The Book of RemembranceCompiled from The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck; and gracethrufaith.com, Jack Kelley
In Malachi 3:16,the prophet says, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.”
This particular sepher (Hebrew: book, scroll) is mentioned by name only once in the Bible.
Traditionally, Malachi has been viewed as the last prophet of the Old Testament period before John the Baptist (whose ministry Malachi had prophesied).
Most scholars agree that the Book of Malachi was written around 450-430 BC, about 100 years after Cyrus had issued the decree in 538 BC allowing the Jews to return from exile to Judah.
Malachi was addressing the same, or a later generation, to whom Ezra and Nehemiah had spoken. Their hearts were indifferent and resentful towards God. The people’s hope in God’s covenant promises had dimmed – and they were in a general moral ambivalence.
Malachi’s message was similar to that of the other prophets: covenant blessing requires covenant faithfulness (Deut. 4:30-31; 30:1-10).
Malachi charges them with:
- A lack of trust in God; questioning God’s love for them (Israel)
- disrespecting and dishonoring God (the priests failed to honor God, they failed to teach the Law and caused many to stumble)
- contemptible sacrifices (defiled food used in sacrifice disregarding God’s requirements for sacrifices; priests eating the food from unacceptable sacrifices)
- intermarriage with pagans (abhorrent to God, profaning the uniqueness and unity of the people)
- divorce (a disregard for the nation’s corporate nature, disobedience to God, and signifying the breaking of a covenant)
- lack of hope and trust in God’s justice (the apparent prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous)
- robbing God (failure to give tithes and offerings; failure to support God’s ministry, the Temple, was equal to robbing God, Deut. 28)
- speaking harsh things against the LORD (saying worship was empty, useless, of no benefit)
Yet, Malachi appealed to them that if they would return to the LORD, He would return to them, Mal. 3:7. This was a promise of blessing based on God’s covenant with them. This promise renews the righteous and strengthens their fear of God.
God was responding to the people in accordance with the covenant. His response, however, was not in the form of blessing, which they desired. He required of them external obedience, but it must stem from the heart. And it was not to vindicate one’s own righteousness but to manifest God’s righteousness. Gen 4:7
Some of the people against whom the charges were made were guilty of the narrow-minded legalism that led to the Jewish Pharisees in the first century AD. This legalism concentrated on performing certain rigorous activities and damaged the expression of inner righteousness required by God. Matt 5:20-48; 23:1-36.
After Malachi spoke the charges against them, there was a response from the believing remnant. They discussed this oracle among themselves. The LORD heard their discussions and was pleased. The only names written in the Book of Remembrance were those of the people who were speaking together at the time. As a result of their faithfulness, there is a permanent remembrance of their reverent response which is kept in heaven.
What this remnant (those who feared the LORD) said to each other is unknown, but it might have been regarding a renewed perspective of God’s faithfulness.
Their fear of GOD is what God desired. “Revere” translates the same Hebrew word as “fear” and “feared”.
Malachi 3:17 continues with “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels (treasured possession) And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.” Emphasis added
When the LORD spoke of the day when He makes up His treasured possession, He was speaking about the Kingdom Age. He was saying that they would be included in the Resurrection of Israel spoken of in Daniel 12:1-2, and would be spared from judgment. Also the term “treasured possession” specifically refers to Israel. Exodus 19:5-6
Some Bible teachers interpret the Book of Remembrance as a record the LORD kept of a specific event in Israel’s past, and not to be seen as a general reference. They believe these verses do not in any way involve the Church or the Rapture.