God’s Word for You
Malachi 3:16 A Book of Remembrance
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, May 5, 2021
16 Then those who fear the LORD spoke with each other. The LORD gave them his attention and listened. A book of remembrance was written in front of him for those who fear the LORD and have regard for his name.
Suddenly, the mood of the book changes. God no longer speaks threats and judgments, but listens to those who fear him and put their trust in him. He “gave them his attention.” Who are these who feared him? Are they a separate group? No, not necessarily. The whole point of God’s earlier threats was to turn the people back to him in repentance, and this is the reason for the change in the mood of Malachi’s message. The word of God has done its work. Some of the people have indeed repented and turned to God in faith because they trust in his promises.
These people “spoke with each other.” Christians share their faith to encourage one another. When I have repented, I want to share the forgiveness given to me with the people I love. Malachi knows that he is not alone, just as Elijah wasn’t alone but was told about the seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal, including young Elisha (1 Kings 19:18-19). And now those people were sharing the gospel together, building one another up in the face of adversity, while so many people around them were still asking, “What’s the point?”
God was listening. Malachi says that a “Book of Remembrance” was written down in front of God (by an angel, who else?) “for those who fear the Lord and have regard for his name.” The contents of this book are not as clear as its purpose. Some think that the book was made of up names, not righteous deeds such as the books of the Persian king’s chronicles (Esther 6:1-2). Luther thought that God himself might be writing in the book, that it was “what they are saying to each other, those who comfort each other” (LW 18:416). This would be God recording the gospel of the words of his faithful people, something to be read for God’s delight on the Last Day when he assigns the members of his holy Church their various degrees of heaven. In that case it would be a book not only of names but also of words, and perhaps some deeds as well.
They show their faith by their “regard for his name.” This is in direct contrast to the former attitude, “contempt for his name” (Malachi 1:6). This is a basic building block of faith: “In your name I will hope, for your name is good” (Psalm 52:9). And it is the application of the Second Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). This shows that how we speak to one another is an important tool for our faith. “Since you have put away the lie, each of you must speak the truth to his neighbor, for we are members of each other” (Ephesians 4:25). Speaking the truth of Christ with each other is what we do (Zechariah 8:16; Colossians 1:5). It’s the function of the Holy Christian Church. We share the message of Christ, lead one another to repentance and the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:15), instruct the young and the new convert, and proclaim our God in spoken word and in music. This is what we do for one another. It’s a life of worshipful living, a living faith, an active obedience out of love for our Lord.
Pastor Timothy Smith