ENCOURAGEMENT 2021 SERIES: GOD REWARDS

GOD REWARDS

God Rewards

Sunday 24 January 2021

Ps Ben Hooman

Please open your Bible for the last time in this short series at Malachi chapter three. We have seen that Malachi gives us an exact description of the challenge facing believers today. The wicked seemed to be winning and God didn’t seem to do much to stop them. The righteous were struggling and God didn’t seem to do much to help them.

God seemed neither to frown on the wicked nor to smile on the righteous. So, God’s people began to wonder, what’s the point in serving the Lord? You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God’.

“You have said it is vain to serve the Lord. …” (Malachi 3:14)

But through all of this some remained faithful. Those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them. 

“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.” (Malachi 3:16)

We saw that a book of remembrance was written. In Christ, God remembers your work, your words, your tears and your desires, but He does not remember your sins. God puts a finger of mercy on the scars of His children. Our sins and our iniquities He remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Now today we begin with verse 18 where Malachi says, 

“Then once more you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Malachi 3:18)

The words once more indicate that there had been times in the past when God’s people saw the distinction between the righteous and the wicked.

Noah saw the distinction of the righteous and the wicked at the time of the flood. He lived at a time when the earth was filled with violence.

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) 

And God warned Him of the judgment that would come. Noah preached this message to others. (2 Peter 2:5) No one outside of Noah’s family took him seriously. Noah built the ark, no doubt to the great amusement of those who watched him. Then he got into the ark, which must have seemed very strange when the sun was shining. But when the rains came, and the floods rose, everyone saw the distinction between the righteous and the wicked.

Malachi says that once more; you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3:18).

Moses saw the distinction between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve Him, at the time of the exodus. God said to Pharaoh, 

“Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 7:16)

This theme of God’s people serving Him is repeated again and again in story of the exodus. ‘Let My people God that they may serve Me’ (Exodus 8:1, 9:1, 9:13, 10:4; see also 14:5 and 14:12). In the story of the exodus, the difference between those who served God and those who did not was clearly seen. When God’s people reached the Red Sea, God pulled back the waters and those who served Him crossed on dry land. But when those who sought to destroy them followed, the waters closed over them, and everyone saw the distinction between those who serve God and those who do not serve Him.

So there had been times in the past where the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not, had been clearly seen. But in Malachi’s day, God’s people saw that evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.

“And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” (Malachi 3:15)

Some began to wonder, ‘If God does not judge the wicked what is the point in being righteous?’ So, they said that it is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping His charge? (Malachi 3:14).

Here in these verses God gives the answer, and this is why these verses bring such encouragement to faithful believers. There will be a day of reward for the righteous and for those who serve the Lord. And on that day, you will see the distinction between the one who serves God and the one who does not. You will see the difference between the righteous and the wicked as clearly as Moses did in the exodus or as Noah did in the flood. There’s all the difference in the world.

What will that day of reward be like for those who serve the Lord?  You will be treasured, you will be spared, you will be healed, you will be free.

You will be treasured

“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, …” (Malachi 3:17)

The King James Version translates this verse, “In the day when I make up my jewels”. God’s people are His jewels, His treasured possession. That is a beautiful picture!

  • Jewels are treasured

Think about an engagement ring, or any piece of jewellery you have been given to mark a special occasion. Jewels are treasured. If you have ever been told that you are nothing, or made to feel that you are nothing, I want you to hear from the Bible today that in Christ you are God’s treasured possession.

  • Jewels are beautiful

They sparkle. Right now we are diamonds in the rough. But one day, every believer will shine with a radiance that reflects the beauty of Jesus. “When He cometh when He cometh to take up His jewels. All His jewels, precious jewels His loved and His own, like the stars of the morning His bright crown adorning, they shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His own”.

  • Jewels are expensive

You have been purchased. You have been bought with a price. The Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you. God’s jewels were bought at an infinite price.

  • Jewels are guarded

A string of plastic beads can be bought for a few bucks, and they might easily be left around. But jewels that are of great value will be guarded. You will be kept and guarded by God. When God’s jewels are gathered not one of them will be missing.

  • Jewels are worn

When they are worn, they say something about the person who wears them. God’s glory will be put on display forever in the redeemed lives of all who serve Him.

  • Jewels are owned

They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession (Malachi 3:17). The great purpose of God has always been to redeem a people for Himself. The LORD has set apart the godly for Himself (Psalm 4:3). Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14). 

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9). Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).

  • Jewels can be moved

God speaks here about a day when He will “make up” His jewels. Right now, God’s jewels are kept and guarded in the world. But one day, God will bring His jewels home. Every time a Christian dies God brings one of His jewels home. 

But God speaks here about a day when He will “make up” His jewels. He will gather them together. One day God will make up His jewels. He will gather His redeemed people from the corners of the earth.

The great desire of Christ is that His jewels will be with Him. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am (John 17:24). This is why He came into the world, and went to the cross and rose from the dead: Christ died to purchase the jewels, and He wants them with Him. 

“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession,” (Malachi 3:17)

The first and greatest thing about the day of reward is that you will be with Christ. You are His treasured possession. And you will be His forever. 

“They shall be mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, …. Then once more you will shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. between one who serves God and one who does not serve God.” (Malachi 3:17-18)

There’s all the difference in the world!

You will be spared

“… and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” (Malachi 3:17) 

What will God spare us from? God describes the Day of Judgment in the first verse of chapter 4, 

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” (Malachi 4:1)

Utter destruction! The wicked will not stand in the judgment (Psalm 1:5). Nothing they have done will last.

Picture a wildfire sweeping through the trees of a forest. After the fire has passed, all you can see are charred remains. If a living branch remains on a tree, new shoots can grow. If a living root remains in the ground a new plant can grow. But a tree without root and without branch has no future. It is only the remains of a tree that once was.

That’s the future for those who do not fear God, those who do not serve Him. The arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day ‘will leave them neither root nor branch’. But God says of those who serve Him, “I will spare them”.

Every Christian knows that whatever we have done for Christ, we could have done better. We should have done more. The more you serve the Lord, the more you will see your own sins and failings. We find ourselves saying we are unworthy servants (Luke 17:10). But God says of those who serve Him, “I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him” (Malachi 3:17).

This is an amazing statement. God did not spare the angels who fell. God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (2 Peter 2:4).

God did not spare the world in the time of Noah. He did not spare the ancient world…when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:5). 

God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all (Romans 8:32).

But God says to those who fear Him, “I will spare you.” Father like He tends and spares us; well our feeble frame He knows, in His hands He gently bears us, rescues us from all our foes.

God says, “I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” Then you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Between those who serve God and those who do not serve God.

There’s all the difference in the world.

You will be healed

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. …” (Malachi 4:2)

I love the way that God speaks to us in pictures. Here God speaks to us in the picture of a morning sunrise: “The sun of righteousness shall rise”

When last did you sit outside waiting for the sun to rise? When you got up everything was dark and suddenly there was a glow on the horizon. The light of another world was dawning on you. As the light dawned, you see the beauty of the mountain that had been hidden in the darkness.

God takes that picture of the sunrise, and He says to those who fear Him, “There is a glorious world that right now you cannot see, but when the sun of righteousness rises you will see splendours beyond anything you can imagine right now”.

“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. Light dawned in this dark world when He came into the world, and that light will shine when He returns in power and glory.

In the carol ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ we have these words, taken from Malachi:

“Hail, the heaven born Prince of Peace!

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings.”

Notice what will happen when Jesus returns, 

“But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2)

Some wounds are so deep that they never fully heal in this life. Some losses are so great that they are never made up in this life.

Perhaps you know what it is to say, “I will never have the life I would have had if this had not happened to me.” Yes, God has helped you, but scars remain, and, like Jacob, you walk with a limp.

When Christ returns, He will wipe all tears from your eyes. You will be completely whole. You will enter into the joy of His presence. And you will serve Him as you always wished you could.

The Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. Then you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Between those who serve God and those who do not serve God. 

There’s all the difference in the world.

You will be free

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)

I love this picture. Imagine, here are cows who have spent the entire winter in a stall. And when the spring comes, they are let out into the field. Imagine what this is like for calves that were born in winter. All they have ever known is life in a stall. But suddenly a door is opened and they enter a whole new world! They have been eating dry silage: now they eat lush green grass. Their only movement was in a barn crammed with other animals. Now they are released into an open field. And they leap with joy as they enter into this new world.

God says to those who fear Him, ‘This is what it will be like for you. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall’. That’s a great promise for all of us today. 

We are all tired of living with restrictions. But I want to apply this promise especially today to those who know what it is to feel that you are restricted to life in the stall. Some of you are restricted by old age, by illness, by a life changing injury. The world is getting smaller for you and it isn’t easy. Hear this promise, which is given to all who fear the Lord: You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall! 

Then you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Between those who serve God and those who do not serve God.

There’s all the difference in the world.

Conclusion

What are we to do in the light of this promise?

  • Wait patiently

Our world is not as God made it, and it is not as it will be when God redeems it. The world is filled with pain that perplexes the people of God. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape (Malachi 3:15).

Faith lives with questions. Why did God allow this? Why did He not do something to stop it? When faith is confronted with unanswered questions, it waits patiently. Faith knows that a day is coming when you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not.

  • Serve faithfully

Serving God is the main theme that runs through these verses.

The question raised in verse 14 is what you get out of serving God? You have said, “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge?” (Malachi 3:14). “What do you get out of serving God? It’s not worth it,” they said.

The people God spares on the day of judgment in verse 17 are those who serve Him. “I will spare them as a man spared his son who serves him” (Malachi 3:17).

And when God reveals the distinction of between the righteous and the wicked, we will see that there is a great gulf between one who serves God and one who does not serve him (Malachi 3:18).

And notice that the “righteous” person is the one who “serves God” and the “unrighteous” person is the one who “does not serve Him.” It’s all about who you serve.

And, says Malachi, the day is coming when once more you will see the distinction…between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3:18).

So, learn to live in the light of that day. Live life backwards. Start by looking at where you want to be at the end.

On the day when all will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, I want to be in the company of those who serve God. Therefore, I will serve Him now, and every day that He gives me.

Only one life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last. 

  • Look forward joyfully

“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also.” (John 12:26)

Brother, sister in Christ, what lies ahead of you is glorious. The Sun of Righteousness will rise on you with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. God Himself will wipe all tears from your eyes.

Serving Jesus is always worth it, no matter what it costs. 

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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