The Lamb of God Theme: Seventh Model

Lamb of GodAbridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Model Seven: Malachi the Prophet – Malachi 1:11, 4:5 – 400 B.C.

An Observation: As I was doing some research on Malachi’s prophecy, I was led back to the sacrifice of Melchisedech; that of bread and wine around 2000 B.C. Note that Melchisedech was the king of Salem (later Jerusalem) and a priest of God who offered bread and wine as an unbloody sacrifice in thanksgiving for Abraham’s victory over the four eastern kings (Gen. 4:18-20). Because he was a type of Christ (both kings and priests who offer bread and wine to God), an antiphon in the rite of Ordination for a priest reads: “Christ the Lord, a priest forever in the line of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.” In the first Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, the priest prays that God will accept his offerings just as He once accepted “the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.” __ The Catholic Replies Book, C.R. Publications, Norwood, MA 02062

This King of Salem is a mysterious figure who saluted Abram before God magnified his name to Abraham. It is therefore a very ancient incident in God’s plan which has perdured most prominently in our Catholic Liturgy of the Lamb of God Sacrifice. It points to the real Lamb of God as “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.”

Malachi’s prophecy is not as popular a subject as it was in the first half of the 20th century, what I like to call the Golden Era of the Catholic Church in the USA and maybe the world. In those days, probably because of the stricter Eucharistic fast, daily Mass was usually scheduled quite early in the morning. Before receiving Holy Communion, the true Lamb of God, we had to abstain from all food and drink, even water, beginning at midnight. Because this encouraged having Mass as early as possible after daybreak, Malachi’s words were often quoted in our missals:

“. . . from the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation: for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.” __ Mal. 1:11

Because this last of the Old Testament prophets described it as a clean oblation (to the Jews a ‘clean’ oblation was an ‘unbloody’ offering), artists illustrated our text books with the picture of a Catholic priest raising the chalice of the Mass up to the crucifix which, at that time, was immediately before him, hanging either from the ceiling above him or from the wall in front of him.

Malachi spoke these prophetic words: “Behold I will send you Elias (Elijah) the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (Mal. 4:5)” They have great importance when compared to the words of the angel Gabriel to Zachary at the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist: “And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.” __ Luke 1:16,17

Thus Melchisedech’s “bread and wine sacrifice” is the beginning of another theme used by God; for example, the bread and wine of the Passover Meal (Cf. Ex. 12). This theme and the Lamb of God Theme run together in Mal. 4:5 above. These two themes flow together in the valley of time to swell the fullness of our understanding of God’s Eternal Plan. For now in his passage in Malachi 4:5 we see that the “clean offering” (which we now know to be Christ under the form of bread and wine) is beginning to take shape. And in Luke 1:16 the stage is set for John the Baptist (in the spirit and power of Elias) clearing the way for our Redeemer: making straight the path of our Lord, especially with the baptisms performed on the people. The Preparatory work for Christ’s revelation and God’s greatest gift to mankind is almost complete.

My Notes on this Abridgement of Father Hamburger’s text on the Lamb of God Theme in the Bible:

Father had a very strong devotion to Our Lady and here at this point in his work he seemed to stray from the theme. Father and I had several debates about this because it did not fit with the theme on the Lamb of God. I could not get him to give it up and it is mostly useful to those who actually knew the father and not of a great deal of use to those who didn’t. I say that because his use of language, within these chapters, sounds just like him.

Therefore I will omit his inserted Chapter which he called: Mary’s M & M’s which referred to her Memories and Melodies. He wrote this in a fictitious novella style and included the character of Luke because his Gospel was the only one to record the “melodies” that father wanted to illuminate us with: The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), and the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-75).

Although I would suggest that we all get to know these three beautiful verses that have been sung in the Church almost from the beginning, there is no Lamb of God significance per se. Therefore, to keep on theme, I have decided to omit his private meditations that produced this conversation between Our Lady, Luke and others.

Forgive me Father: but I did let you print it your way the first time. I hope you don’t mind that I take liberties with the work for this internet Bible study. God bless you and I am sure Our Lady has taken good care of you since you departed this life. May you now be singing with her and the angelic choirs in Heaven!

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