks who otherwise 'seem' like they are out to uncover the truth.  It is a prophecy tucked into the first chapter of the book of Malachi while the Israelites were being reprimanded by God.

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 1:11)

Some later translations, such as the KJV and New American Standard, use future-tense verbs (" name will be great...incense is going to be offered...").What exactly is being said here?  Let's take a look.*

"...For from the rising of the sun to its setting...".  Catholics should be very familiar with this because we hear it at Mass, sometimes as "...from east to west...".  In the corrected translation of the English, Catholics will hear the following in Eucharistic Prayer III: 

"You are indeed Holy, O Lord,
and all you have created rightly gives you praise,
for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,
by the power and working of the Holy Spirit,
you give life to all things and make them holy,
and you never cease to gather a people to yourself,
so that from the rising of the sun to its setting
a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name."

I suppose you can look at it how you want.  It can be a linear timeline, so to speak, as in "from dawn to dusk", or a global view suggesting "all around the world"  I would be willing to bet that it has a deeper meaning than meets the eye and is not limited to just one or the other of those.

" name is great among the nations...".  This is how we see that it was a prophecy of a time to come, which had not yet been fulfilled when Malachi was recorded.  God's Name was not yet "great among the nations" in that time because most nations were pagan. God had not yet been proclaimed to all the nations.  As I noted earlier, some later translations use future tense verbs here.  Every Christian should be able to identify with this because every Christian is called to profess Christ to all the spread the Gospel message to all the world.  In the past 2,000 years I think it's fair to say that we've reached the far corners of the globe to proclaim Christ.  Already hundreds of years ago, missionaries were setting out to the most remote parts of the world, often times being martyred for doing so.  Though I have no doubt that our work is far from complete since our very nature as humans demands continual proclamation of Christ to 'new-born' ears who have not yet heard the Gospel.

"...and in every place incense is offered to my name...".  It's very clear here that God, speaking through His prophet, expects to have incense offered to His Name in every place in a time when His Name is great among the nations, as part of this prophecy.  This should be very familiar to Catholics, some Lutherans and Anglicans/Episcopalians, and perhaps others who have not abandoned the use of incense in their worship.

"...and a pure offering...".  A pure offering.  Think about this for a moment.  A pure offering.  Some translations say "clean oblation".  What is the ONLY offering that we could make to God which is PURE or clean?  I think the only answer here is "Christ".  Jesus Christ is the only pure offering that could be made to God.  And wasn't this prophecy fulfilled in Christ on Calvary?  Of course it was.  But there's more to it than that because, when Christ was offered, rather, when He offered Himself once for all (cff. Rom 6:10, Hb 7:27, 10:1-13), God's Name was still not "great among the nations".  Most nations were still "Gentile" or "heathen" at this time.  Pagan worship was still the norm...hence the command of Christ to His Apostles to "...go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28: 19-20).  The world had not yet been converted to Christ.  This pure offering is directly linked to the incense which was to be offered in God's Name, that Name being great among the nations:   "...and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts".  But how can Christ, the "pure offering", be offered in future tense as this prophecy is fulfilled along with God's Name becoming great among the nations?  Well, for a Catholic that's an easy one:  Christ's once-for-all Sacrifice is re-presented for ALL God's people to participate in, even those who were not alive in the year 33 AD to be present at Calvary, through the Mass.  You see, in the Catholic Mass, the Priest, submitting himself to the actions of Christ through him, obediently does the Will of Christ:  "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lk 22:19) to make present for us the once-for-all Sacrifice that Christ offered.

This is a prophecy for a time to come when God’s Name is "great among the nations” and “in every place” from East to West (and/or morning to night) “incense” is offered and a “pure offering” is made. What is the ONLY pure offering that can be made to God?  Jesus Christ.  And how is Christ offered?  In the Catholic Church, His once-for-all Sacrifice is re-presented at the Mass, where "from the rising of the sun to its setting" [every single day, all around the world in every time zone, morning and night] God's Name being "great among the nations", "incense is offered to [His] name, and a pure offering [Christ]". 

Does your church offer a pure offering with incense, every day, from the rising of the sun to its setting, in every nation throughout the world the way that Malachi 1:11 prophesies?  If not, why not? 

*This passage seems to speak on more than one level, as God's Word often does.  In digging deeper to find what the Church actually teaches on this passage, I was directed to a reference to it in the writings of the Council of Trent which endorses the above view.  I would also like to thank "Cathoholic" for the pertinent Catechism references that will follow the quotes from the council:

Chap. 1.[ The Institution of the Most HolySacrifice of the Mass ] *

938 Since under the former Testament (as the Apostle Paul bears witness) there was no consummation because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, it was necessary (God the Father of mercies ordaining it thus) that another priest according to the order of Melchisedech [ Gen. 14:18 ;Ps. 109:4;Heb. 7:11] arise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who could perfect [ Heb. 10:14] all who were to be sanctified, and lead them to perfection. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once to God the Father upon the altar of the Cross by the mediation of death, so that He might accomplish an eternal redemption for them [edd.: illic,there], nevertheless, that His sacerdotal office might not come to an end with His death [Heb. 7:24, 27] at the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1] (as the nature of man demands), whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be completed on the Cross might be represented, and the memory of it remain even to the end of the world [ 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.] and its saving grace be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted "a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech" Ps. 109:4; offered to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles (whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament), so that they might partake, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood in these words to make offering: "Do this in commemoration of me, etc." [ Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught [can. 2]. For, after He had celebrated the ancient feast of the Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed [Exod. 12:1 ff.] in memory of their exodus from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, Himself to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed us and "delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into His kingdom [Col. 1:13 ].

939 And this, indeed, is that "clean oblation" which cannot be defiled by any unworthiness or malice on the part of those who offer it; which the Lord foretold through Malachias must be offered in every place as a clean oblation [Mal. 1:11 ] to His name, which would be great among the gentiles, and which the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians has clearly indicated, when he says that they who are defiled by participation of the "table of the devils" cannot become partakers of the table of the Lord [ 1 Cor. 10:21], understanding by table in each case, the altar. It is finally that [sacrifice] which was prefigured by various types of sacrifices, in the period of nature and the Law [ Gen. 4:4;8:20;12:8;22; Ex: passim], inasmuch as it comprises all good things signified by them, as being the consummation and perfection of them all.
(Pius IV 1559-1565, Council of Trent, conclusion,
Session XXII, Sept. 17, 1562, The Doctrine on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass*, Scriptural references in original.)

CCC 611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice (1Cor 11:25).  Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it (cf. Lk 22:19).  By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth" (Jn 17:19, cf. Council of Trent:  DS 1752, 1764).

CCC 1330 The memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.
The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church's offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, "sacrifice of praise," spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, (Heb 13:15; cf. 1Pet 2:5; Ps 116:13, 17; Mal 1:11) since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church's whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

CCC 1350 The presentation of the offerings (the Offertory). Then, sometimes in procession, the bread and wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood. It is the very action of Christ at the Last Supper - "taking the bread and a cup." "The Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, when she offers what comes forth from his creation with thanksgiving" (Irenaeus Adv. haeres. 4,18,4: PG 7/1, 1027; cf. Mal 1:11).  The presentation of the offerings at the altar takes up the gesture of Melchizedek and commits the Creator's gifts into the hands of Christ who, in his sacrifice, brings to perfection all human attempts to offer sacrifices.

CCC 2643 The Eucharist contains and expresses all forms of prayer: it is "the pure offering" of the whole Body of Christ to the glory of God's name (cf. Mal 1:11) and, according to the traditions of East and West, it is the "sacrifice of praise." (Catechism of the Catholic Church )

1 comment:

  1. Just a note: in the references to "DS" (where the documents from the Council of Trent are referenced) there is an updated version. The CCC uses the new numbering (1724, 1752, and 1764 in this case). The 938 and 939 I provided above are the old numbering. These are 1723 and 1724, respectively, in the new numeration. Here is a link (not yet completed) that gives teh new numeration with a reference to the old: