Friday, February 01, 2013

Cleansed and refined

Refiner's fire - Malachi 3:2
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Malachi 3:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "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 launderers' soap." Malachi 3:2

I wonder how the "day of His coming" will find us, will find me? Living, as we do, in a time when God is portrayed and viewed as more like us than different, will we too be shocked, speechless, struck down with awe and fear when He appears?

The images of God here are of soap and fire. Pictures of God cleansing and refining run through the Bible.

Cleansing / Washing:

  • Naaman had to dip his leprous body in the Jordan River the prescribed number of times to be cleansed (2 Kings 5:10).
  • God invites us to come to Him for cleansing from our sin (Isaiah 1:18) and idols (Ezekiel 36:25).
  • New Testament writers remind us over and over that Jesus' blood cleanses us from our sin and sinful human condition (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; Titus 3:5).

Purifying / Refining:
  • Job testified to God's purifying motive through his calamity and illness (Job 23:10).
  • Testing is a sign of God's love and parenthood (Proverbs 3:12).
  • Purifying may come through the difficult circumstances of life. Isaiah called these the "furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10) and Peter the "fiery trial" (1 Peter 4:12).
  • Testing serves to drive us to God and bond us in loyalty to Him as His people (Zechariah 13:9).
  • Its end result is praise, honour and glory "at the revelation of Jesus" (1 Peter 1:7).

Isn't that last reference interesting! For instead of being fearful at His coming, if we have been cleansed and purified during our life on earth, His coming can be a time of anticipation, praise, honour, and glory.

Let's not be taken off guard at the trials that come our way, for they serve to ready us for His coming. I appreciate the light in which Leslyn Musch casts these verses in my Bible's commentary:

"In great mercy Jesus comes to us as the refiner and purifier of His people. It is a precious expression of His grace that He does not leave us in our sin, but promises to cleanse us. Today when you sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit, respond with repentance. Allow the Lord to purify you" - Leslyn Musch, Truth-In-Action Through Malachi, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1274.

Dear God, please help me to feel and know Your love through painful times of cleansing, purifying and refining

MORE: "...hemmed in with troubles"?

"There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"  - Romans 5:3-5 (The Message)

Handel's Messiah Alert: Readers familiar with Handel's Messiah will probably recognize words from Malachi in that music. Handel used Malachi 3:1-3 in three of his choruses:

Bible Drive-Thru

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