3. A Remnant which Honours God's name



A Remnant Which Honours God’s Name
 

Malachi 3:16-4-6

16 Then those who feared and loved the Lord spoke often of him to each other. And he had a Book of Remembrance drawn up in which he recorded the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.
17 “They shall be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in that day when I make up my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares an obedient and dutiful son. 18 Then you will see the difference between God’s treatment of good men and bad, between those who serve him and those who don’t.
Chapter 4
“Watch now,” the Lord Almighty declares, “the day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. The proud and wicked will be burned up like straw; like a tree, they will be consumed—roots and all.

2 “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. 3 Then you will tread upon the wicked as ashes underfoot,” says the Lord Almighty. 4 “Remember to obey the laws I gave all Israel through Moses my servant on Mount Horeb.
5 “See, I will send you another prophet like Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful judgment day of God. 6 His preaching will bring fathers and children together again, to be of one mind and heart, for they will know that if they do not repent, I will come and utterly destroy their land.”

The Living Bible


So we come to the third, and final part of our journey through the Book of Malachi.
As many of you know this is one of my favourite Books in the Bible, since it was opened up to me at the Keswick Convention many years ago. Two weeks ago the theme was: “A Nation Which Has Forgotten God’s Love” . Then last week it was the turn of the leaders to come into the spotlight, as we considered “A Priesthood Which Ignores God’s Laws.

Both these sections were inclined to be, or actually WERE more negative, where God’s messenger (Malachi) had some strong things to say, but running all the way through the Book is the hope and love of the Lord. I’m sure that Malachi, as God’s messenger, didn’t enjoy delivering this rather blunt message, but that’s what he had to do, and he was faithful in doing it.

Yes, he had reminded the nation that they had forgotten God’s love, even though they were His own special possession. And yes, he had challenged the priests because they had led the people astray, and not taught them the way of the Lord. He had also shown them up for offering second best, and the pretence of their offering to God.

Now this third section is much more positive, and he encourages those who had remained faithful, giving them a picture of what was to come. Look at chapter 3:16:
“Then those who had feared the Lord talked together with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.”
There was just a remnant who had remained faithful. We’re not told if they were priests, or ‘ordinary’ people, although hopefully it was both, but whoever they were, they were faithful! The clear implication here is that they had NOT forgotten God’s Love, and still saw themselves as the people whom the Lord loved as His very own.

And in our own day, when we Christians (that is, those who are in a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ) are an ever-increasing minority, we must remain faithful to God and His love, seeking to live close to Him, whilst also making Him known to others.

Yes, there may well be increasing opposition, and yes, in this country we may continue to decrease in number, but surely the challenge of Malachi, or rather God, through Malachi, is to remain faithful to the Lord.

No doubt this faithful remnant of Malachi’s day were above the pretence and second best that so many others were offering to God, and I’m sure it was hard.

It’s difficult going against the flow, but isn’t that what you and I (committed Christians) are called to do?

We must always strive to give our very best to the Lord. We must never ‘short-change’ Him. We must never promise something and then give Him something less than that, which is what the priests were accused of doing, and allowing the people to do the same.

I guess this remnant still faithfully put away each week their tithe for the Lord, but does the Lord still have first call on our money?

That’s part of what it means to be faithful – not only in Sunday worship with God’s people (regularly), and the weekly Bible Study/Prayer Meeting, etc., – but every moment, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, giving the Lord the very best we can: spiritually, financially, with our energy, our time, our skills, our lives.

Look again at chapter 3, and the end of v 16:
“A scroll of remembrance was written in His (that is the Lord’s) presence, concerning those who feared the Lord, and honoured His Name".
You get the feeling that this scroll wasn’t just rolled up and put away in a cupboard, and covered with lots of junk, but was treasured by the Lord, no less.

Can you imagine that? Because of remaining faithful to the Lord your name is written down, and is not only remembered, but known, and that by the Lord Himself! I can’t stifle a “Wow” here! Why would anyone not want that?

Yet, as we have seen in the last two parts in this series of Malachi, why did so many of the people and the priests fall short? Shouldn’t they have been more alert? Shouldn’t they have seen it coming? Shouldn’t they have done something about it? Of course they should, but they simply couldn’t, or didn’t want to see it!

And what about you and me? If we are Christians, are we committed to the Lord 100% all the time? And if we’re honest enough to admit it, what are we going to do about it? That might mean different things for different people, but we have to ask ourselves afresh each morning: where are we REALLY in our relationship with the Lord? Is the Lord challenging any of us today, and if so, how will we respond?

Now the remnant that Malachi spoke of was not the dreg ends, the worst bits that were left over, but the very best, at least in terms of their relationship with the Lord.

And the message for us today, in this society where so many are turning their backs on God, will we remain faithful to the Lord, and continue to be a committed remnant to Him, continuing in loving service to Him, and proclaiming Him to the world?

Now, very briefly, let’s pick up the other themes in this section.
Malachi, or rather God through His 
messenger, ends by pointing to two great figures:   
Moses and Elijah(4:4 & 5). Possibly we are intended to look back to Moses – the Giver of the Law – and forward to Elijah (sometimes pictured or acknowledged as the person we know now as ‘John the Baptist’) – the forerunner of Jesus Christ, and although Malachi himself doesn’t highlight God’s Son, although some other places do do that, we’re left at the end of the Old Testament, looking forward to all that is to come in the New.

Chapter 4 begins, “Surely the day is coming,” and that may refer to the coming of the Saviour of the world – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, or it may look forward to the Day of Judgement.

Either way, v2 says: “For you who revere My Name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (words we sing in the carol: Hark, the herald-angels sing). And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the Lord Almighty.

So we come to the end of the Book of Malachi, and we have to ask ourselves: “Are we part of the nation that forgets God’s Love; or the leaders (priests) who ignore God’s Laws; or are we the remnant who honour God’s Name.”

The choice is ours, but the repercussions of whichever group we are in are HUGE.

Let’s be quiet, and reflect on where we are – where we REALLY are – in our relationship with the Lord today and what is your response to His Word, and to Him? Do you need to do business with the Lord, if so, don’t put it off. Don’t go home without speaking to someone if that’s what you need to do.

Malcolm Brown