“Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” (Mal 3:15)
In the prophecy of Malachi, he is basically having a conversation between God and those who are questioning Him. A complaint they had is a complaint that we can still hear today. ‘But look at all the people who turn their back on God. They prosper, make money, get famous. They have it all. They mock God and we still see no judgement.’ This is the type of short sighted thinking that misses the point.
It is easy to get confused about rewards and punishments or judgments we see in this world and think they matter in the big picture. The truth is… they don’t. True and total justice will not take place in this world. To be ‘true’ and ‘total’, it can only take place in eternity.
Malachi continues after this banter between God and the naysayers. He reminds his audience (which includes you and I now) that God’s true and total justice is much more long term than others may understand.
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. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
– Mal 3:16-18
God says not until then will we truly see the ‘distinction between the righteous and the wicked’. There will be temporary rewards and judgments throughout this world, but they will all be temporary. During this time, there is no verifiable distinction between the righteous and the wicked. But the ‘Book of Remembrance’ will be the true and total distinction.
Three verses in Romans say it all. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) This means that none of us actually belong in that book of remembrance because we have all fallen short. As a result, “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23a) So if none of us deserve to be in the book, and all have fallen short, this is why there is no distinction between the righteous and the wicked. How then does that distinction occur? Only through the free gift of grace are we saved. That third Romans verse gives us the answer.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9) Only through this salvation in Christ Jesus can your name be written in the book. And once it’s in the book, there is now distinction for that day of final judgement.
As the ‘writing on the wall’ in Daniel 5 states, ‘Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.” (Dan 5:27) Believe and confess and be saved, be written in the Book of Remembrance.
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