Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ God’s Book of Remembrance

          I know what it is like to enjoy looking through a photo album and remembering people who have meant so much to me. Even with our daycare youngsters, they enjoy flipping through our photo albums and remembering children who used to be with us. Knowing what this is like makes this verse all the more remarkably wonderful:

16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. (Malachi 3)

          This continues the theme of those who tremble at the words of Jesus.[1] As we consider what this looks like for those who “fear the LORD and esteem his name,” we are also invited to consider what it is like for God himself to see this taking place in our lives.

          Which brings us to this fascinating introduction of “a book of remembrance”. In this book were written the names of those who trembled at the words of God. He saw who it was that spoke to one another out of their fear of God. He actually “paid attention” to them and “heard them”.

          Along with recording these people in his book of remembrance, God declared through the prophet how he felt about these people. He wanted them to know that “they shall be mine”, that these people were clearly going to be identified as his own people.

          However, he was identifying that this was in reference to a coming “day when I make up my treasured possession”. These people could expect good things from the LORD on that day. And, they could expect that it would then be very clear who it was who served God and who did not.

          This is of great encouragement during this lifetime when it is not clearly apparent who loves Jesus and who does not. At the time that the prophet Malachi wrote down this revelation from God, many people were self-dependently carrying out the outer demands of the law while enjoying the pleasures of the world. They looked very similar to those who were loving and serving God with hearts of true reverence and awe.

          What God revealed to those who feared him was that he was listening in to their talks about him, the Bible studies where people were talking to one another out of their fear and reverence and worship of God. He wanted them to know that he heard them as distinct from those who were just carrying out religious activities. He knew they were his, and he wanted them to know that being his meant they were his “treasured possession”.

          Jesus spoke of a day when every person will stand before him in judgment. He pictured some people as the sheep of his pasture, and the others as goats that did not belong to him. The sheep heard the sound of their Shepherd’s voice calling them into his presence forever, and they gladly followed him then as they had followed him during their earthly lifetime. The goats heard the sound of a stranger’s voice, the voice of someone they had never cared to know, and yet they were powerless to refuse him as he ordered them out of his presence forever.

          There will be days when those who belong to God are overwhelmed with the animosity of the world, the attacks of the devil, and the incessant harassment of their own flesh. We are given this paragraph from Malachi to encourage us that God has his book of remembrance holding us near to his heart as he prepares for that day that we will be seen as the beloved children of God we have been from before the beginning of time.

          From my heart,



[1] See Pastoral Ping, January, 30, 2013 ~ “Hearts that Tremble at Jesus’ Words”

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