Weekly Word from Bro. David
January 12, 2017
From The Pastor's Heart:
As we continue in the book of Malachi today we come to Malachi 3:16-18. Throughout this entire OT book, we see God's people Going Through the Motions. They don't love God, worship Him, serve Him, or obey Him but they think because they're outwardly religious that it's enough. It's not enough. And God calls Malachi to confront these apathetic and hypocritical people.
But there's a bright spot in this book. In the midst of all the judgment and darkness, there is a ray of hope. In the midst of all the “arrogant evildoers” the Bible reveals another group of people. They are “those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name.”
God had rebuked the priests and the people for “profaning” or “despising” His name (1:6,11) and this entire prophecy has been spoken against those who disregarded the Lord. But here, it is revealed that there are still those who worship the Lord.
No matter how dark it gets, there are still those who fear the Lord. There are still those who trust the Lord. The Bible tells us that they are recorded in The Book of Remembrance. 16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name. 17 "They shall be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him." 18 Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.
Aren't you thankful that God doesn't forget His children? In fact, the Bible tells us something very unique and interesting here. It talks about a “book of remembrance” that contains the names of “those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” Today we want to see why the book was created.
The Bible tells us of those who heard the word of the Lord and questioned it. In fact, they continually challenged and pushed back against the accusations and charges God brought against them. But now, we see a different response. 16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.
This is the first time we have read of a positive response to the words of the Lord through the prophet Malachi. Up to this point the responses have all been negative, as the people have doubted, questioned, and rejected God's words. But as at all times among God's people, there is a 'remnant', those within the people of God who do respond to God's words with faith and obedience. These are those who “feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”
The Bible also says that these faithful followers of God “spoke with one another.” They spoke to one another concerning the God they feared. They encouraged each other to follow faithfully, “all the more as you see the day approaching.” When iniquity was bold and barefaced, the people of God took courage, and stirred up themselves. The worse others are, the better we should be; when vice is daring, let not virtue be sneaking. As evil communication corrupts good minds and manners, so good communication confirms them.
So, God had a “book of remembrance.” The picture is of the divine King surrounded by his heavenly servants instructing a scribe to record an event in the royal archives. The word “remember,” occurs 24 times in the Hebrew Bible and refers to a reminder, either a memorial day, a symbolic object, or a record, as here. Records of decisions, actions, accomplishments, and various memorable events were kept by royal officials in the ancient world.
“Remember” often implies an action or appears in combination with verbs of action, and some passages equate God's remembering with his mercy and forgiveness.
When God “remembers” a person, it almost always entails his action on their behalf. The point in Malachi is that God has instructed that a record be made of the righteous speech of “those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.” This memorandum will insure that on the future day described in the following verses they will be rewarded.
And the Bible tells us here that the way God will remember is through a book that included the names of the faithful. Now, there are scholars who disagree about whether this book is figurative, a metaphor; or literal, it actually exists. Before I give you my opinion, let me say this. We shouldn't miss the point: God remembers those who are faithful to Him and acts to reward them graciously.
The fact that a heavenly record of some sort is also referred to several times elsewhere may suggest that this is more than just a metaphor. The Bible, however, mentions several different kinds of heavenly records. “The book of life” is mentioned in the OT and is called simply “the book” in Daniel 12:1. It records the names of the righteous in a heavenly census, the purpose of which is to identify those entitled to the privileges and blessings of heavenly citizenship. According to Rev 13:8 and 17:8 the names are recorded “from the creation of the world.” Similar to this is “your book” in Ps 139:16, which contains God's decreed plan for the days of David's life, recorded before his birth. These “books” all have to do with one's destiny. On the other hand, “the books” in Daniel 7:10 include a record of the sins of the “little horn” and those associated with him. “The scroll of the LORD” Isaiah 34:16 contains God's decreed judgments on a rebellious world. In Rev 20:12, John saw a scene of universal judgment and alluded to both Daniel 7:10 and 12:1-2 in his description: “The dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
God apparently keeps two sets of books. The book of divine decrees and the book of human deeds- divine sovereignty and human responsibility-meet in this verse. Both books establish the same verdict based on different data regarding individual lives. Malachi's “book of remembrance” is not a book of decrees because it is written after the event. On the other hand, it is a record of the deeds of the righteous rather than of the wicked. Not only will judgment be meted out to the wicked according to their deeds, but the deeds of the righteous will also be rewarded. Although God will not remember our sins, he will remember our righteous acts (including our speech) as well as our tears.
Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton told of the harassed man who entered the office of a psychiatrist, ''Doctor, I can't remember a thing from one minute to the next.''
''Since when has this been going on?'' asked the psychiatrist.
''Since when has what been going on?''
No matter how dark you think it is or how many problems you may be facing, God remembers you. He has you written down in His book. He sees your thoughts, your speech, and your actions. He knows your heart. This book was created as a reminder, not that God forgets, but that we need to be reminded God recognizes, sees, knows, and cares. Next week we will continue and see what the book contained in vs. 17.