Much of the Book of Malachi compares and contrasts God’s blessings to Israel’s whining. For example, as we have seen, the Lord reminded the nation that He loved them. But Israel retorted, “Wherein hast thou loved us, Lord?” God answered, “Haven’t you seen the difference in my blessings on Jacob and on Esau? After this introduction, the Lord took over asking the questions, and Israel whimpered their responses. Malachi 2:7: “Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, WHEREIN have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” The word “wherein” is spoken in rebellion six times in this book. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, WHEREIN have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Here in chapter one, God says, “If I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, WHEREIN have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, WHEREIN have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.” It is this childish, whining, rebellion which makes this book relevant today. Despite all our technology and toys, mankind is still saying, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” We want more.
I know that we looked at this already, but consider once again the difference between Israel and Edom. For thousands of years now, God has blessed the children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses – Israel. Sure, they have been chastised and corrected like disobedient children, but God has not disowned them. All the promises which Jehovah made to their fathers will be perfectly and literally kept, despite the fact that today they are no longer in the spotlight. Remember, today isn’t the first time they have been put on the shelf. During those years of captivity in Babylon and Assyria, Israel felt forsaken by God, but they were not. Their current “captivity” has been much longer, but God is faithful and will keep His word to those people.
On the other hand, God, the righteous Judge has hated and condemned the children of Esau. During the days of the Old Testament, there was a slim border between the children of Esau and the children of Jacob. But life on either side of that border was as different and distinct as night and day.
Several times Judy and I have driven down I-25 along the Rio Grande River into El Paso, Texas. As we neared the city, we could look across the river into the suburbs of Juarez, Mexico. The difference between the northern communities of El Paso on our left, and Juarez on our right was much like the difference between Israel and Edom. That boundary in Biblical times became a proverb known as: “the border of wickedness.” And Edom itself became proverbial: “The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.”
With the words “Wherein hath thou loved us?” still ringing in their ears, the prophet of God told Israel, “Your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.” God said, “If you will keep your eyes open, you will eventually come to recognize my blessings upon you. And on the Israelite side of the border, Jehovah will be praised and magnified.”
For a few minutes this evening, let’s leave the deep things of God and have a simple word study. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Malachi uses a very good word in regard God’s worship. “The Lord will be MAGNIFIED from the border of Israel.” In what ways? How is it that Israel shall magnify God? And if Israel should magnify the Lord; shouldn’t we Gentiles who have been so abundantly blessed?
Before we get to the Hebrew, just think for a moment about the English word “magnify.”
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary tells us that “magnify” comes from two Latin words: “facio” and “magnus;” “to make” and “great.” Together they refer to enlarging something; making it bigger; to increase something’s dimensions. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of Malachi, uses the word “huperano” or “hyper high.” But let’s just stop and think about the English word.
In the late 16th century a Dutch father-son team named Janssen invented the first compound microscope. They discovered that, if they put lenses at both the top and the bottom of a tube and looked through it, objects on the other end were seen as much larger. William Tyndale may not have known about the microscope, but the King James translators may have. The botanists and physiologists of their day may have often been putting small things beneath their microscopes and “magnifying” them in their eye-sight. Was that in the back of our translators’ minds?
Whether that was so or no, there is Bible precedent to say that no matter what of God we might study, over time, our consideration and recognition will grow. We are so myopic, so near-sighted, so misty-eyed, our eyes are so cataract-covered that we have not yet begun to see the greatness and magnificence of our Saviour. The more we know of God’s grace, the greater God’s grace will appear to be. The more we know of God’s justice, the more just we will understand it to be. I believe that we don’t see a single attribute of God as it really is in majesty and glory. Jehovah is infinite, and because of this, a million years in the perfections of glory, will not be enough for us to begin to understand Him. We have not yet really touched the hem of His garment. We won’t tire singing the same old songs of praise to the Lord, because constant new revelation about Him, will inspire streams of new songs.
Some saints may think that some aspects of the Lord are small and unimportant. But one day, perfected hearts, regenerated spiritual eye-sight, and a perfect environment, will make the smallest things of the Lord to appear ginormous. “The Lord WILL BE magnified from the border of Israel.”
What about the Hebrew word which Malachi uses here?
It isn’t a particularly special word in itself. “Gadal” (gaw-dal’) is found in the Bible one hundred fifteen times. Sometimes the word is used in regard to human things, and sometimes it is used of the Lord. That it is translated a number of ways, might help us to understand the significance of the word. And understanding the word should assist us in our worship of God.
The first time the word is used, it comes from the lips of the Lord. In speaking to Abram, Jehovah used it twice in one sentence, and if you know your Hebrew, you know this is for the purpose of emphasis. Genesis 12:2: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and MAKE (gadal) thy name GREAT (gadal); and thou shalt be a blessing and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the be blessed.” Reversing that from Abraham back to the Lord, as God’s people learn more and more about their Saviour, His name will be more and more magnified. Not that it will be necessary, but Heaven will be filled with people turning to their neighbors to tell them of all the new things they have learned about God. I say, “it won’t be necessary,” because those neighbors will be just as excited to share and to magnify what they have learned.
David uses our word in II Samuel 7:22 when he praises God with: “Thou art GREAT, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears… And let thy name be MAGNIFIED for ever…” Psalm 40:16 and then again in Psalm 70:4 we read, “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be MAGNIFIED. ” Obviously “Let the Lord be magnified,” speaks of praising Him – giving Him the glory which is His due.
An interesting use of the word is found in Genesis 21 where, in speaking of baby Isaac, the Bible says “the child GREW” – the body of child was magnified through growth. And do you remember Daniel 1, where Daniel and his friends were sequestered in the king’s palace. Verse 5 says, “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat… so NOURISHING them three years that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.” “Nourishing them” is the same Hebrew word, and of course, it speaks of feeding and causing to grow. Again, Israel, and we ourselves, should find an unending source of material about which to praise Jehovah. Not only in this world, in the borders of Israel, but in Heaven, throughout eternity, the Lord will feed us with Heavenly manna which will cause us to grow with wonder and praise.
When Israel was begging Samuel to give them a king, so they could be like the neighboring countries, the prophet of God felt somewhat wounded. But he offered some instruction and encouraged the people to continue to serve the Lord. And at one point he added, “Fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how GREAT THINGS he hath done for you.” Consider those “gadal” blessings of the Lord. That word is used over and over again to describe the great works of God. Psalm 92:5: “O LORD, how GREAT are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.” Psalm 104:1: “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art VERY GREAT; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.” Psalm 26:2: “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done GREAT THINGS for them.” Psalm 126:3: “The LORD hath done GREAT THINGS for us; whereof we are glad. Remember, each of these “greats” are elsewhere translated “to magnify.”
The works of God in salvation are particular blessings of “magnifical grace.” “Magnifical” was a common and useful word in the 1700s when more people knew their Bibles, but it slowly died in the 19th century, until only King James users use it today. 1 Chronicles 22:5: “And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be EXCEEDING MAGNIFICAL, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it.” Most modern translations render that word “exceedingly magnificent.” The works of the Lord are exceeding magnifical, because the Lord Himself exceeds everything magnificent. And as far as salvation is concerned, David said in II Samuel 22, “ He is the TOWER of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.” In that verse “tower” is “gadal.”
An important reference in regard to this word, and the Lord, is found in Genesis 41:40. Joseph had just interpreted the dream of Pharaoh, and had given to the king some very sage counsel about an upcoming seven-year famine. The Lord then laid on Pharaoh’s heart to set Joseph as governor over the economy of the nation, and thus Joseph became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Pharaoh told the young man, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be GREATER than thou.” No matter how “gadal” some people are in this world, there is always One who is greater. Jehovah is the King of kings and Lord of lords; He is greater than the greatest. He is to be magnified more than most magnificent in the world. When Israel eventually comes to see and obey Malachi’s prophecy, that nation will cast down all her idols – her military, her scientific accomplishments, her envied economy. When Malachi’s words are fully enacted, Israel will have gone through the Great Tribulation, and been knocked to her knees once again. Then, only then, will “The Lord will (really) be magnified from the border of Israel.”
One of the reasons Israel should magnify the Lord is explained in Psalm 138:2. The Psalmist sings, “I will praise thee with my whole heart; before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast MAGNIFIED thy word above all thy name.” “The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel,” because He will keep all His promises to that nation. And it to this that Malachi was referring.
Our Saviour will also be magnified by God’s saints throughout eternity for the same reason. Learn to magnify the Lord within the border of your life today. One day soon, the Lord will increase those borders, and our praise will know no bounds. But today, even today in the midst of our earthly trials and problems, there are an infinite number of reasons to say, “The Lord be magnified.”