“Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. – Malachi 3:13–18 (ESV)
In verses 13 through 15, we see the unrighteous in Israel grumbling against the LORD – that following God didn’t really seem to pay any dividends. William VanGemeren comments:
[Yet] within the covenant community, there is a group which has kept itself distinct from the arrogant, mockers, and cynics. They are variously called “those who feared the LORD,” “those who honored the name,” “the righteous,” and “those who serve God.” The godly are thus characterized by their love for God and by their obedience to Him. Malachi intends to let us into the discussions of two distinct groups. The complaints of the first group are loud and clear, but what are the godly saying? It does not seem to matter. Instead, Malachi emphasizes the various designations for the godly and by drawing our immediate attention to God’s responsiveness to His children, that God knows His own. It may be that the godly pray in the spirit of Psalm 73 for God to take care of their pains, while expressing trust in Him:
Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
In response, their names are written in “a scroll of remembrance.” The LORD has marked a people for Himself who will accept His tender care and the rewards of their labors. The greatest reward is to be a member of His treasured possession.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 53
Q. 53. Which is the third commandment?
A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.