The Making of God's Jewels
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, December 26, 1999
Copyright © 1999, P. G. Mathew
In this passage from the book of Malachi we discover that God has a great purpose for his people. It is to make those who are rebels and sinners by nature into jewels, God's treasured possession.
Malachi's prophecy was written about 430 B.C., about ninety years after the construction of a new temple during the time of Haggai and Zechariah. Coming after the destruction of the temple of Solomon, the exile of God's people to Babylon, and the return of the exiles to the promised land, it is the last book of prophecy in the Old Testament.
The name Malachi means "my messenger." In this short prophecy consisting of four small chapters, Malachi addresses two types of people, those who are arrogant and those who fear the Lord, both of whom are God's people.
The arrogant people were unhappy with the Lord because he was not measuring up to their expectations. By 430 B.C. Israel was a small province in the backwaters of the Persian empire. The future glory prophesied by Haggai and Zechariah had not been realized, and the people were losing hope. Certain that time was running out for God to come in power to exalt Israel, they began to doubt God's covenant of grace. They became cynical and totally insensitive, not only about the love of God, but also about their own sin. They began to say it was worthless to serve God, and so their worship became formal, mechanical, and ceremonial, without any demonstration of heart or faith in God's covenant. Concluding on the basis of their circumstances that God did not care for them, they became disrespectful of God and angry with him. They were like the prodigal son's older brother, who charged that his father had never loved him.
But despite the arrogance, rebellion and sinfulness of his people, God's purpose is to make jewels of them, and he will accomplish his purpose. In this study, therefore, we want to examine, first, the speech of the arrogant people of God; second, the speech of the godly people of God--those who feared the Lord; and, third, God's speech to his arrogant people.
The Speech of the Arrogant
We want to examine the speech of the arrogant people of God. These people were unhappy with God, so they came to him and demanded that God defend himself in terms of his dealings with them. Their sheer arrogance is expressed through a number of challenges they put to God.
1. How Have You Loved Us?
In Malachi 1:2 the Lord Almighty made this declaration to his people: "'I have loved you,' says the Lord." In the Hebrew that statement means, "I have loved you in the past and I love you now." But notice the arrogant response of the people: "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'" These people were challenging God, saying to him, "God, you say that you love us, but we do not believe you. How can you say you love us when things are not going our way? Prove your love to us! Defend yourself!"
Here we see the wonderful patience and longsuffering of God. He did not need to give a defense of himself to these arrogant people, but he condescended to do so. So in verses 2-3 we read, "'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' the Lord says. 'Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.'"
God was pointing out to these arrogant people that one proof of his love for them was that while others were destroyed, they were not. Although Esau and Jacob were brothers, God himself had raised up people to destroy Esau's descendants, the Edomites, while he spared Jacob's descendants, the Israelites. Both the Babylonians and the Nabateans drove the Edomites out of their land, and this text tells us that if they attempted to build again, God would destroy whatever they built. In verse 4 we read, "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord."
God in his mercy loves us, but God in his judgment will destroy whomever he wants to destroy. So he told these arrogant people, "Do you want me to prove that I love you? Don't you know that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and, thus, all are subject to my judgment and destruction? Look at the affairs of your brother Edom! I judged and destroyed him, making him a heap of rubble, and my judgment is irreversible. Yet in covenant love I have loved you and still love you."
How merciful God is to his people! Yet we find a similar attitude of arrogance among the people of God even today. Just think of how many times we ourselves have challenged God, saying, "O God, you haven't loved us. You haven't blessed us," when, in fact, he has showered upon us a multitude of blessings! God, whose love is great and mercy is rich, has showered upon us blessing upon blessing upon blessing.
May God open our eyes to discern what he has done! May we "count our blessings, naming them one by one." If we do so, it will surprise us to see what the Lord has done! May God deliver us from our arrogance, our hardness of heart, our insensitivity, and our cynicism that finds God to be at fault when the fault is really ours.
2. How Have We Shown Contempt for Your Name?
The second example of arrogant speech is found in Malachi 1:6. There God says, "'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?' says the Lord Almighty." Notice the term "Lord Almighty." Malachi uses it over twenty times in this short prophetic book.
What was the response of the arrogant people to God? "How have we shown contempt for your name?" In other words, they were saying, "God, you say we have not honored you? Prove it to us!" This is like an arrogant, disobedient son demanding that his father and mother give an account of themselves to him. We parents may put up with such behavior, but our God will not put up with it for long.
What was God's answer? In Malachi 1:8 we read, "When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept them from you?" And in Malachi 1:14 he describes more of what these people were doing: "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord."
By their sacrifices these people were demonstrating that they did not consider God worthy of much, if any, honor. But then God gives his people at least one reason why they should respect him: "'For I am a great king,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and my name is to be feared among the nations." Our God is the covenant Lord, the Sovereign Lord of the universe. As the great King, he demands respect.
What about us? Are we showing contempt for God? Do we fear, honor, and respect God? Do we tremble when he speaks? Do we love and obey him? Or are we giving God blemished, diseased offerings--the worst, not the best, of the flock?
3. How Have We Defiled You?
The third example of arrogant speech is found in Malachi 1:7. God said, "You have placed defiled food on my altar. But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?'" God responds by again reminding them that when they brought blind, crippled and diseased animals for sacrifice, it not only showed disrespect for God but actually defiled the Lord's table. What arrogance of the people of God!
4. How Have We Wearied You?
The fourth example is found in Malachi 2:17. God says, "You have wearied the Lord with your words." Did these arrogant people agree with that? No. "How have we wearied him?" they asked, and God gave them an answer: "By saying, 'All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,' or 'Where is the God of justice?'" In other words, these people were attacking God's justice, God's rule, God's providence. They were saying, "God, your rule stinks!"
5. How Are We to Return?
The fifth example is found in Malachi 3:7. First, in verse 6, God tells his people, "Return to me and I will return to you." In other words, God was saying, "Repent and I will bless you."
But in verse 7 the people ask, "How are we to return?" In other words, they were asking, "God, why should we repent and return to you? We haven't done anything wrong. We are okay. In fact, we don't think there is any problem with us at all."
God gave them just one reason they should repent. They were guilty of robbing God. They had taken the tithes and offerings that were due to God and had used them for themselves. They knew that the tithes were holy to God, yet they took them for their own benefit. No wonder God didn't bless their labors! These people were not prospering because God had cursed them.
6. What Have We Said Against You?
We find the last example of arrogant speech in Malachi 3:13. God says, "You have said harsh things against me." Again, the people refused to agree with God, asking, "What have we said against you?" So God confronted them with their harsh words: "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape."
You see, these people reduced everything to dollars and cents and good health. They were complaining, "O God, you haven't given us a lot of money or position or power. You haven't given us good health. You are unjust. You seem ready to bless the arrogant and the sinners, but you will not bless us, your own people, who serve you." Certainly, this is arrogant speech against a holy and just God.
Confronting God Almighty
As we read this prophecy, we must marvel at God's patience and forbearance toward his people! Instead of wiping out these arrogant ones from the face of the earth, the Almighty God responded by defending himself in the human court of his own people.
Do you think these people fully realized with whom they were contending? No. Remember, Malachi uses the term "the Lord Almighty" over twenty times in this short prophecy. That was who these people were challenging. If only these arrogant ones had come to their senses!
But haven't all of us also shown such arrogance? Even the upright Job thought that he could defend himself before God--until God showed up and challenged him. In Job 40:1 we read, "The Lord said to Job, 'Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!'" In other words, God was saying, "I heard your challenge and I am here now. What did you want?" Verse 3: "Then Job answered the Lord, 'I am unworthy--how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but have no answer--twice, but I will say no more.' Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: 'Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'" I assure you, when the Lord Almighty appears to us, we will put our hands to our mouths, shut up, and pour contempt on all our pride.
If we have spoken arrogantly, I hope that we will repent before God. May we put away all arrogant speech against God and his justice, mercy, and covenant faithfulness. May we instead make the great affirmation that our God is good, and his love endures forever.
The Speech of the Humble
Not all of God's people were arrogant. In Malachi 3:16 we read of those who heard the arrogant speech of their brothers: "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard." When Malachi says, "the Lord listened and heard," the idea is that the Lord was delighted with the conversation of the humble.
Who were these people? Those who feared the Lord. Such people are the true people of God. They alone are the godly, the elect of God, the church within the church. Let us, then, examine the speech of the godly people of God.
Fearing the Great King
The main thing we notice about the speech of the humble is that they feared God. This is the proper response to the Sovereign Lord of the universe. God himself says this in the latter part of Malachi 1:14, where we read, "'For I am a great king,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and my name is to be feared among all nations.'"
Our God is the great King, the Lord of the covenant, who, in mercy and grace, offered to us his covenant of mercy, grace, and salvation. He didn't have to offer it to us, but he did, because he intended to save us. As the great King, then, God demands that we honor, revere, fear, and obey him. With all our heart, mind, soul and strength we must love this great King who, in grace, offers to us his covenant of grace.
In Malachi 3:5 God speaks of what will happen to those who do not honor him. "'So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,' says the Lord Almighty." If these people feared the Lord, they would not have done such things, because these are violations of God's covenant.
The truth is, when you violate God's covenant, curses will be pronounced upon you. But if you humble yourself and fear God, you will receive God's blessing. In Malachi 3:16 we read, "Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard." The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord keeps us from sinning.
We need the fear of the Lord! In Romans 3:18 Paul speaks about the total depravity of man, and gives the reason for all man's arrogance: "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Arrogant people are fools, in other words, because the fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."
Arrogant people do not see God Almighty. But the godly are those who by faith see God in his word and live in obedience to that word. Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they love their great King and his beneficent laws.
Setting God Before Us
The godly are always conscious of God. In Psalm 16:8-9 we find a godly man saying, "I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. . . ."
Setting the Lord before us is the deliberate act of seeing God as the great king. In other words, the life of the godly is a deliberately God-conscious life. It is a life ordered by a true consciousness of God.
A godly man sees God by faith and seeks to order his life in a way that is pleasing to him. As he does so, the Lord keeps him in the paths of righteousness and eternal life, safe and secure from all alarms. He is the one of whom we read in Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me."
In Isaiah 43:1-3 we read what God says about the godly: "But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'" This is how God speaks to his treasured possession, the godly ones.
Example of a Godly Man
Who is the ultimate example of a godly person who feared God? Jesus Christ the Messiah. When the eternal Son became incarnate, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, who is also described as the Spirit of the fear of God. Jesus Christ delighted in the fear of the Lord. More than anyone else, he feared God and kept his covenant. He always did that which was pleasing in the sight of the Father, and the Father's will prospered in his hand.
In Isaiah 50 we find a description of the life of Jesus, God's disciple, who set the Lord always before him. In verses 4-10 we read:
The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Godly people trust in God, knowing that, no matter what happens, God is faithful, immutable, and true to his covenant. God never fails; therefore, trust in him! That is what Isaiah is saying, and that is what the Lord Jesus Christ did.
What About Us?
As we study this small prophecy, we must acknowledge that we are living at a time like that of Malachi. Both inside and outside the church, arrogant people speak against God. I recently read a letter saying that anyone who believes in the Bible is ignorant and bigoted. This letter happened to be written by a church-going person!
We are surrounded by such arrogant speech today. People mock God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ, and call anyone who believes in these things crazy, bigoted, and ignorant. Some consider orthodox Christian doctrines as pollution on the landscape of modern society, as does a so-called preacher I heard recently. This man says he doesn't preach Christ because the religion of the third millennium should be cleansed of such pollution. To this man, pollution is any religion that speaks about sin, human arrogance, and Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world. This man hates a religion that says the wrath of God is revealed against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men and wants to replace it with a worldwide pollution-free religion in which everyone is nice. He is even now actively networking with other world religious leaders to create this type of unoffending religion. But what will be the problem of such a religion? In the final analysis, the salvation it offers will save no one.
God has a way of dealing with the arrogant people of this world. He is going to come again, and when he does, he will make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.
The Godly Must Speak
As those who are godly hear the arrogant ones of the world defy God's truth and God's Son, the Messiah and only Savior, what should they do? Speak out.
If we fear the Lord, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit and witness to the only true and living God. We must proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world. We must preach the biblical truth that all men are sinners, and the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. (PGM) We must declare that the wrath of God is abiding upon all who have not trusted in Christ for salvation. We must proclaim that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners, and that everyone who repents and trusts in him shall be saved.
Where should we speak? In the world, in the church, and in our homes. We must witness to our children, our friends, and our enemies. We must sound the trumpet with great clarity. The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which men can be saved except the name of Jesus Christ.
What if we encounter opposition? We must keep on speaking. The Jewish Sanhedrin told the apostles not to speak anymore about Jesus, but they said, "No, we must keep on speaking. This is the great commission given to us by God himself. We fear God; therefore, we must speak." We must keep in mind that Jesus feared the Lord and he spoke; the apostles feared the Lord and they spoke; and so we who fear the Lord must also speak for God.
How can we speak? The Holy Spirit will enable us. In Ephesians 5:18-19 the apostle Paul instructs us, "Do not be drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Additionally, the writer to the Hebrews tells us not to neglect the gathering together of the saints. When we come to the church, we must speak and encourage one another and build each other up in the most holy faith.
The Minority Report
What is the word to the godly? Speak up! Do not follow the arrogant! Be different! But there is only one problem: the majority of people in the world are among the arrogant. Godly, God-fearing people are in the minority, and this may cause us to fear. But let me tell you, just as God encouraged Elijah by saying, "You are not the only one. There are seven thousand who have not bowed their knees to Baal."
Yes, we are a minority, and therefore we are tempted to join the majority, but we must resist this temptation. We must be bold and courageous, faithful to Christ unto death.
We can also take courage from the example of Caleb and Joshua as recorded in Numbers 13. Twelve men were sent to Palestine to bring a report about the nature of the land. When they returned, the majority of the spies--all but Caleb and Joshua--gave a bad report, which served only to discourage the people. But in Numbers 13:30 we read, "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land for we can certainly do it.'"
Influenced by the majority report, the people began to grumble against God. But when the arrogant speak, the minority should speak up as well, so in Numbers 14:5-9, we see the minority speaking up again:
Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord and do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them."
God listened and heard the speech of the minority. In verse 24 he said, "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it." You see, God hears your conversation and God is going to bless you as you stand and speak for him. But what about the arrogant? In Numbers 14:30 God declares, "Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun."
The Scroll of Remembrance
Therefore, I urge you to speak up for God. Know that the Lord listens to your conversation and answers your prayers. I assure you, your speech will be different if you are aware of the truth that the Lord listens and hears you.
In Malachi 3:16 we read, "A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name." Not only does the Lord listen to our words, but he also records our good works in a book of remembrance, and he will reward us in due course.
Do you think God has forgotten you? That is what God's people thought during Isaiah's time. In Isaiah 49 the people of Israel thought God had forgotten them. In Isaiah 49:14 we read, "But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.'" But what does God say? "'Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.'"
Isn't that wonderful? We are ever before the Lord. If we set the Lord always before us, what does the Lord do? He sets us always before him as people who give delight to the Lord.
God remembered the works of the godly ones and wrote them in a book. The word "remember" in the Bible means God will remember to act, whether in salvation or judgment. In our case it means he will act to save us in his own good time, just as King Xerxes remembered to honor Mordecai, as we read in Esther 6. King Xerxes could not sleep, so he opened the book of the record of his reign and read about Mordecai, whose action in saving the king's life was recorded in the book. The king asked, "Have we done anything to honor this person?" What was the answer? "No." "Well, we have to do it," the king said and Mordecai was honored.
Our God never forgets our actions in his behalf. Just as Xerxes remembered, our God will also remember, because everything is written in a scroll. In due time, he will act. He will come to save us, help us, and deliver us. The Lord will honor all those who fear and honor him, just as he said in 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honor me, I will honor."
The Making of God's Jewels
In the King James version, Malachi 3:17 reads, "'And they shall be mine,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'in the day when I make up my jewels.'" The godly are God's most treasured possession--jewels of God. This means you are most precious and most beautiful.
God has been making us into his jewels for a long time--from all eternity. Oh, we were not very promising material, were we? The Bible says we are by nature wicked sinners, enemies of God. But God says, "I'll work with them," and he does. Only God can do this, and he chooses to do it. In Psalm 135:4 we read, "For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession." The reason for all this is divine election--God's love shown in his plan to make his people into his treasured possession.
In eternity God chose us in Christ and predestinated us to be conformed to the glorious image of his own Son. For what purpose? So that, in God's time, we might enjoy fellowship with him and that God might take delight in us. Can you believe that we are the people who will give deep pleasure and delight to the heart of God? Can you believe that God looks upon us as his treasured possession?
And in time God effectually called us by the gospel of his grace. "Because of his great love for us," Paul says, "God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions" (Eph. 2:4). Then he justified us, declaring that we are righteous before him in Christ, and adopted us as his children. Now he is sanctifying us, changing us from glory to glory. To do this, there may be times when he puts us in his furnace and applies heat. Why? To remove the impurities from us. Just as one refines gold and silver, so God uses trials and tribulations to make us sparkling as jewels, holy and blameless in his sight. That is why Paul could say in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
Yes, we who are godly may suffer now, but soon we shall be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Yes, we may groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies, but we can take comfort in the thought that we are God's jewels in preparation, his treasured possession. He bought us with the highest price imaginable--the blood of Christ--and we are pearls of great price and beauty in his eyes. It does not matter what others think of us. We can rejoice in knowing what God the Father and Jesus Christ, our heavenly Bridegroom, think of us. We are objects of God's mercy, whom he prepared, Paul says in Romans 9, in advance, not for destruction but for glory.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy and present her to himself as a radiant church, sparkling as jewels. So God says in Malachi 3:17, "They will be mine." We see emphasis in that statement. In other words, God is telling us, "No one else can have you. You are mine. I worked hard for you. You were nothing--rebels and enemies of God--but I am working on you, making you full of radiance and beauty." And in 1 Corinthians 15:52 we read that "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet," we will be changed to that which is imperishable and immortal. The work God has begun in us, he will soon complete.
In Revelation 19 we find a picture of the final work. In verse 6 we read, "'Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.' (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"
This is God's plan. Finally, without blemish and stain, and full of glory, we who have been prepared in advance for glory shall be brought to glory to live in God's presence for all eternity.
Immutability and Salvation
In Malachi 3:6 we find an interesting statement. God says, "I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Change means one is changing for the better or the worse, but God is perfect and he does not change. Our God has committed himself to love us and he is faithful to that commitment. That is why he says he will not destroy us.
Have you ever thought about this? The immutability of God is the reason for our salvation as well as the reason for the judgment of other people. God should have destroyed us long ago for all the times we spoke arrogantly, criticized him and questioned him. But here God is telling us, "You know, church, I am immutable. I am committed to save you; therefore, I will save you." May God be praised!
The arrogant people we read about in Malachi's prophecy thought God was unjust and unfaithful in keeping his promises. They had imposed their own theology and timetable upon God, and he had not acted in accordance with it! But God acts according to his own plan and calendar. In God's time, he sent his Son--born of Mary, born of the family of David--to redeem his people. And it is through the life and death of Jesus Christ that God makes his jewels.
That is what this third chapter of the book of Malachi is about. God is making up his jewels, but he had to come first in humility to die on the cross in order to accomplish that purpose. Could God have made jewels out of sinners if he had not come in human flesh and died on the cross?
In Malachi 3:17 we also learn that God will soon come to judge the arrogant and glorify the godly, that he may delight in his sparkling, precious jewels forever. On that day he will spare the godly in grace as he pours out his wrath upon the wicked. And on that day those who are godly shall be liberated from all the groaning and suffering that has gone into making them into God's precious jewels. This is all God's plan.
The Value of Speaking for God
God uses everything in our lives, especially our suffering, to make us his jewels. I visited a member of this church in the hospital the other day. In the midst of her misery, suffering and pain, this woman is exhibiting a certain sparkle and radiance which is visible to all around her. God is using suffering to make this woman his jewel, and as he does so, she is witnessing to all around her about Christ.
Years ago a Russian Jewish doctor named Boris Kornfeld was working in a prison in the Soviet Union. One day a prisoner who feared the Lord spoke to Dr. Kornfeld about Jesus Christ and Dr. Kornfeld became a Christian. Some time after that, Dr. Kornfeld spoke to a cancer patient about Jesus Christ, even though the man was drifting in and out of consciousness at the time. The next day this patient woke up to the noise of a great altercation, and later discovered that someone had attacked Dr. Kornfeld, hitting him eight times in the head and breaking his skull. Dr. Kornfeld died from his injuries, but the patient became a Christian. He was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets, Vol. 2, [Grand Rapids: 1986, Zondervan Publishing House], pp. 261-2).
Thus, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, those who are God's jewels will speak about Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of great suffering, they want others to know about this great salvation they have experienced.
God made Boris Kornfeld his jewel, and he is making this young woman in the hospital a jewel also. Soon she will be liberated from her sufferings and will be radiant in God's presence. We shall be radiant with her, to the delight of our God.
God Delights in Us
God's jewels bring delight to his heart. We read about this in Isaiah 62:1-5:
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. And in Zephaniah 3:16-17 we read,
On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
When God looks at his jewels, he bursts forth with singing! So he will continue to do his work of making us into jewels, through whatever means he must employ. God does not worry whether we like it or not. His purpose is to make us into jewels, who, in turn, will give pleasure to the very heart of God.
May We Be God's Jewels!
If you are among those who fear the Lord, what can we say to you today? Rejoice! You are God's jewels, his treasured possession. What is the purpose of the trials? To make you sparkle more. The greater the heat, the purer the gold; the harder the washing, the whiter the garment. God is determined to accomplish his purpose of making us perfect, holy, and blameless in his sight.
If, however, you are among the arrogant, the Lord Almighty is also speaking a gracious word to you. In Malachi 3:7 he says, "Return to me, and I will return to you." In other words, God is saying to all who are arrogant and wicked, "Repent. Return to me in penitence, and I will return to you in peace and prosperity."
I hope you will pay attention to the gracious call of God. May you even this day believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. God did not spare his own Son but gave him up so that he could spare you, as we read in Malachi 3:17, "I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him."
May God continue to work in us to make us his jewels! And may we look forward to that day when God will rejoice over us and break forth into singing when he beholds what his hands have made--a church that is glorious, without stain, without wrinkle. One day we will bring pleasure to the heart of him who is the treasure of our heart and our inheritance forever. One day we will see him of whom we sing, "I am my beloved's and he is mine; the banner over us is love." This will be communion and life eternal! Amen.
Copyright © 1999, P. G. Mathew
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® (1984 version). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The "NIV" and "New International Version" are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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