From the Rising of the Sun
“’For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts.”—Malachi 1:11 (NKJV)
The sun is always rising somewhere . . . and on the other side of the planet, the sun is always setting. That used to be proof to theologians and scientists that the earth was the center of the universe. Then radical upstarts came along with new theories. “No,” they said. “The sun doesn’t go around the earth. The earth goes around the sun.”
“Heretic!” religious leaders shouted. As the sun rose over the horizon, the religious leader said, “Believe your own eyes. The sun begins its journey around the earth.” We know today that their thinking was limited. The “upstarts” had a much bigger picture in view.
The phrase “from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,” was used several times in prophetical writings to point to God’s future. Prophetical language like this is difficult to process. For the faithful Jew, the idea that God would include ethnically non-Jewish people in His future was unthinkable. Some ancient rabbinical writings reveal the widespread belief that the reason Gentiles were created was to stoke the fires of hell.
We Revolve Around Him
The Jews believed God revolved around their nation and temple. It was difficult to think that the future would be any different. The concept Malachi introduces in this passage involving the “burning of incense” (a symbol of prayer) in “every place”—and it being a “pure offering”—was radical thinking. Incense could only be burned in the temple.
In Jesus, God had a much bigger picture in view. God didn’t have only Israel in view. God was after the whole world. He, through Jesus Christ, was going to make salvation and inclusion in the people of God open to ALL NATIONS. Israel saw itself as the center of the action.
We, as Christians, talk so much about our own “personal relationships” with Jesus that we think that Jesus exists to orbit around us. We’re the center of the universe. We start to believe that, and our lives show it.
If you’re a non-Jew, then you’re part of the fulfillment of this prophesy from Malachi. And God isn’t done. It is still His will that ALL NATIONS come into His inheritance.
So look around. Jesus isn’t in orbit around you. You’re in orbit around Him.
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Bryon Mondok is a digital engagement practitioner, missions pastor, and former missionary. Loves to read, write, and run.