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The Devastating Greatness of Our Lord


Back in the 1980’s some of us sang a song entitled, “Great Is The Lord”.  This particular song is based on Malachi 1:5 that reads, “great is the Lord, even beyond the borders of Israel”.  I often wonder if we really understand what we’re singing in our times of worship.  This song is a prime example. 


I think most of us understood the greatness of our Lord in this song to be a wonderful, marvelous, and glorious thing.  The song was upbeat.  It encouraged us to expect great things from the Lord.  But, is this what Malachi had in mind when he wrote these words? 


If you sang this song anticipating wonderfully positive things from our Lord, you might want to read what Malachi actually said.  Like any good Bible student, we need to understand the context in which these words were written.  If you read Malachi 1:1 – 5, you’ll soon discover that these words don’t represent a positive action on God’s part as you might have thought.  As a matter of fact, some people would be a bit agitated over what Malachi says.  They might even say that Malachi is misrepresenting God.


In the first five verses of Malachi the Lord was attempting to tell Israel how much He loved them.  Part of His explanation compared Israel with Edom.  God told Israel that He still loved them even though they had strayed far from Him. On the other hand, God was very angry with Edom because of their wickedness.  He told Edom that He’d demolish their nation and if they tried to rebuild, He’d demolish them again. No matter how many times Edom would rebuild, God would crush them to the ground.  Now that doesn’t sound very pleasant if you’re an Edomite.  Of course, some people today don’t think God would act in such a way because He is loving, tolerant, and accepting of all peoples.   That’s why some people think Malachi is misrepresenting God.   


This destruction of a nation by God demonstrates his greatness and is what Malachi is talking about, and what we sang about.  Israel and others would see God destroying Edom, and the devastation left from His wrath would show His greatness beyond Israel’s border.  Is this unpleasantness what you had in mind when you sang this song?  


This tells us something about God that many people today don’t want to accept. This tells us that God judges nations, and I believe history suggests that He doesn’t leave this judgment to the end of this age.  Over the centuries He has caused nations to rise and fall, and He is still behind the rise and fall of nations today.  Even though we’d like to think our western nations deserve God’s goodness,  there’s another side to the story. 


God does judge nations today as He did in Malachi’s day, and that includes our western nations.  He might well be in the process of  doing that right now.  Of course people of the world can’t see this.  They figure if there really is a loving God, He’d never do such a thing to them.  The thinking that God could never judge America was actually proclaimed by certain politicians in the U. S. election campaign of 2008.  But for those who understand Scripture, and attempt to have the mind of the Holy Spirit, we know that God still judges nations today.  Malachi prophesied some pretty devastating things concerning Israel and Edom, yet like many in our day, those people refused to believe God would do such dreadful things to them.  But He did.  History proves that.  So to be clear, if God does not judge, He is not just.  Yet since He is just, justice demands judgment. 


You might want to think about what you’re singing next Sunday morning. What you sing might not be what you mean to sing.  Some of us have stopped singing certain songs for this very reason.

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