The Refiner’s Fire!
Scripture reading for October 5th: Malachi 1-4
Malachi was the final voice of a prophet in the era of the Old Covenant. After him, God was silent for 400 years until John the Baptist came on the scene. Malachi was like a street preacher of his day. He would go out where the people were and ask questions of them. He loved to pose questions and then answer them. With this style he sought to provoke God’s people to repent and do what God had commanded and required.
There were several issues that Malachi hit hard in his preaching. One issue concerned the priests who were sacrificing blind, crippled and diseased animals. God was and is holy and He demands pure sacrifices; His priests were dishonoring Him. (Malachi 1:6-14) God is a great king who is worthy of our best!
Another issue was priests who were breaking their covenant vows with their wives and also with God, Himself. They were sacrificing to God on the Sabbath, but then going up to idol temples, sacrificing to idol gods and having sex with the temple prostitutes. God was watching and angry! He warned them through Malachi that this practice would defile them and sow violence and divorce into their homes. (Malachi 2: 11-16) This also dishonored God and broke their vows to Him as well! This behavior hinders the development of godly offspring, God’s plan for covenant marriage.
God warned them as well of another evil practice. The law of God strictly forbids stealing but these people were stealing from God. They were not giving God their tithes, bringing them under a curse. The devourer was eating their crops and taking away their sustenance. (Malachi 3:8-12) The remedy was simple–return to God by bringing Him His tithe! God tells them that they can test Him in this, the only place in Scripture where testing God is allowed or encouraged! God promises to open the windows of heaven for those who honor Him with the tithe! He will also rebuke the devourer and bless their provisions.
God was going to send His messenger of the covenant to His temple. He would be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap, purifying the Levites. This process would bring about righteous obedience in the offerings and personal behavior. Who could stand when this “messenger” comes? God was going to be quick to testify against those involved in sins of adultery, perjury, sorcery, and oppression of orphans and widows! (Malachi 3:1-8) The people better prepare for this messenger and the refining fire! This fire would reduce those who opposed the Lord to ashes but the righteous would go free! (Malachi 4:1-3)
Malachi had a message that still rings true today for us. Jesus is coming! He is coming with fire this next time. Those who believe in Him will have their works tested by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Those who oppose Him will be defeated by fire and eternally judged by fire! We need to heed the time and return to the Lord before time runs out!