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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The delighted response of God (Mal. 3:13-18)

The prophet says that the Lord hearkened and heard the small groups as they met to think about him. The verb translated ‘hearkened’ would have been used of an animal that hears a sudden noise that intrigues it. We have all seen dogs and cats lift up their ears as their hearing picks up a distinct and different sound. When we apply this to God, it is a word picture that informs us of his delight in hearing words that are totally different from the complaining words of the majority. Of all the multitude of words that ascend into the ears of God, the ones of which he takes special notice are those of his fearing people. He does this every time they meet to think about his name.

The idea behind the word translated ‘heard’ is that of a mother bending down to listen to the words of her child. What comes from the child’s mouth might not be intelligent or profound, but the words will be an expression of trust. This is what the Lord does when his people express their confidence in him in difficult times. He bends down to listen to every word, and each word fills him with delight.

The Lord does more than listen with delight. Malachi informs his audience that the Lord is determined to bless his trusting people. He uses an illustration taken from the custom of the Persian kings. Whenever a person did something for the king, the action was recorded in a special book. The reason why it was recorded was not merely one of recognition; in addition there was the intention of the king to reward the person at a suitable time. This reward would be given according to the riches of the king and not according to the status of the person. It is a marvellous picture of the Lord’s intention to bless abundantly his faithful people. Each time of fellowship was recorded in heaven with the aim of bestowing spiritual blessings upon them in the future. This does not mean that obedience merits grace, but it does mean that there is a clear link between our delight in God and in his determination to bless us.

Regarding ourselves, it is wonderful to know that there is a register in heaven that records our little expressions of devotion, and to know that the Lord is waiting for the suitable moment when he will bestow his blessings upon us.

In this life, many blessings come our way because of the register in heaven. Yet there is one great blessing in which all his people are going to share, and it will be experienced at the judgement seat. Believers have different experiences of God’s mercy as they live for him day by day, but nothing in this life comes close to the marvellous prediction that the prophet makes in these verses.

God will make a distinction between his people and others on that day. He says that his people will be his jewels when he puts together his diadem on the final day. They will be put on public display, glorified in a manner suitable for a royal occasion. The King will collect them and arrange them in beautiful harmony and they will glisten in the light of his splendour. All of them will be perfect and will possess greater understanding that they had in this world. Yet they will be doing the same activity there as they did here, talking about the greatness and the grace of God.

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