Scripture Reading: Malachi 2:17-4:6 / Revelation 7:1-17 / Psalm 144:1-8
While driving in the first significant snowfall of the winter a few days ago, I noticed the brilliance and beauty of the snow. The trees were outlined in white, the sun reflected brightly off the snow and it was brilliantly white. It wouldn’t be long before the snowplows would salt, sand and push the snow. The clean and pure snow would then be spotted with dirt, grime and mud. Our spiritual lives take a similar journey as Christ makes us white as snow but then the world comes by and we find ourselves spotted and polluted by sin. Yet Christ can make us clean again!
Malachi writes, “For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.” (Malachi 3:2,3) The prophet uses the analogy of laundry soap to illustrate how He cleanses our lives. Washing clothes is an ongoing and for many, an everyday task. Plants along the Mediterranean and Dead Sea had detergent like qualities because of their high concentration of alkaline salt. The soap didn’t appear to be potent but when agitated with the clothing fabric, it removed dirt and stains.
God’s forgiveness and delivering power is viewed by the world like an insignificant liquid or powder. Alone it looks ineffective but when it is added to the faith (water) of man, it’s power and results are miraculous. When we allow His grace and presence into our lives, He cleanses us of every sin and lifts the stain of guilt. The power, hold and bondage of sin are broken!
Washing clothes requires agitation. Historically, the agitation process was done by treading, beating or hammering clothes with a mallet whereas today, washing machines agitate our clothes. This process was necessary for the soap to become thoroughly mixed with the clothes. The cleansing power of Christ is seen when we allow Him to penetrate every area of our lives…it is challenging but so worthwhile!
Another analogy God uses is the refining process of gold and silver. Precious metals contain impurities and need to be refined. If the impurities are left mixed in the precious metals, they will ruin the metal. When the metal is heated, the impurities separate from the pure metal and the dross rises to the top where it is carefully removed. The difference in the soap and refining process is that the laundry soap works with strength while the refiner works with sensitivity.
Precious metal impurities are not extracted during one extreme and extended heating time. The impurities come out little by little and require a series of refining. Silver goes through the refinery process 7 times and the dross is carefully removed each time until the refiner can see his reflection in the metal. I am thankful God sees grains of gold below the impurities of our lives. He lovingly and patiently sits over the burning crucible of our lives until He sees His own face reflected in our lives… the process is complete as we are cleansed, purified and refined into His image!