"Father of all, in every age,
In every clime adored,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!")
For there is no hint given of any such meaning being intended; and, moreover, such a sentiment would be quite foreign to the Old Testament, which always represents heathen rites as being an utter abomination, and always speaks of the adhesion of the Gentiles to the worship of the true God as a thing of the future. We are compelled, therefore, to take the words as a prophetic announcement of the future rejection of Israel and calling of the Gentiles.
In every place.--In contradistinction to the one place (Deuteronomy 12:5-7). (Comp. our Lord's words to the woman of Samaria: John 4:21-24.)
Incense shall be offered . . .--This is a possible rendering of the words; but this Hebrew word is not elsewhere used for "incense," and may more naturally be rendered shall be burnt, as the passive participle of the verb used in Leviticus 1:9. Dr. Pusey's footnote on this passage is well worth reading, as, indeed, his footnotes usually are. We prefer, therefore, to take the words thus: "an oblation shall be burnt to my name, even a pure offering." In any case, unless we are to expect some future establishment of a universal offering of material sacrifices, we must understand both expressions in a spiritual sense, which is, in truth, the only reasonable way of interpreting such passages. (See Notes on Zechariah 2:6-13; Zechariah 3:8-10; Zechariah 6:9-15, and especially 14:16-21.) If, therefore, any Christians would claim this verse as a support for their custom of offering incense in churches, they must conform also with Zechariah 14:16-21, and go up every year to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. The word "offering," as in the preceding verse (comp. 1 Samuel 2:17; Isaiah 1:13), denotes sacrificial gifts in general, not the flour offerings as distinguished from the flesh offerings. The word "pure" is emphatic, not as signifying the bloodless sacrifice of the Mass (Council of Trent), as distinguished from the bloody sacrifices, but as the converse of "polluted" (Malachi 1:7). The above remarks we have made in no controversial spirit, but simply in the interests of truth; and lest any should suppose us to imply that the above interpretation was originated by the Council of Trent, we refer the reader to Dr. Pusey's Commentary, in which he shows, by quotations from SS. Justin, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and Augustine, as also from Tertullian, Eusebius, and Theodoret, that it is quod semper, quod ab omnibus, quod ubique. Those, therefore, who prefer so-called authority to the results of calm criticism are bound to disagree with us.
my name shall be great among the Gentiles; through the preaching of the Gospel, attended with the spirit and power of God to the conversion of many; whereby he himself is made known, and the perfections of his nature, and his several names, and particularly that of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus; who, as such, is called upon, and greatness and glory are ascribed unto him for the gift of his Son, and the mission of him into the world, to be the Saviour of Gentiles as well as of Jews:
and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name; some Jewish writers understand this of Israelites, the disciples of the wise men, studying in the law, and putting up their evening prayers to God, in every place where they live among the Gentiles; which are as acceptable to God as if they offered incense, and a pure offering; this way goes Jarchi, to which agrees the Targum; and this sense is given in the Talmud (n), and other writings of theirs; but Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, interpret it of the Gentiles, though in different ways, and foreign from the sense of the text; which is, that not in Jerusalem the worship of God should be as formerly, but in all places in the Gentile world, and where particularly prayer should be made to God; see John 4:20 comparable to incense for its fervency, fragrancy, and gratefulness, Psalm 141:2,
and a pure offering; meaning either the Gentiles themselves, their souls and bodies, Isaiah 66:20 or their sacrifices of praise, good works, and alms deeds Hebrews 13:15 which, though imperfect, and not free from sin, may be said to be "pure", proceeding from a pure heart, sprinkled by the blood of Christ, and offered in a pure and spiritual manner, and through the pure incense of Christ's mediation:
for my name shall be great among; the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts; which is repeated for the certainty of it.
(n) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 110. 1. Tanchuma apud Abarbinel in loc.