• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 49:The Difference

Malachi 3:16-18 ASV Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another; and Jehovah hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. (17) And they shall be mine, saith Jehovah of hosts, even mine own possession, in the day that I make; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (18) Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

Is there any point in serving God? Is there any difference between those who seek their own comfort and those who seek the Lord? Do not the righteous and the wicked meet the same frustrations and calamities - just the wicked have grabbed more wealth for themselves along the way and have a better time of it?

This is what the priests were asking in Malachi's time when they were underpaid due to the slack observances of that time.
"Malachi 3:14-15 Darby Ye say, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we keep his charge, and that we walk mournfully before Jehovah of hosts? (15) And now we hold the proud for happy; yea, they that work wickedness are built up; yea, they tempt God, and they escape."

God was not very understanding of this lack of faith and in the ASV it has Him saying "your words have been stout against Me" or in the Good News "you have said terrible things about me". The priest were doing some fierce grumbling and God wanted them to change their attitude quick smart.

The question of reward can be a very real question for many Christian workers. Is it really worthwhile to serve God - or are we just kidding ourselves? We must settle this fully. It cannot be left in doubt or it corrodes the soul.

And when we do settle it, in the right way, and decide once and for all that God is faithful and good - that's when our name is written in a book of remembrance. God takes note of those that fear Him and "think upon His name".

And there will come a time when God will richly reward those whose names were written in the book of remembrance and a clear distinction will be obvious between "him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not".

We have to decide that God is not unjust and that He will reward the sacrifices of His faithful servants.

On the surface, it must be said, that God's faithful servants are sometimes not rewarded fully in this life. Many missionaries do stay poor all their lives. Its not a path to riches. But it is a meaningful life and a good and satisfying life. One day it will also be a very rewarded life. God will make a distinction between those that just warm the pews and those who suffer for the sake of His name.

Jesus alludes to this rewarding of the faithful in His "hundredfold" passages (Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:30) where the sacrifices of believers are to be compensated for a hundred fold "in this age". I think "this age" can perhaps refer to the Millennium which is in "this age' in the sense that we will be on this Earth and not in the eternal state. Its quite clear that he who has left a house - will receive a hundred houses! And that is not happening now.
{Mark 10:29-30 LITV But answering, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, There is no one who forsook house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake and the gospel, (30) that will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the coming age, eternal life.}

Malachi also seems to imply that it will be after a time of judgement "in the day that I make" that believers who serve God will be clearly and obviously rewarded.

What then - do we go out and hurl ourselves into living in a bark hut in a jungle (been there done that) just to earn extra points on that day? No, not really, the faithful priests were not rewarded for sitting on poles or for self-flagellation, they were rewarded for solid faith.

But this passage does mean that we must stop grumbling, start believing and keep trusting in God.

When irritations build to explosion point we need to discipline ourselves into line and not start thinking that God is giving us a hard time of it all, that ministry isn't "worth it" and that we would be better off in the world.

The petty indignities and numerous discomforts of ministry can erode our faith if we let them. They can make us feel hard done by if we dwell on them.

Instead of dwelling on our humiliations, frustrations and privations we should "think on His name".

Use a dose of "perspective restorer' and sing a few verses of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "And Can It Be". Jog yourself of mooching about the age of your car or the size of your pay-packet and look on the glories of the faith.

Your heart will warm , your eyes will open, and you will praise the Lord, and just maybe your name will end up in that book of remembrance!


John Edmiston


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