Agonizomai: Malachi 3:2-3 - God Will Purify His People

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Malachi 3:2-3 - God Will Purify His People

Malachi 3:2-3 - God Will Purify His People

Malachi 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

Some commentators have taken the suddenness of His coming in verse 1 and the terror of His coming in verse 2 to be an allusion to His coming in judgment in the last days. Dispensational eschatology not being a love of mine, nor a subject of intense study, I cannot speak with authority - but I doubt that the true implication is about final judgment. The context speaks to the incarnation, the coming of Messiah and the one who will go before Him.

Was there, when the Lord walked upon the earth any one at any time who ever confuted what He said, or who proved His words to be untrue? Was there any one to whom He personally ministered and preached whose soul was not searched and probed by His wisdom and the pure light of His gaze into the innermost heart? And even today does He not pierce to the very core all those with whom He has to do?

The figure used is that of a smelter or a whitener of cloth. The refiner of silver heated the furnace and skimmed the dross until the ore was purified. This is the work of the Lord. He sanctifies His people. The washer with fuller’s soap cleanses garments until they are both clean and white - shining in the sun. The Lord Jesus Christ is He who gives a clothing of pure righteousness that renders His people acceptable in the eyes of God - and He also refines their hearts to make them experientially sanctified, creating in them a new heart that delights in God through the Spirit.

The King of Heaven is manifest in Christ. The King before whom no one can stand, as John the Apostle demonstrated in Revelation chapter 1. Though He for a time took on the likeness of sinful flesh (yet without sin) He is now glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world began. That glory that was previewed by Peter, James and John on the mount of transfiguration.

Now He has come as promised - God manifested in human flesh. Brightness of glory veiled briefly for a specific purpose. But in that purpose was bound up all the intentions of Almighty God from before the foundation of the world until the end of time - and on into eternity. The existence of every man and every microbe - the movement of every atom, the number of the hairs on the heads of every single person that ever lived; the courses of the stars and the galaxies, the number of the beats of every heart, all the events of history, the salvation of His people and eternal wrath upon the damned. Christ is the focus, the gate, the purpose, the reason, the means and the judge through which all things are and by which alone all that are or will be in eternity shall pass either unto God or into hell.

No doubt none will stand in the Day when He returns in glory to judge the world. But only those that think they stand (or thought they stood) at His first appearance failed to be prostrate before Him. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and it had been granted to some to fear and adore Him as God even during the incarnation. All natural men think that they stand. Many professors of religion think that they stand; but so long as they think that they stand then they are fallen, even when not prostrate. O, the wisdom of God that a man who humbles Himself is raised up and the one who exalts himself will be abased!

Christ knew how to bring righteous offerings to the LORD. Do we know how to bring the One Righteous Offering to the Lord - the acceptable spotless Lamb of God who has done all things well and has pleased the Father? Or do we still persist in trying to bring something of ourselves? Do we claim to be justified freely by His grace and yet harbor some self-justifying tendencies by which we seek to make God our debtor?


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