Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD listened, and heard it…
Then they that feared the Lord stake often one to another," etc. We shall use these words to illustrate genuine religion, and three things are noteworthy -
I. THE ESSENCE OF GENUINE RELIGION. "They that feared the Lord." The men who fear God may be divided into two classes.
1. Those who fear him with a slavish fear. The unrenewed millions when they think of him at all dread him; their guilty consciences invest him with attributes of such horror that they shudder at the idea of him, they flee from his presence. "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." All that is superstitious in the world, all that is barbaric in the religion of Christendom, spring from this dread of God.
2. Those who fear him with a filial fear. The fear which a loving child has for a worthy and noble sire. There is, perhaps, always a kind of fear in connection with true love. We fear, not that the object will harm us, but that we may harm or displease the object. Our fear is that we shall not please the object up to the measure of our intense desire. The fear of genuine religion is not the fear of suffering, but the fear of sin, not for the consequences of wrong, but for the fact of wrong. This filial fear with all is the beginning of wisdom.
II. THE SOCIALITY OF GENUINE RELIGION. "Spake often one to another." We are social beings, and what interests us most has the chief power in bringing us together. Nothing interests a religious man so much as religion. Hence the few good people living in this corrupt age of Malachi met and "spake often one to another." Spoke, no doubt, in language of mutual instruction, mutual comfort, mutual exhortation. There is no force in the world so socializing as religion; it brings souls together, and centres them in a common object of love, in a common current of sympathy, in a common course of life.
III. THE WORTH OF GENUINE RELIGION. See what God does with the genuinely religious.
1. He specially attends to them. "The Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them." This does not, of course, mean literally that God keeps a book, or that he has any difficulty in remembering what takes place. It is an anthropomorphism, a symbolizing of the special interest of God.
2. He claims them as his own. "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts." My friends, my children, mine to love and serve me.
3. He appreciates them as precious. "In that day when I make up my jewels." The word here rendered "jewels" in Exodus (Exodus 19:5) rendered "peculiar treasure." "They are peculiarly precious to me." He knows the worth of their existence, the cost of their restoration, the greatness of their capabilities.
4. He distinguishes them from all others. Here they are so mixed with worldly and worthless men that they are mostly undiscerned and undistinguished. One day he will separate them, the sheep from the goats.
CONCLUSION. To attain religion should be the supreme aim of our life. It is not a means to an end; it is the grand end of being; it is the Paradise of soul. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.