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God’s Word for You

Malachi 4:4 Remember

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

4 Remember the law of my servant Moses, which I commanded to him at Horeb to serve as statutes and judgments over all Israel. (EHV)

“Remember” has three functions in this verse. First, to remember the Law of Moses is to keep it in the memory. To remember the law is to review it, talk about it, and keep it in the heart. During the years when my children were learning their catechism, we read the six parts of the catechism over and over again, one little piece each evening before our dinner prayer. Later we got into the habit of remembering Bible stories or even playing Bible trivia games: “Name a story where someone keeps the Sixth Commandment in a Godly way.” “Name someone who lived before the Flood who was not in the line of the Savior.” “List five important parts of the Tabernacle.” “Everyone tell a Bible story with a bird in it.” But we found that it’s good to go back and review the catechism together at least once a year: The Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Keys (forgiveness of sins), Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.

Second, to remember the Law of Moses is to keep it with one’s life. We want to show our love for God with our obedience to his will. For Malachi’s people, the law and its sacrifices pointed ahead to Christ, and the people’s obedience to the law was everything. Someone who did not obey was to be cut off from the people, whether an Israelite made an error violating the commandments (Exodus 31:14), or anyone breaking the fellowship laws (Leviticus 7:20), or anyone making a sacrifice in an improper place (Leviticus 17:8-9), or anyone turning to witchcraft, the occult, or to horoscopes (Leviticus 20:6). For all of us who live after the time of Christ, we must remember that our obedience is an act of faith. We do not enter into eternal life in heaven on account of our own obedience, righteousness, or good works. I do not have “a righteousness of my own that comes from the law” (Philippians 3:9a). My righteousness comes from faith in Christ, “the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:9b). In fact, the Scriptures warn that anyone who seeks to establish their own righteousness “does not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Romans 10:3-4). This means that we must not go shopping around for another Christ, or thinking that we can accomplish for ourselves what Christ did. We let Jesus be Jesus the Messiah, the Christ. And our obedience to God’s will is one way that we thank God for what Jesus did.

Third, to remember the Law of Moses is to use the law as a mirror in my life to show my sins and to remember my need for a Savior. Here is where I see the sin in my life, because my memory and understanding of the Law of Moses shows just how far from God’s will I have strayed away.

I might ask: Have I broken the First Commandment? Then I must answer: I have loved my own desires more than God’s will and God’s law. I have resisted parts of God’s law, if not all of it, which puts me above God in my heart. That makes me an idolater. I myself am the graven image forbidden in the First Commandment (Exodus 20:4). And we can walk all the way through the long corridor of the Ten Commandments and find ways in which we have broken each one without scratching the surface very deeply. Truly, if we meditate on any commandment for any length of time, we will see dozens, scores, and hundreds of ways we break each commandment each day, and then the depth of our guilt will begin to horrify us. There will be nothing beneath our feet but the yawning abyss of hell, asking and asking to devour my soul for all eternity in agonizing punishment for what I have done as my own golden idol like Nebuchadnezzar’s giant 90-foot image on the Plain of Dura (Daniel 3:1).

Then Christ comes to me again through his word, not in the convicting, condemning law, but in the relieving gospel. He comes with the soothing medicine of compassion and comfort. He comes with healing. He comes with pardon and peace. He comes with such reassurance that in my joy for his forgiveness, I want to show my thanks with the way I live. This is our remembrance of the Law of Moses. Keep the law in your heart. Show your thanks for Christ with your life, and let the law reveal your sins, remembering Christ your Savior in joy and in peace.

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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