Day 18

Judgment at the Lord’s Coming

from the Zechariah and Malachi reading plan

Malachi 2:17, Malachi 3:1-18, Matthew 11:7-15, Hebrews 12:7-11

BY Melanie Rainer

I love to barbecue. Two or three times a year, I make pulled pork. It takes me three days, give or take: a wet brine, a dry rub, slow smoked on the grill, and then finished in the oven. The first bites of sweet-spicy bark are heavenly, a combination of loving preparation and long-suffering.

When pork shoulder reaches approximately 160 degrees, it enters what is known as “the stall.” The stall can last hours and can be paralyzing for the barbecuer: the temperature gauge does not change. It sits at 160-ish degrees for hours and hours. The stall is a scientifically-studied phenomenon during which the melting fat in the meat leads the moisture in the meat to evaporate, which cools the meat. Basically, the fat is rendering and the meat is slowly, steadily becoming pure, tender deliciousness. The meat is being refined and purified by the heat.

The three disputations in today’s chapter in Malachi are about this very thing: the cost of refining. The Lord promises to send a messenger who will “be like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s bleach” (Malachi 3:2). The messenger will “purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness” (v.3). The messenger is dual: it refers to John the Baptist, who will prepare the way for Jesus, the messenger of the new covenant—the one who will go through the refining fire and be the refining fire for all of us.

In Malachi, we see the calling-out of the people and priests who tried to shortcut their way through the fire, or who claimed what they had already done and been through was enough. But the sacrifices were not about the animals, and the behavior modifications were not about performing just right, and the exile wasn’t a punishment that would wipe their sin away for good.

Proverbs 17:3 says, “A crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and the Lord is the tester of hearts.” Our hearts are just as in need of refining as the hearts of the wayward priests in the book of Malachi. Sanctification, the lifelong process of being made more like Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit, is often painful like fire as it burns away our sin.

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). This training is hard. I can count a thousand ways the Lord is burning away the dross in my life today, and there will still be a lifetime of work to do. Asking for His refining love is the most daring and terrifying thing I can pray, but it is also the safest because of His sweet and abiding love for me.

Post Comments (19)

19 thoughts on "Judgment at the Lord’s Coming"

  1. Rachel Kelley says:

    Today’s passage was convicting, especially the verse from Micah 2. Do we really fear God? Do our actions demonstrate that in our sacrifices? Do we view God as a God of justice? Do we welcome refinement or use it as an excuse to turn from him?

  2. Becky Smith says:

    A friend posted this on fb and I am sharing it here – maybe someone will see it and be blessed.
    There was once a group of women studying the book of Malachi in the Old Testament. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three, which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” This verse puzzled the women, and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

    That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

    The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot – then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

    The man answered “Yes”, and explained that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be damaged.

    The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

    He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy. When I see my image in it.”

    If today you are feeling the heat of this world’s fire, just remember that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are refining you. “You are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.”

    – Unknown

  3. Carmela says:

    I believe and acknowledge that I will never be done with Sanctifying myself. I believe at times we all are like the priests and the rest of the people who believed that our pitiful “sacrifice” will be enough to stop the pain we go through. Our flesh does not want to be tamed, our sins do not want to be removed from our lives out of their own will. But with the strength that God gives I know that we will be sufficiently strong to overcome anything.

  4. Kim C says:

    During the past 2 years, I have been brought through a fire that has drawn me into the arms of Jesus. My husband was in a 4-wheeler accident which I witnessed. This was very traumatic, but I know that I witnesses a miracle. Although he suffered a traumatic injury, I believe that my husband’s life was spared by The Lord. Four months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was so mentally devastated. I accepted Jesus as my Savior 35 years ago and I had not experienced trauma during these years. All I could do these past 2 years was to throw myself into the arms of Jesus and trust Him to walk with me through my husband’s recovery, my diagnosis and 3 surgeries. Jesus has been faithful to not only walk with me through the fire, He has taught me to trust in Him while in the fire. The fire has brought me closer to Him. I’m new to She Reads Truth, I’m loving the daily devotions. Thank you for beautiful daily devotions.

    1. Dona Bell says:

      Kim, reading the story of your trials brought tears to my eyes. B

  5. Cayley Causey says:

    I love the ways God purifies us. As a newlywed, it is easy for me to see that marriage is a sanctifying process. What a sweet God, who would use something as beautiful and wonderful as marriage to be a refiner’s fire. Yes, it is difficult, but there is so, so much blessing from it.

  6. Shawn Parks says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight. I love “tender”.

  7. Mari V says:

    These last two years plus have been of time of going through that fire, being refined, and back in the fire and being refined. And I’m in agreement with Melanie this morning, “but it’s also the safest place to be.”
    I know one thing one important thing God‘s love for me will never change.

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