Mal. 3:1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
The prophecy spoke of a time when the Lord, the anticipated Messiah, would come to his temple. God’s intent is that his people be holy as he is holy. Sinfulness has sullied the garments of the priests and those to whom they would minister. The fuller’s soap would be used to make white clothing their very whitest — and the refiner’s fire would burn out all impurities. The new era to be ushered in by the messenger and the Messiah would be a call to holiness and purity for all of God’s people.
The hope of the Messiah was a restoration of God’s people in his image. I’m not sure that we can comprehend the beautiful intent of God that we find here, for the hope of Advent is wrapped up in a Savior who would step into our messy and dirty world so that we could be made clean.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women about Christmas. I felt led to speak to them about the women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The women in the list are not what we would consider “normal.” They aren’t what we we expect in the heritage of our Lord. Each one of them has a rather sorted story…a couple of prostitutes, a victim of rape, a foreigner, and a teenager pregnant out of wedlock. And yet, these are the only women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. How do these women end up redeemed within the story of the Messiah and even become remembered as those who are faithful? The answer is the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap.
What Jesus offers to this world is forgiveness, but it doesn’t end there. The whole promise is for cleansing and restoration. Because of the work of Christ the prostitute’s actions become holy in the story of God. The pregnant teenager gives birth to the son of God. The message over and over again is that God has the power to cleanse and restore his people. That which has been tarnished and nearly destroyed can be made absolutely new. This is the promise of holiness and the gift that the Messiah brings to all people.
We anticipate the good news. The message is one of wholeness and completeness. In the Messiah we can become all cleaned up!
Lord, I praise you and thank you for this incredible promise. Amen.
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