‘“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “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. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. ‘ Malachi 3:1-4
I came across a story regarding a women’s bible study and their coming to this passage. They were struck by it, but none of them were personally familiar with the refining process. One of the women volunteered to go meet with a silversmith and learn about the process.
She found a silversmith, willing to share the steps of his craft, and without filling him in on the “why” she was curious, went and observed. The smithy explained to her that it was imperative for the smithy or refiner to hold the silver in the center, or hottest part of the fire, in order to achieve the greatest results. She asked if he had to be present throughout, or if he could leave it there and come back to it. He explained, “not only does the refiner have to remain ever present, but must hold onto the silver in the midst of the fire and never, ever take his eyes from it.” The extreme heat of the fire was necessary to burn out the impurities from the silver ore, but if the silver wasn’t carefully held and closely watched, it could be ruined by the process, as well. She then asked him, how do you know when the process is complete and the silver is pure? “Easy,” he said. “I can see myself in it.”
After reading this woman’s account, I went and read that passage in Malachi. I, as I am sure most of you are as well, am familiar will the biblical alliteration of the refining fire, that our growth and development is often brought about by what can be a difficult and painful process. I, like most of you I assume, have always focused on the effects of the process. I’ve never looked at what the “refiner’s” responsibility and role looks like. In Malachi 3:3 it says , “He will sit as a smelter and purifier”. After reading the silversmith’s beautifully vivid account of the role of the refiner, it gave me a whole new perspective. Jesus is right there, “He sits”. He’s holding us, His gaze never wavering from us and He keeps us in the flame until the precise moment He can see Himself in us, then He knows His work is complete and we can come out a new creation. What a beautiful and incredibly reassuring depiction right from scripture, highlighted for us by this woman’s practical illustration.
This is also a cautionary warning, that though we can have faith and confidence in the process, as Jesus will be sitting as the smithy, it will be difficult to bear. This chapter in Malachi is a call to return to God, repent and restore a right relationship with the Lord. It’s a call to commit and pursue, for judgement comes on this day, as well. Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy