Malachi 3:16 mentions a “book of remembrance” written before the LORD. And what are remembered in this book? The verse continues about what the book is for: “…for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” In this day and age when many, if not most, people have forgotten about the fear of God, it is a mighty serious matter that we retain, recapture or begin to have, the proper fear of God. Otherwise God will also forget us and not keep us in His “book of remembrance.”
The Bible abundantly teaches that those who fear God “depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7; 16:6, 17: 14:16; Isaiah 59:19-20, etc.). They turn from their evil and wicked ways and move toward the opposite: the good and righteous ways of God.
Deuteronomy 6:1-3 has Moses telling the children of Israel: “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you…”
Then Verses 4-5 continue: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” [To understand better the concept of God’s “oneness,” see: The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered.]
To truly love God, Jesus said, is to keep His commandments: “If you love Me [the LORD of the Old Testament who became Jesus; see: The True Christ, Peter Knew “The Holy One,“ The Law of Christ, Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries? and A Great Omission in Doing the “Great Commission”], keep My commandments….He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me” (John 14:15, 21).
The apostle John also wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Loving and fearing God go well together! [See: Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time?]
Loving the brethren
Malachi 3:16 actually starts with: “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them.”
Those who fear the LORD are in a community. They communicate with one another. And God listens to and hears their communications! Those who truly fear God will have positive, upbuilding communications with one another.
John speaks volumes about this where he writes: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2).
God warns against making “corrupt” or “filthy” communications especially with our fellow-believers in Christ (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8).
The law of God — both in the Old Testament and the New — is all about how to love God and how to love our neighbor (Matthew 22:35-40; 7:12). If, as God promised, the law of God is written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), the words that come out of our lips will be guided accordingly, “For out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Not only are our words kept in God’s “book of remembrance.” God also remembers our good deeds — especially toward our brethren in Christ, “For God is not unjust to forget [He remembers!] your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name in that you have ministered to the saints [the brethren of Jesus Christ], and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).
In the final judgment Jesus will receive into — or reject from — His kingdom human beings according to what good they have done, or not done, to even the least of Christ’s brethren (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus said that His true brothers (or family) are those who do the will of the Father (Matthew 12:50). [See: Are We All God’s Children?] Doing good to His brethren is tantamount to doing good to Jesus Christ Himself.
In Matthew 18:5 Jesus affirms that whatever good one does in His name to a child of God is also done for Him — it shows that one has received Him as well.
Malachi 3:16 rightly says that God’s “book of remembrance” is also for those who “meditate on His name.”
A separate book?
Although God’s Word does not spell it out, God’s “book of remembrance” appears to be a different or separate book from The Book of Life. It would seem like it is that book where David’s delighting in God’s will and God’s law being in David’s heart are recorded (Psalm 40:7-8), as are David’s wanderings and tears (Psalm 56:8).
Whatever the truth of God’s Word is, of this we can be certain: the “book of remembrance” is a vital adjunct to the “Book of Life.” Why? Because, in the final judgment, one’s name will be retained or blotted out from the “Book of Life” according to one’s works, as recorded in God’s “book of remembrance.”
Ezekiel 18:21-24 gives us this encouraging, as well as sobering, revelation about God’s judgment: “‘But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all the the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
‘But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.'”
God’s elect already in the Book of Life
Ephesians 1:4 shows that true Christians have been “elected” or chosen to become holy and blameless — and that “before the foundation of the world” [before there was ever any human society]. And that certainly, also, even long, long before Christians are born!
In contrast, Revelation 17:8 shows that wicked people — who will give themselves over to the dominion of the symbolic “beast” [see: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”] — do not yet have their names written in the Book of Life [in the registry of those predestined to be saved in this age; see: Predestination]. Their time to be eventually saved is yet in the future. [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
David and the Book of Life
In Psalm 139:13-16 Israel’s King David already had a vision of how God forms every human embryo or fetus in its mother’s womb — long before the age of ultrasound and later more modern devices like MRI, and who knows what next? In Verse 16 David adds: “And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
Here David shows that even the length or number of days he was to live had already been written in God’s “book” — obviously God’s “Book of Life.” It is, after all, God’s divine prerogative [see: The Divine Prerogatives] to give life and take it back, as He pleases. It would seem that David was doubly in the “Book of Life” as all human beings who have ever been given physical life, as well as in the register in that book of those who have been predestined to receive everlasting life in this age (Ephesians 1:4).
And certainly, in God’s “book of remembrance,” David’s sins (and they were many and grave!) have been blotted out and no longer remembered against David (Psalm 51:1-2; 103:11-13). His righteous deeds will be remembered (Psalm 7:8; 18:24). He will not die but live! He will be in the resurrection at Christ’s return — not only as an immortal and ever-living son of God, but as King of all Israel forever (Ezekiel 37:21-24; 44-48).
A word to the wise
Daniel 12:9-10 shows that at “the time of the end” — our times now! — “none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” words or precepts of God that have been kept closed and sealed over the past centuries. Jesus foretold that, even among His own people, there will be those [about 50% of them] who will be wise but also those [the other 50%] who will be foolish (Matthew 25:1-13).
The wise among God’s people are those who fear God, meditate on His name, and love each other (Malachi 3:16) — as Jesus commands, “…as I have loved you” (John 13:34). [See: The Law of Christ and Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries?] They are the ones whose good deeds are remembered in God’s “book of remembrance.” [See: Saved for Good Works.] They are the ones whose names remain in God’s “Book of Life.” They are the ones who are blessed by God because they “…do His commandments” and will “have the right to the tree of life [will have everlasting life],” and “…may enter through the gates into the city [the holy city, the New Jerusalem]” (Revelation 22:14; 21:1-2, etc.).
Will you wise up?
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.