What God Wants Remembered
Robert Wurtz II
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3:16–18 KJV)
Reading the Bible casts a tremendous amount of light upon what many people believe is Christianity. Take Malachi 3:16–18 for example. If I didn’t know better, I would think that some believers esteem it a virtue to be able to exist in this present evil world unvexed by the evil things they see happening. We should just take it quietly and never raise any kind of fuss or complain. Yet here is God ordering a book of remembrance to be made of the people who feared the LORD and spake often one to another concerning the blasphemous ways the people were acting. In the language of Peter, their righteous souls were vexed from day to day by the unlawful deeds of the wicked. God saw it in Lot; He saw it in the people in Malichi’s day; and He notices it now.
Notice our first statement, “Then they that feared the LORD…” This is the key. The fact that these Israelites feared God manifested in their speaking to one another about the craziness that was going on around them. “They strengthened themselves in their faith in Jehovah, as the holy God and just Judge who would in due time repay both the wicked and the righteous according to their deeds, and thus presented a great contrast to the great mass with their blasphemous sayings. This description of the conduct of the godly is an indirect admonition to the people, as to what their attitude towards God ought to be. What was done by those who feared Jehovah ought to be taken as a model by the whole nation which called Jehovah its God. Jehovah not only took notice of these conversations, but had them written in a book of remembrance, to reward them for them in due time.”
(Keil and Delitzsch)
Moreover, God took the whole event a step further. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. The behavior exhibited by these godly Israelites was such that God wanted them thought of as sons. That is to say, they had a zeal for God as a son would have for His own father. This is a powerful truth. The Hebrew word translated as “jewels” is translated otherwise as “treasure.” God treasures those who have a zeal for Him in this darkened, evil world.
|Photo Richard Lyons courtesy South Australian Museum
In 2003 a man in Australia unearthed, cleaned up and polished what has come to be known as the Virgin Rainbow. It is the most beautiful Opal in the world. Valued at roughly $1,000,000 it will go on display in a museum for the first time ever. “That opal actually glows in the dark,” museum director Brian Oldman told ABC North and West SA. “The darker the light, the more color comes out of it. It’s unbelievable.” This gem reminds me of Malachi 3:17. Perhaps this is akin to what God sees when He finds a saint(s) with a zeal for him in this dark world. People who have to talk among themselves just to be able to cope with all the madness that goes on.
What is more sobering is the last verse, “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” How did they distinguish themselves? What was their character? “It was the reverse of theirs that spoke so much against God; for they feared the Lord—that is the beginning of wisdom and the root of all religion; they reverenced the majesty of God, submitted to his authority, and had a dread of his wrath in all they thought and said; they humbly complied with God, and never spoke any stout words against him. In every age there has been a remnant that feared the Lord, though sometimes but a little remnant.” (Matthew Henry)
Sometimes it is hard to know who is and who is not truly serving the Lord. “At the bar of Christ, in the last judgment, it will be easy to discern between the righteous and the wicked; for then every man’s character will be both perfected and perfectly discovered, every man will then appear in his true colours, and his disguises will be taken off. Some men’s sins indeed go beforehand, and you may now tell who is wicked, but others follow after; however, in the great day, we shall see who was righteous and who wicked.” (M.H. ibid)
Someday it will be easy to determine who is who. All of our false notions and misconceptions will be done away with. Moreover, we will see God as He is — from from the mischaracterizations leveled upon Him by this present evil world. In an age when men call good evil and evil good — it can be tough to know who is truly doing right. Are the people who go on living among sin as if it’s business as usual the true saints or is it the people who are vexed bad enough to have to talk to brothers and sisters about it? Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.