Malachi 3:16 “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.”

Observation: The last two chapters of Malachi have as an underlying theme the importance of fearing God. Malachi 3:5 says He will draw near in judgment against those who do not fear Him. Malachi 4:2 says that for those who fear Him the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings causing us to skip like calves. This concentration of references to fearing God arrests the attention and leaves me to ponder how I might gain that apparently desirable posture of fearing Him. And how does such fear square with a God who is all-loving?

Application: It may be that if I have difficulty reconciling the concepts of a loving God with one who is to be feared, it is likely the problem lies not with God, but with my definitions. My common view of a loving God is necessarily filtered through cultural lenses that have diluted and softened the concept of “love” till it has become like butter left too long in the hot sun ‘til no substance remains. It has become useless, still containing the essential elements of butter, but no longer able to stay on the knife, unable to hit its intended target. 

Similarly, I too often view the notion of “fearing God” through the prism of a fallen world in which earthly father and mother fell short of perfectly reflecting to me the great rewards of obedience. I learned the part about painful consequences of disobedience, yet often without the proper context of a father passionately wooing his child into the light. But from today’s reading, true fear of God will lead me to esteem His name. I will know, in my fear of Him, that I have become His possession, and that He has entered my name into His book of remembrance. 

There is coming a day when spiritual barrenness will be exposed and I will be given a vision of the blessings of those whose hearts are truly His. Malachi 4:1 says the day is coming when all the arrogant will be burned like chaff in a blazing furnace. Then my sloppy, gushy view of a loving God will be seen for what it is: a cheap imitation created by my own wishful thinking.

Prayer: Father, lead me into obedience in every area of my life. Burn compromise out of me; purify and refine me, Lord, so I can experience the fulness of Your love.