Beckett: The Name of Yahweh

Malachi 1:1-14
The oracle of the Word of Yahweh to Israel by Malachi. “I have loved you,” says Yahweh. But you say, “How have You loved me?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares Yahweh. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” Yahweh of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom Yahweh is angry forever.'” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is Yahweh beyond the border of Israel!”

“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honour? And if I am a master, where is My fear? says Yahweh of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’ By offering polluted food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted You?’ By saying that Yahweh’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will heh accept you or show you favour? says Yahweh of hosts.

“And now entreat the favour of God, that He may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will He show favour to any of you? says Yahweh of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that yo might not kindle fire on My altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says Yahweh of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says Yahweh of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.

“But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says Yahweh of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says Yahweh. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says Yahweh of hosts, and My name will be feared among the nations.”

Three times in this chapter God says His name will be exalted among the nations. Verse 11, “For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name will be great among the nations… For My name will be great among the nations, says Yahweh of hosts.” And verse 14, “My name will be feared among the nations.” Indeed, this is (almost) true. That is, God’s Word here is almost fulfilled.

There still remain people in many nations who have never heard of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet for those who know who God is, His name stands the greatest among all others whether He is loved or hated and whether He is believed in or not. Either way, God’s name stands as great and most to be feared. If His name weren’t so great, then many atheists wouldn’t waste so much time hating a God they believe doesn’t exist. Still, there will be a time when all nations will know the name of God and fear Him (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11; Isaiah 45:23).

Thus, as Christians, we ought to take our use of God’s name quite seriously. Of course, there is the Second Commandment, “You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God,” which Luther explains, “We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” Beyond this, to take God’s name seriously is especially to take His Word seriously—that is, what He says.

If you wish to take God seriously and thereby honour His name, then you must believe God has defined sin, even your favourite sins, whether those sins be lying, gluttony, premarital sex, homosexuality, transgenderism, adultery, drunkenness, or whatever else you have deceived yourself to be permitted in God’s eyes. Otherwise, you depose His Word and thereby profane His name, which if you do, you should fear His name, for God’s promise to sin is to destroy it.

Thankfully, our fear of God comes to an end in Christ. That is, as the Law does its work in our hearts and convicts us of our pride and sin, we come to Christ who brings our fear of God to an end when He forgives our sins in sincere repentance. This is a continuous cycle of repentance. This gift comes at no cost of yours, but at the cost of the precious blood of God’s only Son, which He freely gave for you so you can boldly approach the throne and ask for forgiveness.

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