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Malachi 3:16

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Then they that feared the Lord spake often among themselves - The proud-speaking of the ungodly called out the piety of the God-fearing. “The more the ungodly spake against God, the more these spake among themselves for God.” Both went on until the Great Day of severance. True, as those said, the distinction between righteous and wicked was not made yet, but it was stored up out of sight. They “spake among themselves,” strengthening each other against the ungodly sayings of the ungodly.

And the Lord hearkened and heard it - God, whom these thought an idle looker-on, or regardless, all the while (to speak after the manner of men) was “bending the ear” from heaven “and heard.” Not one pious loyal word for Him and His glory, escaped Him.

And a book of remembrance was written before Him - Kings had their chronicles written wherein people‘s good or ill deeds toward them were recorded. But the image is one of the oldest in Scripture, and in the self-same words, “the Lord said to Moses, Write this, a memorial in a book.” God can only speak to us in our own language. One expression is not more human than another, since all are so. Since with God all things are present, and memory relates to the past, to speak of God as “remembering” is as imperfect an expression in regard to God, as to speak of “a book.”, “Forgetfulness hath no place with God, because He is in no way changed; nor remembrance, because He forgetteth not.” Both expressions are used, only to picture vividly to our minds, that our deeds are present with God, for good or for evil; and in the Day of Judgment He will make them manifest to men and angels, as though read out of a book, and will requite them. So Daniel had said Daniel 7:10, “the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And John says Revelation 20:12, “The books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” So Moses says to God, Exodus 32:32, “If not, blot me out of Thy book which Thou hast written;” and David, prophesying, prays Psalm 69:28, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written among the righteous;” and our Lord bids His discipies Luke 10:20, “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.”

And that thought upon His name - Rather, “esteemed, prized,” it, in contrast with those who Malachi 1:6. “despised;” as, of Christ, when He should come, it is said Isaiah 53:3, “He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” “The thinking on His Name imports, not a bare thinking of, but a due esteem and awful regard of, so as with all care to avoid all things which may tend to the dishonor of it, as always in His presence and with respect to Him and fear of Him.” “Those are meant who always meditate on the ways of the Lord and the knowledge of His Godhead, for His name is Himself, and He is His Name;” “the wise in heart who know the mystery of the awful glorious Name.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Among the Jews at this time, some plainly discovered themselves to be children of the wicked one. The yoke of Christ is easy. But those who work wickedness, tempt God by presumptuous sins. Judge of things as they will appear when the doom of these proud sinners comes to be executed. Those that feared the Lord, spake kindly, for preserving and promoting mutual love, when sin thus abounded. They spake one to another, in the language of those that fear the Lord, and think on his name. As evil communications corrupt good minds and manners, so good communications confirm them. A book of remembrance was written before God. He will take care that his children perish not with those that believe not. They shall be vessels of mercy and honour, when the rest are made vessels of wrath and dishonour. The saints are God's jewels; they are dear to him. He will preserve them as his jewels, when the earth is burned up like dross. Those who now own God for theirs, he will then own for his. It is our duty to serve God with the disposition of children; and he will not have his children trained up in idleness; they must do him service from a principle of love. Even God's children stand in need of sparing mercy. All are righteous or wicked, such as serve God, or such as serve him not: all are going to heaven or to hell. We are often deceived in our opinions concerning both the one and the other; but at the bar of Christ, every man's character will be known. As to ourselves, we have need to think among which we shall have our lot; and, as to others, we must judge nothing before the time. But in the end all the world will confess that those alone were wise and happy, who served the Lord and trusted in Him.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They that feared the Lord - There were a few godly in the land, who, hearing the language and seeing the profligacy of the rebels above, concluded that some signal mark of God's vengeance must fall upon them; they, therefore, as the corruption increased, cleaved the closer to their Maker. There are three characteristics given of this people, viz.: -

  1. They feared the Lord. They had that reverence for Jehovah that caused them to depart from evil, and to keep his ordinances.
  • They spake often one to another. They kept up the communion of saints. By mutual exhortation they strengthened each other's hands in the Lord.
  • 3. They thought on his name. His name was sacred to them; it was a fruitful source of profound and edifying meditation. The name of God is God himself in the plenitude of his power, omniscience, justice, goodness, mercy, and truth. What a source for thinking and contemplation! See how God treats such persons: The Lord hearkened to their conversation, heard the meditations of their hearts; and so approved of the whole that a book of remembrance was written before the Lord - all their names were carefully registered in heaven. Here is an allusion to records kept by kings, Esther 6:1, of such as had performed signal services, and who should be the first to be rewarded.

    Ellen G. White
    Steps to Christ, 101-2

    God does not mean that any of us should become hermits or monks and retire from the world in order to devote ourselves to acts of worship. The life must be like Christ's life—between the mountain and the multitude. He who does nothing but pray will soon cease to pray, or his prayers will become a formal routine. When men take themselves out of social life, away from the sphere of Christian duty and cross bearing; when they cease to work earnestly for the Master, who worked earnestly for them, they lose the subject matter of prayer and have no incentive to devotion. Their prayers become personal and selfish. They cannot pray in regard to the wants of humanity or the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom, pleading for strength wherewith to work. SC 101.1

    We sustain a loss when we neglect the privilege of associating together to strengthen and encourage one another in the service of God. The truths of His word lose their vividness and importance in our minds. Our hearts cease to be enlightened and aroused by their sanctifying influence, and we decline in spirituality. In our association as Christians we lose much by lack of sympathy with one another. He who shuts himself up to himself is not filling the position that God designed he should. The proper cultivation of the social elements in our nature brings us into sympathy with others and is a means of development and strength to us in the service of God. SC 101.2

    If Christians would associate together, speaking to each other of the love of God and of the precious truths of redemption, their own hearts would be refreshed and they would refresh one another. We may be daily learning more of our heavenly Father, gaining a fresh experience of His grace; then we shall desire to speak of His love; and as we do this, our own hearts will be warmed and encouraged. If we thought and talked more of Jesus, and less of self, we should have far more of His presence. SC 101.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 390

    In Malachi 3:16 an opposite class is brought to view, a class that meet together, not to find fault with God, but to speak of His glory and tell of His mercies. These have been faithful in their duty. They have given to the Lord His own. Testimonies are borne by them that make the heavenly angels sing and rejoice. These have no complaints to make against God. Those who walk in the light, who are faithful and true in doing their duty, are not heard complaining and finding fault. They speak words of courage, hope, and faith. It is those who serve themselves, who do not give God His own, that complain. 6T 390.1

    “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. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” Verses 16-18. 6T 390.2

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1183-4

    11. God Can Scatter Means—Those who are selfishly withholding their means need not be surprised if God's hand scatters their possessions. That which should have been devoted to the advancement of His work and cause, but which has been withheld, may in various ways be taken away. God will come near to them in judgments. Many losses will be sustained. God can scatter the means He has lent to His stewards, if they refuse to use it to His glory. Some may have none of these losses to remind them of their remissness in duty, but their cases may be the more hopeless (The Southern Watchman, February 21, 1905). 4BC 1183.1

    13-16. One Person Not to Do All the Witnessing—The fact that the Lord has been represented as hearkening to the words spoken by His witnesses, tells us that Jesus is in our very midst. He says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst.” One person is not to do all the witnessing for Jesus; but everyone who loves God is to testify of the preciousness of His grace and truth. Those who receive the light of truth are to have lesson upon lesson to educate them not to keep silent, but to speak often one to another. They are to keep in mind the Sabbath meeting, when those who love and fear God, and who think upon His name, can have opportunity to express their thoughts in speaking one to another.... 4BC 1183.2

    Let each one seek to become an intelligent Christian, bearing his responsibility, and acting his personal part to make the meeting interesting and profitable.... 4BC 1183.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Early Writings, 114

    Let us, then, cheerfully suffer something for Jesus’ sake, crucify self daily, and be partakers of Christ's sufferings here, that we may be made partakers with Him of His glory, and be crowned with glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life. EW 114.1

    *****

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