"His own son that serveth him"

Malachi 3:17.

The Book of Malachi is a solemn exposure of the low state of the remnant of Israel that had been brought back to the land in the sovereign mercy of God. Priests and people alike were insensible as to the glory and honour of Jehovah, and few cared about maintaining the dignity belonging to His service. Jehovah charges them with saying, "It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before Jehovah of Hosts?" Not only were they insensible as to God's honour, but they thought that God was indifferent to all that was taking place.

Judging from outward appearances they said, "And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered" (Mal. 3:15). Pride and wickedness may appear to be overlooked by God, but He takes account of it, and will deal with it in His own good time, even as we read in Malachi 4:1, "For, behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." God is longsuffering, giving men time to repent, but judgment surely awaits those who do not repent.

In the midst of this very low moral condition there were those who truly cared for the honour of Jehovah, and of them it is recorded, "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." This godly remnant were not insensible to the Lord's honour; nor did they think that He was indifferent to the low state of His people. This is evident in their fear of the Lord. It was not a slavish fear, but a holy reverence for the Name of the Lord, and respect for all that was connected with His holy Name.

Fearing the Lord, they spake often one to another. It was the fear of the Lord that bound them together, and we can well understand that the interests of the Lord would be the subject of their conversation. This too is evident, for the Lord hearkened and heard it. We may be sure that if the Lord was so interested in their conversation as to hearken, it concerned Him and His things among His people. Nothing of the exercises of His people escaped the Lord: all was heard, and it is evident that their conversation pleased Him.

The pleasure of the Lord is evinced in the "book of remembrance" that was written before Him. God may wait, and wait long, before rewarding His faithful ones; but He will never forget. Everything wrought or spoken in faithfulness for Him is recorded before Him, and the time will surely come for it to have its suitable reward.

It was a day of great weakness, and the remnant is not said to be marked by outstanding deeds of merit, but simply that they "feared the Lord, and thought upon His Name." Fear of the Lord would give character to their walk and ways; thinking upon His Name would keep them from association with anything that dishonoured Him in a day when the great mass were indifferent to His claims and in their ways manifested their disregard of the holiness and glory of God.

So great was God's pleasure in the remnant, weak and simple though they were, that He marked them out for Himself, saying, "They shall be mine . . . in that day when I make up my jewels." God will have them for His delight in the day of His glory, even as they gave Him pleasure in the day when the mass of the nation dishonoured Him. The proud and the evildoers sought their own pleasure, and had no regard for the claims of God, and when the day of judgment comes all they sought after, all in which they found their pride and gratification, will perish for ever, and they will be called upon to give account to the God against whom they so gravely offended.

When the proud and the evildoers are punished, God says of the faithful remnant, "I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." They are not only spared because of the relationship in which they were with Jehovah, but because in this favoured relationship they served God. Those who offered to God upon His altar the blind, the lame and the sick were serving themselves; keeping the best for themselves, and giving what their governor would have refused in sacrifice to God. In the midst of such profanity, the remnant sought to serve God, and to please Him.

Yet, though the remnant was faithful, the only true ground of their blessing, the only way in which they could be spared the righteous judgment of a holy God, was through HIS OWN SON THAT SERVED HIM. Apart from the death of the Lord Jesus there could not have been blessing for the remnant of Israel, nor for ourselves in this day of grace. And we are spared because He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). For all eternity we shall give thanks to God for the wonderful love that caused Him to give His own Son, to spare Him not, that we might be blessed. Every redeemed creature in the day to come will not only give praise to God, but to His own Son, who went into death to secure the glory of God, and enable Him to spare us, and make us His own.