“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 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. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.”
What kind of offerings are you hoping to bring to the Lord during this Advent season?
This scene sketched out for us by the prophet Malachi (whose very name means messenger) is a profound meditation on the gifts that God loves. Our text is quoted by each of the Gospel writers and is traditionally interpreted to prophesy the coming of John the Baptist, son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth. Here the LORD presents himself as the agent that will refine the people of God until the gifts they present are full of righteousness and justice. And even in the gospel of Luke the angel had to silence Zechariah to refine his faith!
But if you read on to verse 5 we are reminded that God never refines us from a distance, but always draws near to us in love and with the patient joy of an artist of precious materials who wipes away the dross until we are beautiful in the Lord. So as you contemplate the life that you live before God don’t be afraid to ask for his purifying presence. He will draw beauty from your gifts given in humility and service.
And as we look toward the Day of the Lord on this side of the resurrection, I am singing along with one of my new favorite Advent songs, written by our friend Wendell Kimbrough: “Everything that is broken will soon be restored, it’s not long till the day of the Lord.”
Bruce Benedict is the chaplain of worship and arts.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.