When I Make Up My Jewels
by Jack M. Lane
In Malachi chapter 3, the King James Version, in its lofty and poetic style, with grandeur of language reminiscent of Shakespeare, paints a lovely picture of God making up his jewels, which includes those who love Him, worship Him, follow Him, and obey Him. It is my hope that we will all be among those jewels that God assembles.
Here’s how the passage reads in the King James:
13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
18 Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
The modern translations don’t talk about “jewels” in verse 16, but rather a treasure – a special treasure, or a peculiar treasure. That is the better translation. The Hebrew word doesn’t specifically refer to gemstones, as you’d put in a crown, but rather to a valuable treasure of some kind.
So God will gather us together, not to be diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, but to be a special treasure of another kind – His children, His family, and co-heirs with Christ.
Do you feel like a special treasure to God? We talk about it a lot. We have this foundation in our thinking that says, “God called me into this faith, and He has great plans for me. I’m God’s kid, so that makes me kind of special.” But do we really deep-down believe that we, the faithful in His loving hands, are a special treasure to Him?
This song, this quote, is from the book of Malachi, which is a message from God to the Levitical priests of Malachi’s day. By extension, priests, ministers, pastors, and every member of every congregation, can learn something from it. So let’s turn there and learn something from it.
Malachi 1:6-14 (New Living Translation):
6 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ “You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.
8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.
11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table.
13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!”
Here we see a priesthood that has lost its way. God set up this priesthood for Israel, to help Israel be a nation of kings and priests, but something went wrong. How could they lead the nation in righteousness when they themselves were corrupt? God continues in chapter 2:
5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name.
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin.
7 “The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out my instructions.”
God goes on to criticize the priests of Malachi’s day for the things they did. Then He gives this wonderful prophecy of the coming of our Lord, in chapter 3:
1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.
3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.
4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.
God goes on to show that He is willing to take his priests back, just as He is always willing to take any of us back when we stray. Jumping to verse 13:
13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?
15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’“
Does that sound at all familiar? Does that sound at all like today’s world we live in?
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.
17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child.
18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
God is describing two different types of people in the book of Malachi. He talks about the Levitical priests, those who should know better, but who choose to be less than honorable about their duties. Then He talks about another group of people, with an entirely different approach.
By the way, let me assure you that I don’t have an agenda in bringing you this message. I’m not saying that your ministry, and those who serve you, are terrible people, or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong. But we can certainly learn lessons about life and living from looking at how people who are called by God to a special life can drag that calling through the mud by their behavior and their attitude.
On the other hand, God has started something new, something special, in His church. God calls people nowadays, not because they are descended from Levi or Aaron, but because He wants to have us in His family, as His precious treasure, His loving children.
So, to help us dig a little deeper into the colors and flavors of this text, I’d like to break down these verses into little phrases, and then address each one in turn.
1. Then those who feared the Lord
We know what it means to fear the Lord. We’re not afraid of Him. At least, we’re not supposed to be. Do you have any reason to be afraid of God, or God’s wrath, or the punishment of God? If you have a fear of the wrath of God, it might be time to face that. It might be time to address some areas of your life that need fixing. But for most of us, we fear God in the sense of reverencing Him, standing in awe of Him, bowing down and humbling ourselves before the King.
This attitude, this love of God, was sadly lacking throughout much of Israel’s history, until God had given Israel enough time and enough warning, and He simply let another country come in and take them over and deport them far away from the Promised Land.
Unfortunately, this attitude, the love of God, is also lacking in our society today. As we watch helplessly as the world around us slips more and more into atheism, materialism, and hedonism, we must not let ourselves go with them down the slippery slope.
These people in Malachi, those who fear the Lord, have the kind of reverence for God that causes them to stay away from evil, and to obey God’s rules for their lives. In fact, even if we didn’t have a pure reverence for God, we might want to consider living God’s ways anyway, because there are rewards for those who do. We might call it “enlightened self-interest.”
It’s not the purest motive for obeying God, but it’s a starting place. I think a lot of saints started that way. “If I obey God, He’s going to give me some goodies, or protect me from the Great Tribulation.” Then, as the relationship between us and God grows and develops, we begin to see the goodness and greatness of God. Then we grow to love Him because of who He is, rather than because of what He might give us, or what He might do for us.
That growing love causes us to want to obey Him. That growing relationship causes us to feel the warmth and acceptance from the King of the universe, who also happens to be our Dad. That growing relationship causes us to feel the kind of warmth we might not experience in our relationships with humans, or with wealth, or with possessions. This is what happens to those who fear the Lord.
2. those who feared the Lord spoke with each other
The King James says they spoke often with one another. Do we speak often with one another? Are we on the phone with folks from our own congregation or fellowship group, just saying howdy, keeping up with our exciting lives, helping each other through tough times, exhorting each other to live the best way, shoring up the saints with prayer and visits and material help when needed?
Do we wait until Sabbath to see each other and talk to each other? I’m afraid I tend to let that happen. I just get too busy during the week. But I sure enjoy seeing people on Sabbath.
My wife is better at getting on the phone and staying in touch. Then she tells me what’s going on. I’m afraid that will have to do, since I don’t always have the time to call my friends and family during the week.
It’s kind of sad. It’s what our modern society has done to us. At least I can reach out and touch someone with an e-mail once in awhile.
If we want to be God’s special treasure, we want to note that those who fear the Lord speak often with one another.
3. and the Lord listened to what they said.
When we get together, when we counsel each other, when we share what we’ve learned in the Bible, when we let someone know about some triumph in our lives, when we listen lovingly as someone tells us about the pain they’re going through, when we exhort each other to try harder and do better, when we make discouraging remarks about others, when we criticize someone for something they have done or said, when we get down in the dumps and wonder if it’s at all worthwhile to live this way, when we edify someone and encourage them to overcome a sin, when we mentor another member of the faith to help them do better with their family, when we vent to each other because we think our lives should be going better – guess who is listening!
When we don’t pray, when we don’t visit with each other, when we stay home instead of getting together on Sabbaths, when we don’t have conversations about the exciting life we lead and the wonderful truths we know – guess who is wondering where we are.
I have been in congregations where the folks visit with each other after services and talk about their cars, their jobs, sports, who killed President Kennedy, and all sorts of things that didn’t really sound to me like the kind of talk they should be sharing when the Lord is listening to what they said.
I’ve been in other groups that are truly serious about this calling, who are truly immersed in their thoughts, words, and actions, and who are focused on this way of life.
4. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written
God is so tuned in to what we say and do that He actually has a way of recording and remembering our names, and what we say, and how we approach this whole way of life. It may not be a scroll, or a book, or a computer, but He has some way of recording information that He considers important about what His kids are doing down here.
5. to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name
A book, at the throne of God, with our names in it. I can’t help but think that this might be the Lamb’s Book of Life in Revelation.
Revelation 3:5 (NIV):
5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
On the other hand –
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Finally, describing the Holy City:
27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
If this book of remembrance in Malachi is the same as the Lamb’s Book of Life, it’s an important book indeed. If our names are being written in it, even as we live, that can only be a good thing.
6. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
One of the common threads throughout the various relationships God has established with people is the concept that “I will be their God, and they will be My people.” It’s a feature common to both the Old Testament and the New Testament. That’s why God created people! He wants to be in relationship with us.
He wants to have a large, happy family of kids who love Him and love each other, who can get along without quarreling, always look to our Father, live according to the rules He has set for His people, and create a happy playground here on earth.
7. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure.
Just that thought. All by itself. Let’s look at it in several translations.
Malachi 3:17 (Holman): “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of Hosts, “a special possession on the day I am preparing.
New American Standard Version: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession,
Today’s English Version: “They will be my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “On the day when I act, they will be my very own.
English Standard Version: “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession,
New Century Version: The Lord All-Powerful says, “They belong to me; on that day they will be my very own.
New English Translation: “They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property.
Revised Standard Version: “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act,
World English Bible: “They shall be mine,” says Yahweh of Armies, “my own possession in the day that I make,
Good News Translation: “They will be my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “On the day when I act, they will be my very own.
Do you want this? Do you see yourself in this?
On the day that God sends the powerful Messiah that so many people have been waiting for, to come rescue this planet from the hell of war, to raise us from the dead to rule at his side, to establish his throne on this earth, to bring in a thousand years of peace – are you there, in that picture, somewhere?
I hope so. I want to see you there.