The Refiner’s Fire
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.
- Malachi 3:1 – 3
In preparation for this Advent season I read Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge. To say that Rutledge’s book was impactful is a massive understatement. It has shifted something in my soul. It has taught me a new approach to this season of lights and carols and presents around a tree. Her approach is one of delayed gratification because that is what most mirrors our daily lives as we wait for Jesus’ second coming.
Today I want to introduce you to the author who is reshaping my approach to Advent. So here is Fleming Rutledge’s advent reflection on Malachi 3:1 – 3.
If you’re alert, you saw that in Malachi 3:1 – 3 the ‘BUT’ plays an important role. To those who think the coming of the Messiah will be a picnic, the prophet says absolutely not, because we are not worthy to stand before him when he appears. But we will undergo the refiner’s fire, and we will emerge as new people, remade in his image and fit for his eternal company. We will enter into the wedding feast with him to rejoice forever.
Only a very great and mighty judge is able to do what is promised us in Jesus Christ. He has promised us that he will do away with Sin and Death forever. The face of the frightening all-powerful judge of humanity is turned against everything that reduces us, that imprisons us, that distorts us, that annihilates us. It is our redeemed self that Jesus loves and promises to make whole in us, but not without judgment upon all that is crippling and destructive.
I wonder if you, like me, have grown weary of patterns in your own life. As I have grown older, I have recognized that there are certain impulses and tendencies in my personality that I have worked very hard to overcome, but they are still there, causing me – and others – no end of trouble. I am looking forward to passing through the refiner’s fire. I am so joyful to know that those traits will be judged and gone forever. I hope that’s true for you too. We rejoice to know that it is the Lord himself who will come to be our Judge.
A Moment to Reflect
Today, think about passing through the refiner’s fire. Think about the reality that for those who know Jesus, his final act of judgement will be a final act of liberation. What impulses and hurtful tendencies do you struggle to overcome? How do you feel when you consider that those things will be judged and gone forever on the day that Jesus returns?
 Advent by Fleming Rutledge