The Refiner’s Fire (Malachi 3:1-2)

By | Oct 14, 2016

The days of the prophet Malachi are similar in many respects to our day. This is the very last message from the last messenger of the Old Testament. The name Malachi means “my messenger.” When his voice died a silence of four hundred years set in. The era of God “speaking in times past unto the fathers by the prophets” had come to an end and as the unnamed writer of Hebrews said, “in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)

What a dark, voiceless void it must have been throughout four centuries having nothing but silence from God. What an awful dark night it must be when no one hears from God. All of this came about because the people had blasphemed and insulted God. The ministers offered polluted bread upon the altar. When the bread was too old for them to eat they offered it to the Lord. They “offered the blind, lame and the sick for sacrifice on God’s altars.” What they were unable to sell they gave to the Lord. They demanded to be paid for every service of the temple. They wouldn’t close a door or kindle a fire upon the altar without pay. The last dispensation in the Old Testament closes with the shocking word “curse.”

The closing of the former dispensations are typical of the dispensation we are now living as it too is coming to an end. From the age of innocence when Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden until this present day every dispensation has ended with judgment. This present dispensation will end in apostasy and darkness. Just as the prophets of old tried and failed to awaken the people of their idolatry and unbelief so it is with this present day.

Malachi prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and the judgment that will be poured out upon all who dishonor God by their idle worship. One stated, ‘when service is labored and sacrifice is limited that is when love is lacking.’ It is a warning that the curse of God will be the result of all who live with a covetous heart. It was true of Lucifer in the beginning and so it shall ever be.

Malachi was talking about the coming of this present dispensation. He is announced as the messenger of the Covenant concerning the coming Holy Ghost dispensation. He asks, “Who may abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap: He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

He speaks of the fore-runner of Christ (John the Baptist) who would prepare the way of the Lord. In John’s introduction of Jesus (the Messiah) he reminded them that he was the voice but Jesus was the authority behind the voice. He showed the way but Jesus was the way. He also told them, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me….shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.” (John 3:11)

Notice the symbols Malachi uses to illustrate the requirement for one to “abide the day of His coming.” They are fuller soap and the refiner’s fire. Paul tells us in Titus 3:5 that fuller soap is a strong soap that refers to the “washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” It removes the guilt and pollution of committed sins. James reminds the sinner to cleanse their hands. Following the washing of fuller soap there is nothing left in the soul but the depravity that man is born with. It results in man being double-minded and James continues his admonition by saying, purify your hearts ye double-minded. (James 4:8) In other words following the washing that cleanses the outer-man comes the fire of the Holy Ghost that purifies the inner-man. As John the Baptist explained in differentiating his baptism with the baptism of Christ we see that water is for washing but fire is for destroying. That is not only a verbal distinction but it is a vital difference. The washing is the result of the work of regeneration and the fire is the result of entire sanctification.

As a boy I remember working in a maple sugar camp. We would tap the maple trees for sugar water and than collect the water in barrels and bring the barrels of water into the camp to boil the water down into syrup. We would have to boil down an average of 40-45 gallons of water to make one gallon of maple syrup. When it comes to refining gold in the United States, it would take anywhere from fifty to ninety thousand tons of rock to smelt it down to one ounce of gold, depending upon the ground according to Barrick Gold.

When Jesus baptizes with the Holy Ghost and fire, He will decrease the bulk but greatly increase the value of our lives. The Refiner will cleanse all impurities (or dross) from the heart and when He is able to see His image in the refined silver He will withdraw the crucible. In answer to the question posed by Malachi, “who shall stand when He appeareth?” (Malachi 3:2) It will be those who have submitted to both the birth and the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Friends, the judgment is coming; there is coming a test that will destroy everything that is combustible. We must be built of something that will not burn; not wood, hay or stubble, but gold, silver and precious stone. That alone will enable us to abide in the day of His coming.

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