“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. ‘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. Then once more you shall see the distinction between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.’ ” Malachi 3:16-18 ESV
It’s not uncommon for those who try to live a Christian life, to live in a way that’s distinctly different from the world, and feel as though there is no use in continuing that effort. They see those who have no regard for God and His Word going through life with seemingly no great difficulty, and paying no immediate penalty for their sinful ways. Habakkuk asked a similar question in his prayer to God in the first chapter of the bible book attributed to him. “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” He too was feeling the frustration of not seeing God make the wicked pay for their sin, and seeing no reward for the righteous.
The promise here in Malachi is that in the LORD’s time; at the time when He determines, there will be a settling of accounts, and those who “feared the LORD and esteemed His name” will “make up my [God’s] treasured possession”. The end of my bible reading plan had me reading the last chapters of 4 different bible books at the same time; 2 Chronicles, Malachi, John and Revelation. I have to say, all of them ended with a hopeful look ahead to a day when God will set things right.
God is a perfectly just God and will not allow sin to go unpunished. That is a dreadful message to us except for the fact that God sent His Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Our sins are punished in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, if we have trusted and believed in Him. And because our sins have been dealt with through the blood of Christ there is great hope for us, and great reason to live in a way that honors the God in whose promises we trust.
One day we will see the day when the distinction between those who serve God and those who serve themselves will be obvious to all. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” And the apostle John in the book of Revelation, he concludes his thought on the great judgment with these words: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
I don’t write that to scare anyone, but to help you know that there is hope for the believer. There is a reason and purpose to living a godly life. There is a consequence for rejecting the offer of a holy God who loves you enough to send His Son to die in your place. The reward is very real for those who believe in Him, and the consequence is also very real for those who refuse Him. I hope this brief note finds you encouraged and not nervous.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen