God can get frustrated. He can say “Enough is Enough!” And that is what He is doing next in Malachi.
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? 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. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty. (3:1-5 NIV)
In the first part of this, God is giving His people a heads up on John the Baptist and Jesus. John’s purpose was to warn people and prepare the way for Jesus. Jesus would be coming to see His people and the temple. But would His appearance be met with rejoicing and rose petals being thrown? The very people who should have been excited and anticipating it were the ones who fought with Him and ultimately killed Him. They could not bear the truth that He brought with Him. They could not stand up to His glory like they had originally thought that they could.
The closer we get to God the more “hot” it becomes. I mean “hot” in that the challenges increase, the intensity of our purification gets stronger. Why? Because we are growing stronger and the strongest of substances can withstand the hardest of circumstances. These “hot” times show us who we really are. In reality most of us have an inflated sense of who we are. We promote or “qualities” to ourselves and to others. But when put to the test do these qualities stand tall after everything else has fallen to the attack? Do you keep your faith when death faces you or a loved one? Do you remain calm when faced with difficulties? Do you treat others with love and kindness? Do you really live those qualities when the tough times hit? That is why we go through many of our trials. He is purifying us. He is showing us where we are strong and where we need Him the most. These trials in our lives are the barometers of our faith.
I’ve been watching a fellow Christian for a few years now and it has sadden me to watch how her faith crumbles at every disappointment. She talks the talk and seems to walk the walk, but when the purification fires approach she throws it all away. Many don’t see that side of her because I think sub-consciously she hides it from most people. But she cannot hide it completely. When she sees her life not going the way she had planned, anger against God rages and she begins to doubt it all. Someone who tries to instruct others in the faith, cannot keep hers during a minor set back. That is one of Jesus’ roles, to be a barometer of our life. Where to stand there against Him? Are you who you think you are? Are you just like the priests of old who thought He was fooled and that you could out-smart Him?
God will judge the ones who dabble in the black arts. These are not as innocent as many would make you think. Anytime you mess with forces that do not come from God you have to messing with the ones that come from Satan (whether you are doing intentionally or not).
He will judge the adulterer. There is no excuse for intimate betrayal. You cannot hide it. You cannot escape it.
He will judge the liar. He will make sure that the truth is revealed. You cannot hide it.
He will judge the boss who cheats his employees. No one is above the law and will be punished.
He will judge the one who does nothing to help the widows and the orphans. You don’t charity and mercy then you will not receive it from Him.
He will judge the ones who refuse to help foreigners in need of aid. Just because that they are not local or are from a different culture does not make them less a child of God than you.
He is the fire that leaves only the pure behind. Will be left behind after the fire or will you be burned up?