Do you collect quotes? I am pretty certain that even if you don’t claim to collect them, somewhere in your home you have some type of plaque, picture or embroidered pillow with a witty or inspirational saying; something that means encourages or lifts your mood.My mom collects quotes and has been known to forward emails with great words of wisdom. One of my favorites that she has shared with me is, “If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” So naturally, I take after her and over time have established a collection that speak to my heart.
One such quote speaks accurately of the place I am in my journey of life and is the words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Isn’t it true that when we know the author of the quote, we’re always careful to give credit to them? But what if a great quote comes from an author and we’re not quite sure what his or her name is. That happens with the quote,
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” – Malachi 3:3
Some may say, “but it must be written by Malachi as that is the name of the book in the Bible from whence it came”, but no one is certain who Malachi was.It is speculated that Malachi was the last of twelve prophets. Malachi roughly translates in Hebrew to “My Messenger”, therefore it’s thought that the name Malachi was intended to be the title of the book rather than the name of the author. Nevertheless, it is last book found in the Old Testament.
So this great quote of Malachi, whoever that may be, book or author, what exactly does it mean?
1 “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.
2 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. 3 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, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
Still doesn’t make much sense even after reading it in context, does it? But if we consider the purpose of the book of Malachi, we can gain a bit more insight.Purposes:
- To remind the people that Yahweh [Hebrew name of God] will do all that he can to help his people
- To remind the people that Yahweh will hold them accountable for their evil when He comes to judge
- To remind the people that Yahweh will honor them for their faithfulness when He comes to judge
- To urge the people to repent of their evil for covenant blessings to be fulfilled
Okay, that helps a little, but if you’re anything like me, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with being a refiner or purifier of silver. And I’m sure you’re probably wondering how this all relates back to the first quote that I shared.
First let me share with you a story that I heard some time ago about a group of women who were also puzzled by the words of Malachi 3.
They wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh that’s easy – when I can see My reflection in it.”
My faith journey has had its fair share of ups and downs. And times it has felt very much like a roller coaster, careening out of control down a rickety wooden track.There are times that I rebelliously turned my back on God. There are times that I ran, arms wide open towards Him and begging for His presence at every turn. I’ve witnessed trials that have made me question my reason for being and I have witnessed Him move in a way that defied all other odds.
Though receiving the news that my position of four and a half years was being eliminated is not the most difficult trial that I’ve encountered, it has provided some hard knock lessons of how God works in and through us. And how sometimes He has to break us in order to make us whole again.
In the aftermath of receiving this news, I came up against a blockade that was completely unexpected and frightening. When I was always able to run towards God in the past and easily pour out my heart and seek comfort in His presence, I found myself without words. It wasn’t that I was in a state of shock or denial, but I simply could not speak the words my heart was begging to cry out.
A friend of mine provided a simple response when I told her about this blockade. A pinned image from Pinterest, blew me away at its accuracy. “Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him.”
So instead of butting up against him each time I wanted to reach out to God, I shared the fears and anxieties of my heart with others, seeking their prayers since I could not utter my own. And let me tell you, I whole-heartedly believe in the power of intercessory prayer!
It was also through a Christmas in June sermon delivered by one of the pastors at my church that my heart was broken, and cracked wide open. But it wasn’t in order for it to ooze out the bitterness and insecurities that were overwhelming me, but to allow in the truth that it’s not what I do or don’t do on this earth that matters, but its what Jesus has done in my place and my willingness to accept His grace and mercy every day.
I was held to the fire, and at times I was concerned that I would burn up. But, as He promises, He will never leave me or forsake me in these times. He would never leave me to be destroyed by the heat of trial. He endured the wrath and judgement that I deserve so that I can live the life that He designed.
So after all it doesn’t really matter the author of Malachi 3, because it’s one that can still speak to our hearts today. If you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you. He will keep watch over you until He sees His image in you.