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God’s Word for You

Malachi 3:17-18 God’s treasured possession

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 6, 2021

17 They will be mine, says the Lord of Armies, on the day I make them my treasured possession. I will spare them just as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then you will again see the distinction between a righteous person and a wicked person, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

These verses bring this chapter of Malachi to an end. In modern Hebrew editions, the verses we count as chapter 4 are simply numbered as chapter 3 verses 19-24.

There are three statements here that we should look carefully at, but they are all explained and governed by the first phrase: “They will be mine.” God will forever possess his people, his believers. This will be done through a possessing, redemptive act. Christ would buy us all back from the debt of our sins, and by paying the price for our sins, Jesus would purchase us for himself. “With your blood,” the twenty-four elders sing in heaven, “you purchased men from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). This is what we confess in the meaning of the Second Article: “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death” (Small Catechism).

Imagine for a moment that the police show up at your door, a SWAT team, the National Guard, and all the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. They arrest you and convict you on the spot for every crime committed in your town or city. You must pay every fine, every jail term, and they’re also going to execute you for someone’s murder sentence.

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? All those people get to go free because everything got assigned to you as your debt. That’s what Jesus has done for us all. He took up our debt, not just one town, but the whole world, and he paid the holy price with his life. This is how he made us his.

He made us his “treasured possession.” This is the word segulla, a special term for property. It is an ancient term, with a form that occurs in the Code of Hammurabi (1810-1750 BC) in the phrase, “to acquire a private fortune” (sakālu sikilta). Greek translations of this word use the phrase we see in the New Testament: “a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9), or “a people that are his very own” (Titus 2:14). This is a formal, public and sacred ownership. He will not let go of us because we are his sacred possession.

Malachi continues to quote God: “I will spare them just as a man spares his son.” This is a mystery that John described: “Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known” (1 John 3:2). God’s love for us means our adoption, each of us as a son who is an heir (regardless of age, or whether male or female). This was God’s plan from the beginning: “He predestined us to be his adopted sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:5). And so this is the answer to Jesus’ enigma: “Anyone who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will most certainly receive many times more in this age. And in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30). God’s love for us means our adoption, our purchase as his special, treasured possession.

On Judgment Day, this will be the distinction between “a righteous person and a wicked person, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” It will be most obvious to everyone through one important sign: the way God treats us. His treasured possession will be welcomed home to special places prepared for us; his Father’s house and its many mansions (John 16:1-4). The wicked will be thrown into everlasting torment (Luke 16:23,28). Then we all will truly know what the distinction is between the wicked who did not believe God and his beloved, treasured children.

He bought you at a price. Rejoice! You are God’s child forever and ever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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