"A Refiner’s Fire"
God did not say he was like a forest fire that destroys, but a refiner’s fire. A refiner’s fire purifies bad and leaves the good intact.
A Refiner’s Fire
A. There are few men in the Bible like John the Immerser. A man who came from the wilderness, who dressed and sounded much like Elijah of old. A man who wore weird clothes, ate weird food and for some weird reason we are told he wore a belt. (by the way, a great picture of Elijah of old). But it was not so much his looks that were to take you back to Elijah, but his message. He came preaching a message of repentance, a call for the people of Israel to return to the God because the kingdom of God was near.
B. His message was not one of flattery, but a bold calling for change – personal change and national change. He would speak to the people with the authority of the Spirit of God, but claimed to only be a messenger of the one who was to come in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring the Holy Spirit upon the saved.
C. When John was in prison, probably soon to die, he sent some men to Jesus to ask if “he was the one?” After sending them back to John with a message, Jesus turns to the people and says these words (READ Matt. 11:7-10). Verse 10 is a quote of Malachi 3:1. Jesus gives us one level of interpretation on our text today.
D. I want you to understand layered prophesy. The name Malachi is the word Messenger, and on one hand, Malachi very much is the messenger of God to the people, but he alone, is not the fulfillment of the our text. I believe that is where Jesus speaks of John the Immerser. But our text is a rhetorical response to a statement and a question, and that is where we begin this study.
I. When God Gets Tired
A. Listen to Mal. 2:17. Does God ever get tired of hearing you pray from your heart? Does God ever just leave you alone in your pain when you reach out to Him in faith? The answer is NO. So what is happening here?
B. God gets wearied by vain worship and false teaching. God has no time for people who take His word and misrepresent it to others in His name. God doesn’t look kindly on false messengers who say that God is just fine with evil actions or that God’s justice is not fair among men. Those statements are something that God will not tolerate.
C. God’s response was not to bring down fire from above and consume them. God response was not light the fire of Hell with priests and the Levites who spoke these words or the people who believed them. God response was two-fold.
II. The Lord (Adoni)
A. READ Mal. 3:1. I want to draw your attention to two parts of this sentence. The first is the messenger, whom Jesus identified as John the Immerser. In many ways Malachi, John and we who are Christians take the message to the people about the Messiah (Christ) who as and is Jesus. We bring people before God who brings about change. The messenger was and is only a small part of this passage.
B. It is the second part of verse 1 through verse 6 speaks of the real power that is at hand and answers their question about the justice of God.
C. Vs 1b talks about the “Lord” and this time we don’t get the name YHWH, instead we get “adoni.” A word translated “lord” and can be applied to people or Jehovah. The text helps us to see that this “adoni” is divine because the YWHY of Hosts says concerning this “adoni” that he “comes into his temple.” Since there is only one God and YWHY would not have any other temple but His, this “adoni messenger of the covenant” could not be an angle, but must be a reference to Jesus, the divine, Immanuel, the “God in the flesh.” This messenger of the covenant brings judgment and justice that was questioned in 2:17, but brings it with a temperance and not a destruction.
D. Listen to the fullness of the passage (READ all of Mal. 2:17-3:6). In this fullness we find the Lord described in two: a refiner or a launderer.
III. The Refiner
A. In verse 1 the Lord comes as the messenger of the covenant, and in verse 6 is the promise that God does not change and also the promise that he will not consume them. What happens is God refines us. Jesus cleanses us from all impurity (sin) and make us clean (holy) so that we can live in a covenant relationship even though we still sin.
B. The truth is God will bring about the destruction of some – verse 5 made that clear. But, the heart that seeks the LORD, the heart that follows Jesus (the messenger of the covenant) will be purified and cleansed.
C. Early in our worship we sang Holy, Holy, Holy in praise to God and followed that up with a song of prayer. I want just remind you of what we sang, “Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways; re-clothe us in our rightful mind. In purer lives Thy service find, in deeper reverence praise.” Just before I began to speak we sang, “Have Thine O way Lord, have Thine O way.” My point is each of these songs had us lay our heart before the Almighty and not only accept the refiner’s fire, but thank Him for bringing us through the fire to a purer life, a holy life.
D. The truth is I can’t get rid of my own sin. But I am a sinner saved by grace. I am set free from the bondage of sin because of the covenant I have accepted with God through the blood of Jesus Christ when I was immersed into Him. Yes, God tests me and yes I face trails, but God is with me and I will not be consumed. My God takes my heart and accepts it through the sacrifice of Jesus.
A. Peter describes baptism in a beautiful way. Listen to 1 Pet. 3:21-23. Just as the flood cleansed the earth, but in the ark Noah was saved, the water of baptism cleanses me in the ark of Jesus. It is not a washing simply of dirt from the body, but baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience. I am saved not by my action, but by His. The refiner cleanses me from all impurity clothes me with a new white robe of a sanctified life.