Charles Simeon Commentary - Malachi 1:11 - 1:11

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Malachi 1:11 - 1:11


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DISCOURSE: 1269

THE CALLING OF THE GENTILES

Mal_1:11. From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles: and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.

THROUGHOUT all the prophetic writings we shall find the predicted abandonment of the Jews followed by a promise respecting the future call of the Gentiles. It should seem as if God intended by this to provoke his people to jealousy, according as he had before intimated by Moses, in order that by any means he might stir them up to deprecate his threatened judgments. In the passage before us, Jehovah complains of the extreme impiety of the Jewish nation. Amongst the priests themselves, who should have been an example to others, such was the selfishness and utter destitution of every religious principle, that none were to be found who would even shut the temple doors for nought, or kindle a fire upon his altar but for their own temporal advantage. God therefore tells them, that he would “no more accept an offering at their hands.” But would he therefore be destitute of a people, and be forgotten in the world? No: “for” he would take to himself a people from among the heathen, amongst whom such offerings should be presented to him as he would accept, and “his name,” which the Jewish people had so dishonoured and despised, “should be great among them to the ends of the earth.” Thus would he make their apostasy subservient to the good of others, or, as St. Paul expresses it, “the fall of the Jews should be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them should be the riches of the Gentiles [Note: Rom_11:11-12.].”

In further considering this prophecy, shall notice,

I.       What is implied in it—

We may see here by implication,

1.       The intended abolition of the Mosaic law—

[Sacrifices and incense were to be offered at Jerusalem alone, and in the temple, in which God had chosen to place his name there [Note: Deu_12:10-14.]. But in the prophecy before us it is intimated, that incense and offerings should be presented to the Lord in every place; which could not be without a disannulling of tile commandment before given. Of course, with this one commandment must the whole law be abrogated, because the whole priestly office, in all its most important operations, would be superseded. Nor is this an inference of mine only: it is drawn by an inspired Apostle from premises precisely similar. God had foretold, by David, that a new order of priesthood should arise, even one after the order of Melchizedec. This would of necessity militate against, and supersede, the established priesthood; that which was predicted being to arise from the tribe of Judah, whilst that which had been established was confined to the tribe of Levi. From hence the Apostle infers the total abolition of the Levitical priesthood, and of the whole law with which it was connected [Note: Heb_7:11-14.]: and the same inference is plainly deducible from the prediction contained in our text.

This observation shews how mistaken the Jews are in thinking their ceremonial law to be of perpetual obligation; since their own prophets frequently, and in the plainest terms, intimated, that it was intended only for a season, to prepare the way for a better and more spiritual dispensation: and, in conversing with the Jews, it will be well to shew them this from their own Scriptures, as St. Paul himself has done, in the most satisfactory manner, in his Epistle to the Hebrews.]

2.       The nature of that worship which alone is acceptable to God—

[Of the ceremonial observances, when unattended with a spiritual frame of mind, God himself has frequently spoken in the most contemptuous terms [Note: See Isa_1:10-14. Jer_6:20. Amo_5:21-23.] — — — The temple itself, as the first martyr Stephen informed the Jews, was despicable in God’s eyes, if its ordinances were not administered in a becoming manner [Note: Isa_66:1-2. with Act_7:48-50.]. It is the incense of a devout spirit, and the offering of a pure heart, that God approves: and wherever these are presented to him, there will he give manifest testimonies of his favourable acceptance. This is plainly intimated in the prophecy before us; and by our Lord himself it is unequivocally declared to the Samaritan woman; “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him [Note: Joh_4:21; Joh_4:23.].”

This is a point that deserves attention from us, as much as from the Jews. We, no less than they, are apt to rest in external observances, and to think that we serve God, if we perform some outward act which he prescribes. But we must never forget that he looketh at the heart, and estimates all our services entirely by that — — — “If we draw nigh to him with our lips, whilst our heart is far from him, we worship him in vain [Note: Mat_15:8-9.].”]

But to enter more fully into the prophecy, we must notice,

II.      What is expressed in it—

It announces clearly,

1.       The calling of the Gentiles—

[It is surprising that the Jews should not have seen that the Gentiles were, in God’s time, to be called into his Church. The prophecies relating to this subject were innumerable: yet not even the Apostles themselves, for several years after the day of Pentecost, were able to enter into their import, or to acquiesce in the purposes of the Most High. It will not be unprofitable to turn to a few passages in the Psalms, and in the Prophets, relating to this event [Note: Psa_22:27; Psa_72:11. In Psa_98:1-3. it is spoken of as if it were already accomplished. See also Isa_11:9; Isa_49:6; Isa_49:22-23 and Zec_8:20-22.] — — — We may consult also some passages adduced by the Apostles in relation to it [Note: Act_15:14-17. Rom_15:9-12.] — — — What can be more clear? Even the text alone, if there had been no other passage, would have been sufficient to establish this point beyond a doubt. How strange then is it, that, even to this hour, the Jews should not be able to see in us the accomplishment of their own prophecies! But it has been well said, that prejudice has neither eyes nor ears; nor can any evidence suffice, without the operation of divine grace, to bear down its influence. We see this in relation to the Jews and their Scriptures; and we must not be stumbled, if we see it in Christians also, notwithstanding the superior light which they enjoy.]

2.       The state of the world when that event shall take place—

[“God’s name will then be great,” in every place, and in every heart. The regard paid to him will no longer be formal and fictitious: it will be spiritual and real, from the inmost soul. All his perfections will be then adored: all his dispensations will be received with the profoundest reverence, as the counsels of unerring wisdom, and as the fruits of unchanging love. The name of Christ especially, O how precious will that be! when all the glory of the Godhead is beheld in his face, and all the treasures of divine grace are received through him: verily, as the prophet has said, he will in that day “be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” That this will be the case in the latter day, may be seen by what took place in the apostolic age. It may be farther seen in what is yet daily realized in our own hearts: and so far will it be from being diminished by the further diffusion of divine light, that in that day “the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days;” and “the knowledge of the Saviour’s glory will be, no less in depth than in extent, as the waters that cover the sea” — — —]

This subject may be yet further improved—

1.       For the edification of our own souls—

[Let us see how far our calling has been productive of suitable effects. What is the estimation in which our Saviour is held by us? and, What are the offerings which from day to day we are presenting before him? Truly if we view him aright, all other things are as dung and dross in comparison of him — — — and, if we are serving him aright, our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, are sanctified unto him, as a reasonable service [Note: Rom_12:1.] — — —]

2.       For the encouragement of our exertions in behalf of others—

[This prophecy must be fulfilled in all its extent. Whatever difficulties may lie in the way, they shall all vanish, as soon as the Lord’s time is fully come. The evening shades may in appearance be more and more obscuring the horizon; but “in the evening time it shall be light.” As instruments, we may be but weak: but this need not discourage us. We are not weaker than was the rod whereby Moses wrought all his miracles. If God be pleased to make use of us, “the depths of the sea shall become a way for the ransomed to pass over;” and “the rock shall pour forth its streams to give drink to the chosen people of the Lord.” “The Lord will work; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”]