“At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” Malachi 3:16-18 (HCSB)
During the time period in which Malachi lived, things were a mess to say the least. In addition to political upheaval, social disorder and obvious moral decay, the spiritual lives of the children of Israel were certainly lacking. Rebellion seemed to rule the day. The Israelites had given themselves over to sin and questioning the love and goodness of God in the process. Even the Priest were complicit and religious practice had grown so corrupt that God, speaking through His prophet, stated in the very first chapter that it would be better to just close the doors of the Temple than to continue own as is.
That’s a serious charge.
All that being said, there was a remnant. There was a small number of Israelites who had not forsaken the God of their fathers. It was a minority that continued to strive in righteousness and worship the Lord with their lips and lives. In the midst of depravity, there were a few who stood out due to their love for God. From a historical perspective, there always is.
I’m convinced that much like the days of Malachi, things today are a hot mess. I see it. You see it. Depravity on full display! The reason is the same., “They did not fear God” (read chapter 3 in its entirety for context). That lack of fear (reverential awe and respect) isn’t only obvious concerning the larger culture but sadly, within His church as well. Truth be told, as I listened to the interviews from the Eagles head coach and starting QB after their Super Bowl victory last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if they said more about Jesus in the snippets of time they had in front of the camera than many pastors said about Him during the entirety of their sermons Sunday morning. There’s such a flippancy about faith that I sometimes wonder if God has said the same thing about many places of worship that He said about the Temple of Malachi’s day…”It’d be better to shut the doors”.
I’m also joyfully convinced that there is another similarity to Malachi’s day – a remnant. I believe that there is a small but passionate minority of people within todays world who walk with God. I believe that somewhere amongst the weeds grows wheat. For that, I am so grateful…and optimistic!
We know what God thinks of the weeds. There’s a day coming in which our God, as judge, will separate the wheat and weeds. It won’t be pretty but rest assured, one day EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess Jesus as Lord.
But what does God think of the remnant? The small number of people who are on the narrow road that leads to life? He tells us through Malachi 3:16-18
He explains that the remnant is different. In verse 16, He cites that there are still those who “fear God”. That fear makes us different. It makes us distinguishable. Some might say that it makes us weird.
King Solomon, who Jesus considered the wisest man who ever lived, tells us that it is the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. That fear (again…reverential awe and respect) marks the lives of those who are part of the remnant. It makes us different. Our worldview is different. Our attitudes are different. Our demeanor is different. Our standards, actions, words, on and on…are different due to our fear of God…and that’s a good thing.
You see, the remnant holds the Word of God in highest esteem. They believe it in it’s entirety and rightly consider it completely authoritative over every aspect of their lives. This shapes everything and most certainly makes us different. Right and wrong aren’t determined by the winds of culture, popular opinion, government legislation or even deep personal emotion to those who belong to the remnant. Morality isn’t up to us as it’s already been established by the only one who has authority to establish it, God Himself. The remnant believes that. This world does not. This makes the remnant different.
It also makes them despised. This is no surprise as the Holy Scriptures explain to us that we’d be despised and rejected because we follow Jesus. In fact, He said that “this world will hate you because of Me”. In the New Testament, we’re told that we should “expect” fiery trails to come upon us due to the difference that Jesus has made in our lives.
The weeds consider the wheat to be archaic, close-minded , hate filled and ignorant because of their devotion to God and belief that His Word is Holy and authoritative. That’s ok. God considers the wheat to be different due to our fear of Him. His opinion is the only one that truly matters.
God also says about the remnant…we are connected. In verse 16, He states that those who feared the Lord “spoke to one another“. As I read that, it speaks to me of a unique connection shared among Gods people. The remnant is an interdependent bunch who all have the same blood running through their veins, the precious blood of the lamb who was slain for the remission of their sins. We’re family. Eternally connected to one another through our shared Savior and King, Jesus Christ.
Families love one another, encourage one another, weep together and rejoice together. Families love to gather. Faithfully gathering with God’s people to worship Him corporately is a mark of the remnant. I know this isn’t popular opinion but according to Gods Word (which I’ve mentioned is authoritative over said opinion) show me a able bodied professing Christian who isn’t joyfully and faithfully engaged in the life of a local, Bible believing Church and I’ll show you one who, at best, is backslidden and living in rebellion (Hebrews 10:25 “Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that“) or at worst is really a weed (1st John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us“).
God’s people are connected!
You know what else God says about His remnant? He says that they are noticed. Our text continues and says that those different people who are connected to one another through Him, “The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name”.
The Lord NOTICED them as they cared for one another. As they loved well! Not only did He notice but a record was kept! Christian, please remember that even if you never hear a word of thanks or receive a encouraging pat on the back for your service and devotion…if your sincere and heartfelt care and concern for your fellow man is never even acknowledged…please KNOW…The God of the nations noticed. Crowns await.
As God continues to speak through His prophet concerning the remnant, He adds that we are valuable. Listen to His words, “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession”
A special possession! That’s what God thinks of you, Christian. The original wording of his text conveys the idea that God considers His people to be jewels. Think about that. Jewels are rare. Gravel is everywhere but diamonds are few and far between, that’s what makes them precious. As part of the small remnant of Christians, you sir or ma’am are a diamond in Gods eyes. Jewels are also diverse. There are no two just alike. All shapes, sizes and colors. The diversity is part of their beauty. Jewels are also costly. Christian, YOU were costly. You are not your own, but BOUGHT with a price. God gave His only begotten son to die so that you may live.
Christian brother or sister, you are valuable. Don’t forget that.
Lastly, God considers His people to be safe. Now I know that there will be some push back here as we read stories of persecution, sometimes even severe, of those who belong to Jesus. Considering this very real threat, one might say, “Safe? A Christian in todays culture is anything but safe!”.
Stop for a moment and think about what God said about His people in our text: “a special possession on the day I am preparing. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. So you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him”.
When I say that Gods people are safe, I say it with this is mind…God is preparing a day for His people. A day like no other. A day when the lion will lie down with the lamb, where sin will no longer be a struggle, sickness will be eradicated, every tear will be wiped from our eyes and the great marriage supper of the Lamb will be hosted. As a part of the remnant, these things are a sure promise, no matter what I face in this world, No persecution, famine or sword can negate this promise. Even death, which has lost it’s sting, is powerless over this truth. “But some are killed for their belief in Christ!”, some might say. Yes, and blessed are the persecuted. If the worst that can happen to a believer is the loss of this fleeting life, to trade the corruptible for the incorruptible? I say praise God! For to live is Christ and to die in gain! To be absent from this body is to be present with our Lord.
Christian, no matter what, you are forever safe in the arms of Jesus. Remember that.