5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
The truth of these words; the reality of what they reveal about you is both our hope and our dread.
There is great hope in the coming of the Lord! There is great anticipation of this refiner’s fire! Oh how desperately we long to be refined, to be cleansed, to be purged of our sinful rebellion and pride and be left without impurities before you! Ever do we live with the ache and grief caused from our separation from you, the disrupted fellowship and relationship that sin causes. How we crave and desire for a depth of unity with you and with each other that is not marred by sin’s stain. Yes, Abba, there is great anticipation and desire in our souls to be refined and purged of this sin so that we may be left whole and clean!
And yet, there is dread in our anticipation of this refiner’s fire as well. We know that being refined is a process. It involves fire. Personally, I always thought the worst way to die would be to burn alive. Such pain and agony that fire inflicts upon the sensitive flesh you created us with, Abba. But refining involves fire. It involves pain and discomfort. It is not a process of ease or comfort. And so we dread the process of being refined even while craving it deeply.
Your promise to Israel here in Malachi reveals your commitment to purity and cleansing. A promise that is made clear for your church in 1 John 1:9. You will cleanse. You will purify. For it is what your holiness and righteousness demand. It is the only path to fellowship and intimacy with you. And so we embrace it. We invite it. We seek it.
Yes, Abba, your refining fire is both our hope and our dread. More hope, though, than dread. The dreaded pain is but for a moment. The completed and pure product is for eternity. The dread of the moment, the dread of the process cannot overshadow the hope of eternity.
And so we humbly submit, Abba, to the refiners fire. Purge us. Cleanse us. Refine us. Make us pure. Let us keep eternity in view as we feel the fire and scream at the pain inflicted through the process. Keep the final image, the final glory firmly fixed in our view. May we embrace the fire that we might be found pure in your sight.
We love you Abba,