Lord's Day Evening Meditations March 14, 2004

Malachi 3:16-18

"They That Feared The Lord"

In all the evil condition of things that was "The burden of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi," there were these few in verse 16 who had the Lord's approval; a few who were a refreshment to His heart. What did they do that made the Lord hearken and hear, and write a book of remembrance? Let's look again at those three things in verse 16. They

1) "feared the Lord,"

2) "spoke often one to another," and

3) "thought upon His (the Lord's) name."

As we consider this remnant as an example for us to follow, there is a similarity to notice. We are reading in the last book of the Old Testament and almost the last page. They lived at the end of a dispensation. Though there is about 400 years between Malachi and Matthew, Malachi was the last inspired utterance until the coming of John the Baptist. We also live at the end of a time period - the time of grace. Inspiration closed with the completion of the New Testament, so there will be no more inspired utterances before the Lord comes. Like them we live almost at the end of a time period - a difficult time then, and now, which really calls for the three things named above. The last time we had begun by considering the first of the three. I want to add a few thoughts to:

1) "They feared the Lord."

We have been seeing the spiritual condition among the people generally, which caused the Lord to speak to them through Malachi. They were offering blind, lame, and sick sacrifices; refusing to do anything for the Lord unless they got paid for it; dealing treacherously against God and against their wives; robbing God of His tithes and offerings, etc.; and then when they didn't receive the blessings they thought they were entitled to, they blamed God and said it was His fault! You see, here were people who plainly did not "fear the Lord." We can safely conclude, then, that those who "feared the Lord" did none of the evil things just listed, but rather tried to please Him in every way and to do His will.

We have seen also that there is a difference between "the fear of the Lord" in the Old Testament and in the New. In the Old, the fear was rather literal, whereas in the New, "The fear of the Lord" is founded on love, for we know and have received His love as revealed in His Son.

The second characteristic of those few faithful ones was that they

2) "spoke often one to another."

They lived in a very difficult time, for they were surrounded by others who were careless, indifferent, cold, and disobedient. In their efforts to be faithful, they found that everything was against them. How blessed it was for them to find a few who were likeminded! Here were some others who had the same fear, the same desires, the same purpose, the same exercises. They found that they had these things in common, and this drew them together, to speak together, and to encourage one another. They had a great need, and they found that which met their need in speaking often with others likeminded. In the New Testament we have a Scripture which tells us this very thing. Read Heb. 10:23 - 25. "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Those who spoke together in Malachi belonged to the same remnant of the same people, and they had similar needs and desires. However, we have a link that they knew nothing about. We are "members one of another," being all members of the body of Christ. As such we are joined together in a unity in which every member is needed by every other member. "The body of Christ" includes ever truly saved person on the earth. It may seem a little difficult to understand how a believer that I don't know, who lives in China, is helpful to me and I to him. The Lord has taken this into account in that He has given us a local assembly in which this truth takes on a more practical aspect. The local assembly is not the body of Christ, but, if scripturally gathered, it is the local expression of it. It is in this local context that the truth of "the body of Christ" becomes a practical thing, and the need that the members have of each other is realized. It is there that we can practice verses 23 - 25 in Hebrews 10. There are exceptional cases of some who do not have the privilege and blessing of a local assembly; to them the Lord gives special grace to walk alone.

I remember a story that goes back to the days of heating homes with coal, in England. A brother had been absenting himself from the meetings, and so another brother went to visit him. With the tongs he took a red-hot coal from the fire and set it by itself on the hearth. They both watched it as in a short time it lost its colour and became cold. The brother who had been missing meetings understood the message. When we meet together and "speak often one to another," we can help each other, in the warmth of divine love, to go on with the Lord. When alone, the danger is to grow cold and to get away. However, the exhortation is to "consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works." Sadly, sometimes the provocation is to anything but love.

When the enemy sees a company of believers going on happily in truth and love, he will make every effort to destroy them. How can he do that? If he raises opposition and persecution from the world, will that do it? No, that will only draw them closer together in a common purpose to be faithful. If he succeeds in introducing the activity of the flesh so that quarreling, bitterness and pride get in, will that destroy the assembly? Yes, unless the Lord steps in, that assembly will go to nothing. Do you see now the importance of "speaking often one to another" and of going on together with one purpose and one heart?

The third characteristic of that little company was that they

3) "thought upon His name."

In their conversations together they must have often spoken of the Lord's name. What a deep and fruitful subject for meditation! In chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 we saw how, seven times, the Lord referred to "My name." That shows how very important that is to Him, and if it is important to Him, then it should be important to us also. We'll consider a little the Lord's name in the Old Testament. We lose much in our English translation because we do not have words equivalent to the Hebrew. The meanings given here are very incomplete, but this

Hebrew name

English trans.

Meaning

Elohim -

God -

omnipotence &

sovereignty

Jehovah -

LORD -

self-existence &

revelation

El Shaddai -

Almighty God -

all sufficiency &

all bountifulness

Adonai -

Lord -

master

is only an example to show how different names give different aspects of His Person, differences which He revealed progressively, and which we lose in our translation. This also shows a little of how much there is to "think upon" in the Lord's name.

In the New Testament God has given us a full revelation of Himself in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn to John 1:1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Who is "the Word"? Verse 14 tells us that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," and then the chapter goes on to tell us about the Lord Jesus. The last verse of John 1 speaks about "the Son of Man." Now here is something for you to do. In this chapter I have given you the first name used to refer to the Lord, and the last one; find all the other names given to Him in between. As you do this you will be "thinking upon His name" - a very profitable occupation.

Going back to Malachi 3 we know that the Lord approved of what that little remnant was doing because He "hearkened and heard it," and He put it all on record in "a book of remembrance." If we do like they did, He will not fail to see and hear, and record it also. r S.L.