There are a fair number of old-timers here! Do you remember the days before Sunday School songs were about eating Bart Simpson getting you to eat his shorts? They even had hymns written specifically for children. Do you recall the one that went: [P]
“When He cometh when He cometh to make up His jewels;
All His jewels, precious jewels, His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning.
They will shine in their beauty bright gems for His crown.”?
The song is taken from the book of Malachi [P] [Malachi 3:17 “They shall be Mine”, says יהוה of armies, in the day when I make up My treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.] The song may also be an alluding to [Zechariah 9:16 And יהוה their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling in His land.] But you will notice that although there are pictures of jewels accompanying that verse, there is no mention of jewels up there in that verse which is taken from the English Standard Version. Instead it talks about a “treasured possession” – the same phrase used in the NASB that I read from. So where are the jewels? [P] Who stole the Jewels? Well Alex and Haydn have got jewels in their Bibles. The King James Bible reads: [P] [Malachi 3:17 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.] So the “jewels” [P] in the King James are “treasured possession” or “special treasure” [P], or something similar, in most other translations. But it is an interesting word, and I thought that we might have a look at it today. Usually I speak on several verses, even a whole chapter; I have on occasion spoken on just one verse – today it is just one word! The word is “סְגֻלָּה” [P] – not that that means much. It only occurs in the Bible just 8 times – so it’s nice and easy to do an exhaustive word study. While the word occurs only eight times, it is filled with theological and spiritual treasures. So what does it mean? At first the word just meant a private accumulation of money or other wealth – personally gained, carefully tended, private property. That is what it means in [P] [Ecclesiastes 2:8 Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.] Here was Solomon, in His search for wisdom and what life was all about, investigating life to the full – he was investigating whether there was satisfaction in accumulating material wealth, treasure – all he found was futility. Ecclesiastes reports that the accumulation of the finest of personal possessions is sheer vanity. The treasure of silver and gold, the wealth of this world, can never fully satisfy – you just want to get more! There is far more satisfaction in using in for the LORD’s service – that is what David did: he stocked up vast amounts of wealth for the purpose of building a house for his God: [P] [1 Chronicles 29:3 “Moreover, in my delight in the house of my God, the treasure I have of gold and silver, I give to the house of my God, over and above all that I have already provided for the holy temple,]. Again סְגֻלָּה just means material treasure, wealth. In both these cases it indicates “a particular portion of one’s possessions not used for ordinary purposes but saved for a special purpose” and so it is distinguished from other words for “possession” or “property”. But then the sense of סְגֻלָּה changed slightly, it was extended to denote anything highly valued because of the effort in acquiring it – so it wasn’t just possessions, it was treasured possession – highly valued! It is treasure – of great value, precious. What is precious to you? What do you treasure? When we were kids we loved stories about treasure; you know pirates and hidden chests full of gold coins and gems. I can remember as a child reading the true story of the discovery of king Tutankhamen’s tomb by Howard Carter and all the real treasure that was discovered. [P] Precious things – so valuable that Tutankhamen wanted to take them with him when he died – he never did, it’s all still in a museum in Cairo! Why do you value something? Because you have to work for it, it cost you in time and effort, in the investment of resources. If it comes easy, you don’t appreciate it. I knew two people who won major lotteries – in both cases the money quickly dissipated and they were back pretty much where they were. [Proverbs 20:21 An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.] Robin treasures the guitars he makes because of the time and effort put into them. Why are our children precious to us? Because of the love, time, training invested in them. They are ours, our own – not the mere obtaining of a possession but treasured possession. So the basic meaning of “סְגֻלָּה” [P] is “personal property” [P]; but it developed into the idea of: “valued property, peculiar treasure”, a “treasured possession” [P] and associated with that was the idea was that which יהוה has chosen (בחר) [P] and taken to Himself; in this sense it is only used of the people of Israel [P]. So here are the two meanings of the word as rendered by the NASB [P]; the NKJV is not so consistent in the way it translates it, rendering in 4 different ways, one of which is “jewels” in this verse in Malachi [P] – and the KJV uses 5 different expressions to translate this one word that only occurs 8 times – that makes it a bit tricky to follow when doing a word study. One of those expressions used in the KJV is a little strange, it is the term “peculiar people”; and although I am sure that is quite true of the people of God; that is not what the word means! God’s people, Israel, are precious to Him, He chose them, they are His own, He has invested a great deal of personal care and commitment in them; He treasures them. [Exodus 6:6-7 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am יהוה, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (יהוה did a great deal for them, took action on their behalf with mighty power, redeemed them, bought them for Himself, so that they would be His own) ‘Then I will take you for My people, (His own possession) and I will be your God;] There is no one else like them; they are highly valued in His estimation. He invested a great deal in order that they become His people, His possession, His treasured possession. That is סְגֻלָּה! We belong to Him – His own possession! Hallelujah!
“Jesus my Lord will love me forever
From Him no power or evil can sever
He gave His life to ransom my soul
Now I belong to Him
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me;
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity”
We have looked at two occurrences of “סְגֻלָּה”; the other six uses refer not to material property, but are used with a more spiritual sense, and they refer to the people of Israel. It first occurs in the Bible in: [P] [Exodus 19:5-6 (this was when Moses first went up Mount Sinai to meet יהוה, just prior to the giving of the תּוֹרָה and the covenant making Israel His people:) ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”] All the earth is His, but they would be יהוה’s special treasure; among all the peoples of the earth, Israel would be special, they would belong to Him: “be Mine!” He had redeemed them out of Egypt – they were His personal possession by right of redemption. יהוה invested great personal effort to take them for His own. How wonderful! What a privilege! Yet, you notice, it is conditional: “IF you will obey My voice, if you will keep My covenant”. This privileged status was based on covenant relationship. And, just referring back to Malachi for a moment, you will remember that it was the covenant that the people of Israel in Malachi’s day had despised and disregarded – six times “covenant” is mentioned in Malachi – it says they had “profaned it”, and that they had “corrupted it”. They had forfeited this honoured position. You see exactly the same idea in Deuteronomy 26 – the focus again is on Israel hearing and obeying יהוה, keeping the covenant: [P] [Deuteronomy 26:16-19 “This day יהוה your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. “You have today declared יהוה to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. יהוה has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honour; and that you shall be a consecrated people to יהוה your God, as He has spoken.”] “Be careful to do them with all your heart and soul” – but what we saw in Malachi was that their heart just wasn’t in it. יהוה wanted them to be special to Himself, a holy people, but they wanted to be like those in the world around them – and we can be just the same, desire to be like those amongst whom we live. Holiness is about being separate, different, distinct. In [P] [Deuteronomy 7:6 it reads “For you are a holy people to יהוה your God; יהוה your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.] – you see that being this treasured possession is because יהוה had chosen them. [P] From man’s viewpoint there was the onus to obey and keep the covenant; but from God’s point of view, they were chosen – it is His doing. God sovereignly set aside a people for Himself. They are a holy people. [P] It is His doing! It says precisely the same thing in [P] [Deuteronomy 14:2 “For you are a holy people to יהוה your God, and יהוה has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.] In chapter 7 the context is a warning about mixing and compromising with the people of the land – you, know wanting to be like those around us in the world. We are to be separate, different, holy. We are set aside to יהוה as His special treasure; not ordinary like those who are not His. In chapter 14 the context is about being holy by observing certain dietary laws. It is the holy, those set apart to יהוה, those whom He has chosen, who are His treasured possession. In these verses in Deuteronomy and Exodus, Moses reminded Israel that God chose her and redeemed her from bondage not because of her goodness, but solely because He loved her and was faithful to the promises given to the patriarchs. In response Israel should reflect God’s holiness and live out his commandments (Deut 14:2ff.), reflecting His standards in a life of wholehearted compliance with the terms of the covenant made at Sinai (Ex 19:5-6) and which was renewed at their entrance into Canaan. If they did then would they have good success (Deut 26:16-19). So we also should respond to God’s goodness and grace in making us His own. This idea of being “chosen” is again seen in Psalm 135 – it is titled in my Bible: “Praise to God for His power and redemption”. It is full of praise for God’s greatness, His sovereignty, His mighty deeds to make Israel His own: [Psalm 135:1-6 Praise יהוה! Praise the Name of יהוה; Praise Him, O servants of יהוה, you who stand in the house of יהוה, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise יהוה, for יהוה is good; sing praises to His Name, for it is lovely. For יהוה has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession. For I know that יהוה is great and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever יהוה pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.] [P] [Psalm 135:4 For יהוה has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession. (“סְגֻלָּה”)], again it refers to His people Israel; but, wonderfully, you notice that it is Jacob that יהוה chose – you know, Jacob the twister, the deceiver, the schemer; Israel before he was touched by יהוה. It is while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! He redeemed us when we were going our own way, chose us before the foundation of the world. Praise God that He chose Jacob – otherwise I would never be His. So the key concepts of “סְגֻלָּה” are first of all: [P] POSSESSION, and that possession is [P] PERSONAL, “you are Mine”; and because of all that His has invested in them they are [P] PRECIOUS to Him – “סְגֻלָּה” a precious personal possession. So, to get back to the prophecy of Malachi: [P] [Malachi 3:16-18 Then those who feared יהוה spoke to one another, and יהוה gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear יהוה and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says יהוה of armies, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.] Those who fear יהוה become His peculiar possession whom He will never forget, even in that time of great judgment (Mal 3:16-18). Remember what was going on: Israel refused to respond to יהוה and His call to repent. But there were God-fearers among them. These few, the remnant, banded together with יהוה their topic of conversation and meditation. יהוה took notice of these who were sincere in heart in the worship of Him. He heard them. He rejected the nation as a whole but this remnant would be His, His special possession, “סְגֻלָּה”. No longer was the whole nation His treasured possession, but a remnant, chosen and faithful to Him in a time of pervading apostasy. Judgement would come on the nation; but these that were His, would be spared. Bless His Name! Those that fear יהוה will be His. "They will be Mine!” says יהוה. Hallelujah! He is going to make up a people for His own possession – His inheritance [Deuteronomy 4:20 “But יהוה has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today. ] “Possession” in this verse is not “סגלּה”, but the word is “inheritance”. You hear of people inheriting a vast estate. It is of extreme value – not only in financial terms, I don’t expect that I will inherit a fortune, but there is value because of the emotional tie – the love of the one from whom it came. God’s inheritance, that which is of value and is coming to Him at the end of the age, is His people. What does God treasure?! I mean, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth is יהוה’s and everything in it, if He wanted anything, He could create it. So what could He find of value, that would be of extreme preciousness to Him? His treasure is His people! That is His inheritance, that is His treasured possession. Israel is His treasured possession, but the trouble is that we are not Israel, we were not His people. We were [Ephesians 2:12 at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.]. We were spiritually out to it. The wonder is that God made us who were not His people, into His people. [Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.] We became His inheritance! Hallelujah! [Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, (He chose and then He called) what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, ] – the saints are יהוה’s inheritance, His own special possession! Hallelujah! We are what He treasures! He will spare them "On the day" it said in Malachi – that “day” is the Day of the LORD, when Jesus returns and the sons of God are revealed (Rom 8:19). On that day, those that are truly His will be revealed and separated from the mass that had religion only as superstition, form and appearances – it was empty, they bore no fruit. Remember the tares, sown amongst the wheat; but that bore no crop? They looked just like the wheat but they were torn up at harvest time [Matthew 13:39-43 the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.] יהוה will gather together those who are His – His special possession, His treasure. He spares them when all the rest are destroyed. This has been His intention from the beginning. Those who fear יהוה become His peculiar possessions whom He will never forget, even in that time of great judgement. The rest of mankind will be judged, but His own will be spared as a son is spared. Spared because they serve יהוה and not themselves. He will have compassion upon them in that dreadful day of judgement. So what does סגלּה denote in this verse in Malachi? It denotes the remnant of Israel who are faithful to יהוה, for they fulfil the covenantal obligations. They will be spared on the Day of the Lord, when יהוה comes to execute justice and begin His reign. Always the context of “סגלּה” is associated with holiness, consecration, a people set apart to God by their obedience to Him, a priesthood that worships in Spirit and in Truth, sincere and genuine. Always the context is one of purity, separation, the LORD's inheritance, His return. Such are יהוה's special treasure, precious to Him, His own! These He will spare (2x in this verse) – it is an emotional response which results in action to remove its object from impending difficulty – just as a father wants to spare his son from trouble, or as Pharaoh’s daughter spared Moses – her heart went out to him. The ancient Greek translation of “סגלּה” in this verse in Malachi clearly expresses that Israel must again be “acquired” by יהוה through an act of grace. And if you follow that sane Greek word used to translate “סגלּה” into the New Testament you find that this word is referred to in there. These verse that we have read from the תּוֹרָה, from Exodus and Deuteronomy, are doubtless alluded to in (Tit 2:14 and 1 Pet 2:9). Titus has the idea that we are His precious possession because of the cost and effort made in purchasing us, redeeming us: [P] Talking of Jesus it says: [Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.] What a cost to purchase this treasure! [1 Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ!] It cost the life of God’s beloved Son! No wonder that which was purchased was precious! And we are that treasure! Hallelujah! Precious! Treasured! Of extreme value, not because of our intrinsic value, our beauty, intellect, skill; but because we are bought with the blood of Jesus! It had nothing to do with us – it was God’s doing. He decided to make us His own; He is the one that chose us! [P] [1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; ] Again the concept of being chosen is associated with us being God’s precious possession. Because we are redeemed, bought with His blood, we are not our own. [1 Corinthians 6:19-20 you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. ] We are יהוה’s possession: [P] [Ephesians 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.] See how all these NT references to God’s possession mention redemption. How wonderful to be God’s treasure, His own precious possession that He values highly! What an honour! What a privilege! But this honour and privilege is for those who are His people. Rebels, those who go their own way, are not יהוה’s people – they are sinners and sin is abhorrent to יהוה. That is what we are: [Isaiah 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.] The wonder is that [Romans 9:25-26 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ” “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”] Hallelujah! How did this come about? Because [Isaiah 53:6 יהוה has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.] It came about by redemption – God reconciled those that were His enemies, made them His friends by removing their sin as far as the east is from the west. Jesus said: [Matthew 26:28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.] [1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. ] [2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.] It took the death of God’s Son! Infinite cost! That is why we become a treasured possession because so much was invested in purchasing us! Remember the context in Malachi, that of pervading apostasy; religion, but mere form without their heart in it. In such times, and we are in them today, יהוה has His chosen remnant, those who separate from that which is going on all around, who fear יהוה and remain faithful to Him. Such are precious to יהוה, His treasure, His inheritance, His own possession. He says “They are Mine! I will spare and preserve that precious treasure. Nothing will harm them!” That is יהוה’s people. We were not His people but now we can be His precious possession! Bless His Name! In First Peter it says that to those that believe Jesus is precious, and I appreciate that; but what is absolutely astounding and mind-blowing is that we are precious to God – His treasure. We belong to Him and are of extreme value in His sight! Praise Jesus for His wonderful redemption, for His choosing and calling. May we respond with a heart that remains true to Him when the tides of apostasy rise. How precious to be יהוה’s special treasure, His own personal, precious possession! [P] [1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.] Bless the LORD!