We may humbly bless our God that our names are written in the Book of Life. Paul writes appreciatively of this concerning certain of his fellow labourers (Phil 4.3). Sovereign grace wrote our names in that wonderful book. Before the foundation of the world the divine counsels of grace were framed for the glory of Christ, and, wonder of wonders, sinners like ourselves are privileged to have a place and portion in those counsels.
But Scripture speaks of books other than the Book of Life. In Malachi 3.16 mention is made of a book of remembrance and Isaiah 65.6 suggests a book of records. Although we had no part when He wrote our names in the Book of Life, it is different with these other books. Our own behaviour determines what is written therein. This is a serious thought for us all, for nothing escapes the eye of God. The writer of Psalm 139 was deeply impressed with this fact.
The book of Malachi describes the condition of the Jewish remnant a century or more after their release from Babylon. The zeal and devotion which shone forth in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah had declined, and a cold orthodoxy characterised the people. In this midst of this painful condition there were some who appreciated what Jehovah was for His people and who delighted to speak to one another about Him: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another". The fear of God has an important place in the book of Malachi. Abject fear is not meant but, rather, deep reverence and holy awe.
The God-fearing ones in the days of Malachi were a real delight to the heart of God. While the imposing ritual of Judaism was pursuing its heartless way, more an irritation to Him than a joy, He observed twos and threes who delighted to speak to one another about Himself. His covenant name, Jehovah, was precious to them. Its sacred meaning was their continual meditation, and they sought to extract from it all the sweetness possible (Ex 6.2-8). A personal God rather than a round of ceremonies was their daily joy. Such persons, like Simeon and Anna in Luke 2, will never be forgotten. In God's book of remembrance their names and deeds are indelibly written. He will signalize them in the day when He makes up His jewels, and their present reward was a discerning mind. They were able to distinguish between the precious and the vile (Jer 15.19; Mal 3.17-18).
We are living in the last days of unfaithful Christendom. In the address to the assembly in Laodicea there is described what the holy eye of the Lord sees. Pride, coldness, indifference - how painful. But note His tender appeal: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Rev 3.20). This is intensely individual, for devotedness to Christ is rarely found in masses. How pleasant it is for Him to behold even a few coming together, whether in public or in private, to be occupied with Him supremely. But those who appreciate the Lord naturally draw together as was the experience of the Psalmist: "I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts" (Ps 119.63). Is He really the chief object of our meetings? Is He uppermost in our conversation at the dinner table?
Isaiah 65.6 shows us another side of things. In the preceding verses Jehovah speaks indignantly concerning the condition of Israel. Along with the deplorable laxity of morals there was pride of position as the accredited people of God. They even boasted of their separation, saying to others, "Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou". Do we wonder that Jehovah adds, "These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day" (65.5)? It is possible to have a correct position, and yet be in a low spiritual condition.
Thus reality, as in Malachi 3.16, is written before God, and also unreality as in Isaiah 65.6. Let us challenge our hearts as to these things. What is the Recorder writing in His books of us? Our ecclesiastical position may be unassailable, and easily demonstrated from the Word of God, but unless we are holy men and women, with hearts aflame with affection for Christ, what is the position worth?