Wednesday, 15 September 2021

The Refiner's Fire

 Scripture:  Malachi 3 v 1 - 3: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

2  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
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.

Zechariah 13 v 9: "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and in this passage we read a prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.  It would take 400 years of total silence from God to His people to have them desperate to hear His voice.

It's a sad fact of history that people have to be in dire straits before they turn to God as a last resort.  In the case above, Israel had to be under the power of the brutal forces of Rome, with a hypocritical priesthood who would rather appease Rome than God, and violent protests from zealots calling on God for mercy.

And in steps John, who was baptised in the Holy Spirit whilst still in the womb of his mother, by the One who would be Saviour of the world, who was still in Mary's womb, in the first meeting of the pregnant cousins.  John was the son of Zachariah the high priest, and his long barren wife, Elisabeth.  They were elderly people past the age of childbearing so this child was a miracle.

And John would fulfil his role as preparer of the way by stating in John 1 v 23 - 29:  "He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
24  And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.
25  And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
26  John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27  He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
28  These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

And further on the apostle John records the words of John the Baptist as saying of Jesus that He will baptize people with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  This is the refiner's fire that will purify those who are born again, as the raw ore is refined in fire to bring forth gold and silver.

We all need to be changed by the Godhead that dwells within each born again soul.  We need the dross of the world purged from us by the fire of the Holy Ghost.  We are a new creation, strangers and aliens to the world, being changed into the likeness of Jesus.  Even through this pandemic the refining process is accelerating, and a deeper work is being done in many hearts.

We can cling to traditions, beliefs, religiosity, or the law of Moses, but the refiner's fire will continue to burn within us until we yield.  Some submit easier than others and find the path they were designated to walk, and some have to go through some hard times to become desperate for an answer from God.

Our wily enemy knows exactly what God likes and dislikes, and he plays us to do everything that God dislikes.  God sends people to give us direction and we find fault with them and tear them down, belittling them because they may look too much like John the Baptist, or anything but the sort of people one would listen to.

However, they will have prayed and ignited the refiner's fire within and slowly, sometimes painfully, the changes will happen.  A while ago a group of us were praying for backsliders to slide back to Jesus.  Soon afterwards one of the specifically mentioned backsliders had a heavy fall on a patch of ice and landed on his back with a bump on his head!  He must have been the first of them to literally slide back to Jesus, with a bump on the head to knock some sense into him.  Time will tell.

We are all going through the refiner's fire one way or another and the end product will be pure and precious gold to our great King.  We have tremendous value to Him as His redeemed body and when that Body is moving correctly we will see the world wide revival before He returns.  The world will have tribulation until they cry out to You, if they ever do, but we will have the joy of fulfilled promises and everlasting life.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, O the joy that floods my soul when the day comes when we are with You in Heaven forever.  We have prepared the way for Jesus to return and we have not resisted Your refiner's fire to change us into His likeness.  We are ready and waiting to be caught up to meet Him in the sky.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.