Malachi 3:16 reads, “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.” In this text there are three characteristics given concerning the people of God that I want us to study, and then we will observe the blessing that followed. There are great lessons in this text for all of God’s people today.
In the first place it says that they “feared the Lord.” This in and of itself does not make one a child of God. It is said of Cornelius that he “feared God with all his house…” (Acts 10:2) and that he was “a just man and one that feareth God..” (verse 22). At the time, Cornelius was not a Christian, and he had to obey the Gospel in order to become a child of God. The kind of fear under consideration is not a fear that causes one to shudder at the very thought of God, but it is a reverential awe and respect for God and His will. In speaking of God David wrote, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psa. 111:9). The writer of the Hebrew letter said that we are to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28). It is evident that most people have little or no respect for God or His Word. According to Solomon, the whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). Peter made this statement at the house of Cornelius,”…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34 -35). There is no way that one can be a faithful child of God if he has no reverence and respect for God and His will.
Secondly, it is said in our text that these people of God “spake often one to another.” This implies that they had fellowship one with another, that they cooperated one with the other, that they were mutually helpful to each other. The word fellowship carries with it the idea of joint participation. We are told, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24). Paul wrote that we are “workers together with him…” 2 Cor. 6:1) and that “we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1). Some things might be pleasant that are not good for us, and some things might be good for us that are not pleasant, but unity is both good and pleasant. Christians are to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10). Paul wrote, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Phil. 2:2-3). Love for one another lets the world know that we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). The early church certainly fit this pattern (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37).
Thirdly, it is said of God’s people that they “thought upon his name.” This implies that they meditated upon God and His will, and that they were devout worshipers of Him. Do you enjoy studying God’s Word, and are you a faithful worshiper of God? The “Blessed” man of Psalms chapter 1, is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). What do you think about most? We are products of our thinking (Prov. 23:7; Rom. 12:1-2). We cannot rise above our thinking!
Finally, notice the results of the preceding, “and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them…” Rest assured that God does not forget His people. Paul spoke of people “whose names are written in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). We need to remember that God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). Because of that promise we can “boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (verse 6). Rest assured “our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). Do we really believe these promises? I hope that we do, because God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). May we strive to have the characteristics that we have discussed in our lives, and heaven will someday be our eternal home.