Friday Forum: Malachi 3:1-4 “He is Like a Refiner’s Fire and Like Fuller’s Soap”

Discuss Malachi 3:1–4

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1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, sayth the Lord of Hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiners fire, and like fullers’ soap:   3 And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.  4  Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

The process of refining silver is a delicate one. With great expertise and skill the silversmith must sit with his eye steadily fixed on the silver purifying in a furnace;  if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be ruined. Likewise, if the silver is removed from the fire too soon it will be damaged.  Christ sees it needful to allow us to be put into a furnace.  He does not cause our sufferings, but instead allows us to grow shiny and smooth by being put thru the refiners fire of mortal experiences.

His goal is for others to see Him reflected in our countenances,  by our words and deeds. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying. His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials are not random; for “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”  Like Christ, the silversmith knows when the process of purifying is complete. The silver is purified when the silversmith sees His own image reflected in the silver.

Similar to silver, Fuller’s soap symbolizes the purifying ability of the Lord. The New Testament’s account of the transfiguration refers to Christ’s white garments as “whiter than any fuller could get them”. In ancient times, wool was purified by the fuller and bleached to the whitest shade possible. The white wool was dampened and then beaten into shape for the garment maker.

God is the master craftsman and we are His greatest creation. He has created us and placed us in diverse circumstances. Despite our high or low place on the earth, all will pass thru a refining fire sometime in our lives. We should remember to learn from our experiences; because  thru our trials and sufferings, our rough edges are smoothed out and purified until we more closely resemble our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Each individual’s experience with the refiner’s fire is unique, but there are broad commonalities experienced by many. Please feel free to share your wisdom in regards to your personal refiner’s fire.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

10 thoughts on “Friday Forum: Malachi 3:1-4 “He is Like a Refiner’s Fire and Like Fuller’s Soap”

  1. Ok. I will start. My personal refiners fire is in regards to spiritual abuse among church members (i.e. jerks with power). Unrighteous dominion has shook me worse than death or truth about ugly events in church history.

    How I have dealt with my refiners fire is to mentally steady myself; by envisioning me gluing the soles of my feet to the rock of the gospel and to stand with courage and face the wind (buffetings of Satan). I base my testimony on a few key things such as the Atonement, Book of Mormon is from God, and The Prophet is a prophet when he speaks as a prophet. Like someone has said before, “All else is commentary”.

  2. Joanna, my personal refiner’s fire has been learning to control my own passions and temper and to be less focused on myself. Still a work in process.

    Regarding jerks with power, I imagine two things when I encounter things like that:

    1)After something is said or done, I visually imagine water running off a duck’s back, and say to myself, “that comment can’t bother me — it’s just water on a duck’s back.”
    2)I remind myself that the Church is perfect but the people are not.

    Works for me.

  3. True that Geoff. The furnace gets really hot when unrighteous dominion is directed at your child or your spouse. It is at those times the Christ and the Atonement are the only comforter.

  4. My mission was the first part of my refiner’s fire. What an experience that was!! It brought me to the brink of apostasy and then I slowly started coming back.

    Raising children and being a husband would definitely be the next stop on my refiner’s fire whistle-stop tour. ;-)

    I like what Geoff said about controlling passions, temper and selfishness. I know that I need to work on those areas as well.

    @MadChemist

    I was 31 when I married my wife; definitely old by LDS standards. I am keenly aware of being older and single. Hence, I try to be aware of how I treat the subject of marriage with my single friends.

  5. Mine continues to be experiences that submit me to God’s will…not my will. Those times seem to be countless and neverending, pointing to the undeniable fact that I am a slow learner and the Lord is definitely long-suffering.

    Regarding spiritual abuse, I agree with all the above and also try to remember that one definition of “sustain” is “to endure”.

    Joanna, thanks for the reminder of the refining process…and for being an incredible example of one who is willing to not only “talk the talk” but “walk the walk”.

  6. GRADUATE SCHOOL!

    Actually, worse than school itself is living with my own choices made in school. I’m getting into research unusually late, and it’s going to make getting TA funding next year really difficult as one of the oldest graduate students.

  7. Brian- Missions can be such a pivotal point in a young man or woman’s life for good or bad depending on the experience. Mike and I held our breath Tex would have a good mission experience and thankfully he did. One down and two more to go, four if the girls serve. I don’t think 31 is so old. It is good to be mature and know what you want.

    Control of our natural man is certainly a test of endurance.

    KBAllen- thanks for stopping by with such a lovely comment. “Sustain is to endure” I will remember that one.

    Ben- I hope for you someday all that higher level education comes to a magnificent conclusion. We have all felt for you as you have worked hard to attain your goals.

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