Literalism – Malachi 1:11

There is a long discussion over how literally we should take Biblical passages.  Are heavenly streets really gold or is it a metaphor (how can gold be as clear as crystal?).  Will there be a restored sacrificial system in the millennium, or is that a metaphor of something else? (If it is restored how to you explain Hebrews 10?)

In Malachi 1:11, the prophet points out the lack of vision among the Spiritual Leaders of Israel – they did not see the bigger work that God was intending to do in the world.  This larger work was not just in Jerusalem, but among all the nations.

In discussing this he states that “incense and offerings will be brought in my name.”  Some take this to mean that the Lord accepted worship in pagan temples – but that misses the stress on “my name” (v. 6,11(2x), 14).  Offerings to Baal or other deities can hardly be said to be given toward the Name of the LORD.

What about his incense?  Some suggested that this verse endorses the concept that Christian worship ought to have an OT Priestly and sacramental character – that incense is really important to NT worship.  Others suggest that this can not refer to the Christian era (where the gospel has gone to the Nations, and where among the nations we can say that worship and prayer is offered in his name), because of the incense.

It would seem best to see that the incense is more incidental, as a method of worship, than it is central to the promise.  Incense is said to represent prayer (Psalm 141:2; I Peter 2:4;).  A fulfillment does not have to be literalistic.

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