During a usually gloomy time of Israel's history, the people were noted for their departure from God. God was not honored, and the priests "despised" His holy name, even offering "polluted bread" upon His altar. Instead of bringing spotless sacrifices to Him as the Law commanded, they offered "blind," "lame," and "sick" for sacrifice (Mal. 1:6-8). Rather than honoring God's name, they "profaned" it, disgracing Him among the nations (Mal. 1:12). So despised was the name of the Lord that they offered animals killed in the wilds by other beasts, or "torn" in accidental death (1:13). The "whole nation" "robbed" God, and thus were "cursed with a curse" (Mal. 3:8-10). It is difficult to conceive of a condition more displeasing to God.

Yet, even during this time--a time of cursing--there was a remnant that thought enough of God to meet together. We are provided a record of their resolve, and God's response to it. "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. 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" (Mal. 3:16,17).

First, observe the wickedness of the times constrained this godly remnant to meet together often. They were not lulled into complacency by the times. Neither did they become bitter because of them. The corruption of the era seemed to bring them together rather than drive them apart.

Second, they saw the need of speaking to each other. The subject of their conversation was not the difficulties or hopelessness of the times. Their nation was under the curse of Almighty God, but it did not stop them from the consideration of the good things of God. We are informed they "thought upon His name," constrained by their fear of God.

Third, God took note of their gatherings, listening to their conversations. Because of the wickedness of the times, these were probably secret gatherings. Others did not hear them, but God did.

Fourth, God determined to "spare" them when judgment fell upon their nation. He considered them "jewels" to adorn His crown. He viewed them as "His own son" that served Him. Our assemblies bare much resemblance to those of Malachi's time. We conduct them in the midst of difficult times: times when religion is not noted for its purity. All around us, people are offering to God the residue of their lives instead of the best of them. But we must not be affected by this situation. As we come together to think upon His name, considering His character and work through Christ, we will gain the attention of heaven. His "book of remembrance" is still being "written," and there is no reason why your assembly cannot be included in it.