Can you remember a time you had to scrub something that had a dirty spot on it?
Malachi was the last prophet sent by God to his people before Jesus. Can you find Malachi in your Bible? Hint: it’s the last book of the Old Testament. And the next page will begin the New Testament. But in real life there was 400 years between Malachi and Jesus. 400 years of no prophets. 400 years of God not talking to his people. 400 years of them waiting for God to send the hero who would save them, the Messiah.
God’s messiah would come to help Israel. God’s messiah would be a wise prophet like Moses and a powerful and kind king like David. God’s messiah would make Israel great again. But you can imagine that as the years went by (100 years…no messiah yet…200 years…no messiah yet…300 years…not messiah yet…) that the people would give up hope.
But Malachi’s prophecy was one of hope beyond their wildest imagination. Listen to what Malachi said to God’s people:
Malachi 3:1. “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. 2 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.
OK, this is a bit tricky so let’s break it down:
God said, “I send my messenger” – the messenger is NOT the messiah. The messenger is the one who lets the people know that the messiah is on the way.
And then God said, “he will prepare the way before me.” – ME! Not “my messiah.” ME. God is letting his people, and you and me, know that God will be God’s messiah. God’s hero IS God himself. God will send God. God will be the wise prophet. God will be the powerful and kind king. God will save his people from God’s judgment. God will save us from God. God will become a person like us!
And that’s exactly what happened when Jesus came. Jesus is God’s human hero. And Jesus is God. Jesus is our judge and Jesus will save us from judgment. Jesus can punish us for our sin, and Jesus was punished in our place, for OUR sin.
Jesus is God, who was sent by God, to save us from the judgment of God.
But how does Jesus save us? Malachi tells us the answer – he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
A refiner’s fire makes metals pure. When gold goes into the fire all of the impurities are burned out and all that is left is pure gold. And fuller’s soap makes wool clean. A fuller used a special soap to scrub out sheep’s wool until it was clean and spotless. You see, Jesus doesn’t just forgive us for our sins, he removes all our sin from out of our hearts. He burns it away like a hot fire with gold, and he scrubs it away like soap on wool. How does Jesus do this? By loving us over and over and over again even when we don’t deserve it. And over time the more we see Jesus love us, the more we will be like Jesus and love others too.
Because of Jesus we are both forgiven and made clean of our sin by his love.
With Jesus I can learn to love others too like he does.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
You can watch this video on how gold is made. At around the 3-minute mark you can see how fire is used to purify the gold. Talk about how Jesus makes us pure too. He does it by showing us the bad things in our hearts and by loving us anyway, thus teaching us what unconditional love looks like.
You came to forgive us and to make us clean by your love. Teach me to love others like you do.
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