God listens to what we say. He wants to hear us speak to and help each other during these stressful times. He does not like to hear judgmental and condemning conversations among His people, but words of encouragement that spur others into standing fast in God. He likes to hear brethren urging each other to fix their attention on the true teachings of God and to have faith in what He is doing.
Soon, God will make us His jewels, a special treasure for Himself, and those who have conducted themselves wisely will be most prized by Him. We need to realize the dangerous times and attitudes into which we can be dragged. We must stay focused upon what God is working out in our lives and in the lives of others—wherever they may be fellowshipping. By doing so, we can fight against Satan's influences and overcome them in faith. God is preparing His own special, peculiar people (I Peter 2:9), and He will bring them all to a full and wonderful salvation!
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
The Whirlpool of War
The English word translated as "jewels" in verse 17 is not entirely wrong, but it is not a precise translation of what the Hebrew word, segullah (Strong's #5459, transliterated in various ways), really means. The simplest usage of segullah is to indicate personal possession. Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words expounds its meaning (remember that we are being described):
Cegullah signifies property in the special sense of a private possession one personally acquired and carefully preserves. Six times this word is used of Israel as God's personally acquired (elected, delivered from Egyptian bondage, and formed into what He wanted them to be), carefully preserved, and privately possessed people. . . .
This is not the first time this word appears in the Bible, which distinction belongs to Exodus 19:5, "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine." Segullah is translated as "special treasure."
The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary explains:
This manifestation of the love of God to Israel formed only the prelude, however, to that gracious union which Jehovah was now about to establish between the Israelites and Himself. If they would hear His voice, and keep the covenant which was about to be established with them, they should be a costly possession to Him out of all nations. . . . Cagulaah does not signify property in general, but valuable property, that which is laid by, or put aside, hence a treasure of silver and gold. . . .
It is helpful to note how God emphasizes segullah to impress its importance on Israel—and now us—by saying, "For all the earth is Mine." This establishes a reference point, indicating that He could have considered any people on earth as His own personal and private treasure, but He did not. Just as a person carefully and discriminately chooses his personal jewelry according to his own criteria, so He chose Israel then and chooses us now.
In I Chronicles 29:3, segullah is again translated as "special treasure," but the context provides a clear use of the term. It involves the preparations David made for the building of the Temple so Solomon could construct it. David explains that from his own personally obtained and set-aside treasure, he gave so much gold and silver.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift
Malachi wrote in Judea between the return from Babylon and Christ's birth. During that period God's people had grown lackadaisical in their worship, yet a faithful few remained.
"'Your words have been harsh against Me,' says the LORD." God accuses them of calling Him into account for what was happening within the nation. They were experiencing difficult times, just as the people of God have frequently endured difficult times. These are times when we cry out to God, "Why, God? Why are you allowing this to happen? When are you going to intervene?" but He does not seem to be listening.
"Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?'" They did not feel that their accusations were against God, but He gives them an example (verses 14-15).
The faithful can see that these others are not very godly. Maybe they see that "the proud" are sinning openly, breaking the commandments of God. Maybe the proud do not have a submissive, quiet, and gentle spirit. Maybe they are aggressive and assertive, and they maneuvered themselves to the head of the group. And they seemed to be getting away with it!
Notice what these faithful people did in response to the difficult times they were enduring as part of the ekklesia (verse 16). All of God's faithful people should do these things:
1). They feared God. They respected and revered Him. They stood in awe of Him. Some may have even felt an appropriate measure of terror.
2). They thought on His name. They meditated on it. It can suggest that they esteemed His name. They spoke highly of it. They honored Him. They looked to Him, though they were complaining for leadership and guidance. His name, of course, stands for everything that He is. He does not have just one name, He has many names. They show, or advertise, what He is, what He will do, and what He requires.
3). They fellowshipped with one another. No doubt they spoke of their trials and their blessings, about the things that were going on in the ekklesia of that day, of their studies into God's Word, of their plans, of their expectations of the Kingdom of God. God heard! God watched and responded, maybe not when they would have liked Him to respond, but God did respond in His time, when it was right for His purposes.
So will He respond to us!
Then God makes a wonderful promise to those who fear Him: "'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts, 'on that day that I make them My jewels [special treasure—margin]. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him'" (verse 17). In Isaiah 49:15-16, God says, "Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands...." He is watching! He is aware of what is going on, and He will act!
John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!
Verses 13-15 contain a complaint of the people about the difficulty of God's way. They see things within the nation that are unfair. Those who are really assertive and aggressive, those with a lot of carnal drive and energy, are getting ahead. "What good is it to be godly?" they ask. God replies to them with a promise in verses 16-17. He does not say that He would end the injustice right then.
God shows that His ear is on our conversations. Psalm 139 tells us that His Spirit goes everywhere! He is aware. He is not really judgmental, but He is aware of what is happening, and He wants to encourage us to grow.
This instruction is intended for the church at the time of the end, to encourage those who are genuinely trying to be faithful to God yet who feel frustrated and doubtful because of what they see going on around them. So God replies with this encouragement to those who speak on His name. This refers to those who have the Word of God in their minds and hearts and are speaking to one another about the wonderful fellowship with God we have been drawn into. They are tying God into all aspects of their lives.
God says He is making a book of remembrance, and He will reward these people for their faithfulness. It is obvious that what these people are meditating on and talking about is God's name and what is contained within their hearts, and it is good. This reveals a major purpose for the Sabbath: to get God's Word into our hearts, minds, and consciences. He is a part of our lives, and we need to think about Him being a part of them. Do we see God? That is what this is about. Do we see Him as a part of our lives? Do we see Him as a part of our futures? When we do, then we find ourselves talking about it.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 5)