As in all the prophetic books of the Bible, the Lord through Malachi provides encouragement to his faithful followers in the midst of scathing rebukes to the unfaithful. Malachi 3:16-18 provides a glimpse of the conduct of God’s saints in the last days when he says,
Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
Were you aware that God is eavesdropping on our conversations when we discuss things to encourage each other in the faith? It doesn’t matter if we say it in a letter, email, blog post, face-to-face conversation, sign language, podcast, phone conversation, TV or radio broadcast, or whatever. When this specific passage is laid out in Malachi, v. 16 starts with the word “Then”–denoting a certain time or situation when believers spoke often to each other.
The previous verses, v. 13-15, tell us when that is. True saints of God speak to each other more often when the majority of society have “stout” or strong words against Jehovah, when the phony religious people among us forsake God (whether they still keep attending church as a social club but don’t put God’s word into practice or if it’s a matter of them leaving church to go back to the world), and when society calls pride happiness or the wicked blessed or calls those who test God “saved.”
In the midst of all those negative influences, even if they have to leave the “organized church” to go underground, God’s saints stand firm in faith to encourage each other in the Lord more often. Jehovah is pleased with us so much as we continue to reverence and think on his name that he created a book of remembrance for us in our honor (v. 16). He openly claims us as his own, putting the final touches on us on judgment day–the day when he will “make up” his jewels–and spare us his wrathful judgment, as a compassionate father does for his son. The phrase “make up” in scripture means to build and fortify. The Lord sees us as his jewels, his peculiar treasure, to be cut and polished for future perfection. We are truly his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
I, personally, would have been satisfied to be honored in his book of remembrance, but to have him go even further to consider someone as unpolished and tainted as me as his jewel–that’s just overwhelming in a very humbling way. As a result of our faithfulness and the honor we receive from the Lord, v. 18 tells us some who may have fallen away will return and discern. This passage is for all who dare to tell us we have no right to judge or that only God can judge. Returning to the Lord on a regular basis, seeking his counsel, provides us with the power and the right to make judgment calls to distinguish between who or what is righteous and who or what is wicked, as well as making the distinction between those who serve God and those who don’t. May God be glorified in our discernment as he records us in his book of remembrance.