Our Refining through Fire: Malachi 3:3
Malachi 3:3 "And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness".
From years the people of Israel had been looking forward to the day of the LORD, because they believed
THEN a King – the Messiah, would sit on the throne of David,
There would be endless prosperity,
The wicked heathen would be punished,
The Temple would be rebuilt and the God would fill it with HIS GLORY,
The Lame would walk-the blind see-the deaf hear & mute sing for joy,
All kings from all nations would be attracted to Jerusalem to worship the God Of Israel & Israel would lie in the centre of the world.
BUT the people of the Malachi’s day were tired of waiting for the Messiah, they thought that God had forgotten them, they had reasons to do so:-
-They had been suffering under foreign domination,
-They were living under abject poverty, whereas the neighboring heathen, were prosperous and free
-Yes, the Temple was built but there was no sign of God’s Glory within it,
Under such desperate circumstances they began to question
-doubt His promises,
-suspect His justice, and
They even wondered if the Messiah would ever come.
Malachi as a mouthpiece of the Lord tells the people that God has not forgotten them, for the Day of Lord and the Messiah are about to come,
Lord God Himself answers to the His people, Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me...
“I am coming says the Lord”, BUT, first you must be ready.
It was a custom of the then Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Preparing the way for the King was a hard work, and it is still today.
As we are eagerly waiting for the coming of Our Lord again, Prophet Malachi calls us to a deeper kind of preparation – a serious spiritual preparation.
1John 3:3 “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
This morning I want to share a little bit about the refiner’s fire, Purity comes from the refiners fire, Preparing for the Lord’s coming is a matter of purification.
I read recently about a sister, who was attending a Bible Study on Malachi Chapter 3, this verse "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) puzzled the sister and she wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
That week this sister called up a silver smith and made an appointment to watch him at work. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The sister thought about God holding us in such a hot spot--then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The sister was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that’s easy--when I see my image in it."
Therefore the passion for purity and holiness is not to be considered as a plaything, it is a process of refinement which goes through the furnace of affliction.
We all are going through this process-or we soon will,
We can divide the process in two parts,
1ST GOD’S PART and
2ND OUR PART
First: GOD’s Part in our refinement
God wants us to become like Lord Jesus Christ, we read in
2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord”
Romans 8:29 " For whom he did foreknew, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren"
Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”
It is important for us to realize FIRST OF ALL, that God wants us to become like His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, BUT it involves going through the fire to become pure. Though it may be painful and unpleasant we have this promise
Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
The purifying process will result in glory and praise for us. It is not worthy to be compared with the glory He will give us later. Therefore first we have to understand that it is God’s purpose to refine/purify us.
He chastens those whom He loves, and prunes the branches that are already bearing fruit.
What a comfort it is to see that He surrenders this work to no one, He may give charge to His angels concerning us when we are in danger BUT when it comes to our refinement He Himself does it.
God’s part was our Lord Jesus Christ “…now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in hi sight” (Col 1:21, 22) and again in we read in Titus 2:14 “Who gave himself f0r us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
From the above verses we understand that Lord Jesus not only died to save us but also died to purify us. God HAS DONE His part through the Cross (Hebrews 10:10; Titus 2:14) and IS DOING His part through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 26) and His Word (2Timothy 3:15-16) in purifying us and making us Christ like.
Second: OUR PART in the refinement process,
It is Lord’s will that we become pure BUT it will never happen unless and until we also do our part,
We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”
And in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
We crave to be forgiven by Our Lord for our faults and our falls; so we confess that we might be forgiven and that He might cleanse us from all unrighteousness (cf:1 John 1:9)
We like to be forgiven but we don’t like to be cleansed- to go through the fire,
We hop out of the fire,
We refuse to melt,
We refuse to be purified,
We try to resist the refiner’s fire because we feel something strange is happening to us, we are confused and cannot believe God can do such a thing to us,
The Prophet Isaiah said," When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned"(Isaiah 43:2); he didn't say if. And apostle Peter said 1 Peter 4:12-13 we read “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trail which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
None of us know when we'll be called to walk through the fire or how hot the furnace will be.But we do know this: God's purpose for the flames, is to purify us refine us, and not to destroy us.
As we wait for the coming of our Lord let us do OUR PART,
1John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
1Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Let’s once again read Malachi 3:3 along with Proverbs 25:4
Malachi 3:3 “And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Proverbs 25:4 “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.”
MARK the great and glorious end of this fiery process - a righteous offering to the Lord, and a vessel formed, prepared, and beautiful for the refiner, a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. WHAT A BLESSED RESULT!
Let us pray that our eyes are opened to our faults and our failings and our sins. When the Holy spirit reveals them to us – let us confess them and allow the cleansing process in our lives. Let us pray that God gives us the eyes to see His hand in every affliction and Let our testimony be like the testimony of the Psalmist, “ Before... [It is] good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.... I know, O LORD, that thy judgments [are] right, and [that] thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”(Psalm 119:67, 71, 75).