Refining Fire

By
Lee Y. Martin, Ph.D., © 2006

 

 

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, saith 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 refiner's 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.
KJV

 

Forward

 

In this vision, we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ coming to His Temple in flaming fire to judge it. His Temple? Where? There was no Temple in the vision. Ah! But there was a map of the United States of America!

The first messenger of verse one of Malachi chapter three above refers to John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the messenger of the covenant, Jesus. What was the Baptist’s assignment? It was to get the people’s hearts cleansed through repentance so their hearts would be soft enough to hear what the messenger of the covenant had to say. God sent His son, Jesus, as His messenger to fulfill His covenant obligation to Abraham. Two thousand years before Jesus came, God asked Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice for sin. He did but the sacrifice was never consummated. Isaac was not qualified to be a sin substitute for he himself was a sinner. So, why did God ask this of Abraham? God was in the process of reconciling the world back to Himself [2 Corinthians 5:18], and it has to do with covenant protocol.

All sin is a blatant disregard of the Sovereignty of God as Creator of everything. God warned that sin would incur death. Hence, every blood sacrifice was an attempt to conciliate and atone for violating the holiness and integrity of God. Since Abraham was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice to placate God, God had to offer His Son in response as a sacrifice for sin. That’s covenant behavior. If one party to a covenant gives, then the other has to give something equal in value to what the first party gave – or better! 1 Abraham’s offering his son Isaac was truly magnanimous, but think how much more noble and valuable was the offering in Isaac’s stead of God’s Son, the sinless eligible Jesus [Hebrews 4:15], the eternal glorious One who created not only the sacrifice but the altar upon which the sacrifice was made!

Now that we have identified the messenger of the covenant, we can press on to obtain the message of this vision, which is encrypted in Malachi’s prophecy above. Malachi said that the messenger of the covenant would suddenly come to His Temple. Did He come suddenly when He came the first time to die for the sins of the world? How could it have been sudden when He came in the fullness of time according to Paul [Galatians 4:4]? I submit that He came unexpectedly, not quickly, and the priests and teachers of the law were not ready for Him because they did not know Him.

We know that Jesus came once, and we also know that He said He was coming back. So, which coming is Malachi referring to? One of the strange things about prophecy is that there is often a near view and a far one to which the prophecy applies. The near one then becomes a type of what is to come in the distant future. Malachi’s prophecy in verse one above has such a dual application, and the encrypted message in this vision is a picture of its future fulfillment at Jesus’ second coming.

At Jesus’ first coming there was only one Temple. Today, however, there are many temples, for Paul asked the question of the Corinthians: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [1 Corinthians 3:16]. Again, Paul asks the Corinthians in a second letter…what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God…[6:16]. Therefore, the temple of God today are believers, and since born again believers today are all priests of God [Revelation 1:6; 5:10], we are the priests of our own temples. Do not let that fact get away from you because it is important to this interpretation.

I will show that the above prophecy by Malachi has a dual application, and in this encrypted message, there is a profound warning that all ministries and peoples purporting to serve the Lord Jesus Christ should take heed and not be found as the priests were in His first advent to earth. My challenge to every believer priest reading this message including myself is that we cast ourselves into a fining kettle and make ready for the Kingdom of God because the picture we see here of Jesus is not a charming, gracious, compassionate one like we had in the last vision entitled Eyes Of The Word, but it is a portrait of an awesome, frightening, consecrated and inexorable harbinger of truth.

Sleeping Church
 

Jesus appeared to Jeannette as a stern inflexible unyielding Spirit, standing erect and unapproachable amidst flames of fire with credentials in hand – the budded rod and the Ten Commandments. With one fell stroke in the heartland of America He signified that the day of the Lord is upon us and judgment time has come. He is coming to judge, not cajole, but to press a claim, make demands, and call for an accounting. The singular sharp blow of the rod on Oklahoma and the visible lightning-like shock waves spreading outward across the States from its hub of ‘truth dispenser’ strongholds demonstrate the seriousness of this message. It was the hammer blow of a Judge in His courtroom chambers to get the attention of the people.

Ephesians 5:14-17
14 … Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Is it the Lord’s will that His people take care of their own needs and increase themselves with much goods when people are lost, undone, without hope and without Christ in the world [Ephesians 2:12]? Is it His will that we satisfy the flesh with amusements, pleasures, and self-seeking when family members and Christian brethren are oppressed and bound up in bands of wickedness because of wrong thinking [Isaiah 58:6]? Are we so blind that we cannot see that Jesus is calling forth a fast from frolicking and warning His people to double their efforts in seeking to fulfill their foreordained destinies? Is He not portraying in this vision that He is the messenger of the covenant Who has come to judge [Malachi 3:1]?

This vision implies that Jesus shall suddenly come to His temple as Malachi predicts [3:1]. to believer priests of this the last generation, in like manner that He came to His Temple in His first advent to earth…suddenly…unexpectedly! Jeannette told me that the vision just popped open, suddenly and unexpectedly as she was gazing into the sky having just asked God a simple question…’Are not fires for refining?’ She said it was over almost as fast as it came. It is instructive that there was no building up to a scenario episode, no fade in and no fade out, just a stark appearance of Jesus in His Godly attire – flames of fire from His loins up and His loins down! This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said

Revelation 16:15
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

When He came the first time, the priests, scribes, and teachers of the law were not expecting Him and hence did not recognize Him. True to type, this same scenario is going to characterize His second advent. At the rapture, there will be many Christians naked and exposed to shame for they will be left behind. Instead of guarding their righteous garments and watching the Scriptures to see that they were following true teachers of righteousness, they will have blindly followed the arm of flesh. We must take care in what we hear because faith comes by hearing, but so does doubt and unbelief.

Paul picked up on this prophecy in Malachi 3:1 and taught the church from it, and perhaps private dialogue with Jesus in the Arabian desert [Galatians 1:17], that He would come back suddenly as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; Luke 12:39]. A thief does not come quickly, he comes unexpectedly, and that is the meaning here. His coming will catch many believer priests by surprise and they will not be ready for the rapture. Note the parable of the ten virgins Jesus taught his disciples [Matthew 25: 1ff].

Jewish priest
Why all the fuss about His coming suddenly? When Jesus came the first time, He found little or no faith in Israel that God would keep His promises to them. Because the priests were not teaching the people from the scrolls of Scripture but rather from the Talmud, which is a mixture of spiritual truth and oral tradition, the people were confused and mixed-up about spiritual matters. Not only the people, but also the spiritual leaders and priests were blinded and disoriented, unable to interpret the signs of the times. Therefore, very few were able to recognize that Jesus had come to His Temple as Malachi prophesied He would. He came at the set time Daniel prophesied in chapter nine verses twenty-four through twenty-seven.
Jesus castigated the scribes and priests during His first advent by saying they were shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven against men. They were not entering in themselves and were blocking the doorway so that others could not enter [Matthew 23:13]. How were they blocking it? With their confused admixture of Scripture with man-made traditions. Had they been diligently studying the Scriptures instead of fabricated Kabalistic theories, they would have known that the messenger of the covenant had come to His Temple. However, true to the prophecy, the Messiah had come suddenly and the people were not expecting Him. Given a dual fulfillment in prophecy predictions, does this not speak volumes to priests today?

The Christian counseling movement and the various and sundry church programs built upon human ingenuity testify to the interweaving of human wisdom with divine wisdom. Can human wisdom ever add anything good to the wisdom of God? For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord [Isaiah 55:9]. Paul says that the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men [1 Corinthians 1:25]. So how can God be pleased when we try to improve on what He has said in His Word? He created man. Moreover, He wrote the manual explaining how to correct the problems afflicting him.

Thus, adding to God’s Words distorts His wisdom and causes men and women to become even more deceived about themselves. It takes a person’s eyes off God’s strange method of delivering us from evil circumstances through faith – trusting Him and no other. Although it might seem noble that others want to help hurting people by giving them solutions and answers to their needs, in reality it is pulling the counselees away from trusting in the Word alone and encouraging them to rely on the arm of flesh. This compromises faith development, steals from our spiritual heritage of super grace power, and reduces our fruits of righteousness. In effect, it denies that God’s …power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…[1 Peter 1:3]. In short, attempting to improve ourselves through psychological counseling robs God of His due glory by siphoning off total dependence upon Him as our only source for everything. It stunts spiritual growth.

Christian leaders have embraced manufactured psychological counseling theories and techniques mistakenly thinking that they are science. Because they deal with the soul and spirit, and not in facts that can be replicated, they qualify for a religion. If psychology is a religion, how can it contribute anything to God’s ways and thoughts, which are higher than peoples [Isaiah 55:9]? In actuality, the practice of Christian counseling as a profession muddies the truth as it is revealed in Scripture, and God’s Word is demoted as insufficient to solve problems of living. Focusing on men’s ideas and various psychological theories to analyze self instead of hearkening to how God orders our steps perverts worship and cannot please God. God created the psyche and the wisdom of men cannot comprehend it. Only the Creator’s Word …pierces to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart [Hebrews 4:12].

In like manner that men have tread upon God’s turf in dealing with the problems of the psyche, they are also looking to themselves to devise their own systems of governance and morality. The Ten Commandments are no longer accepted in the United States as necessary for a civilized society. Men are saying that we have come of age and are in a ‘new age’ where the wisdom of man is capable of guiding moral decisions. But God says, …I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent [1 Corinthians 1:19].

The teachers in Jesus’ day should have known Malachi’s prophecy that the messenger of the covenant would come suddenly, unexpectedly. Jesus even wept over Jerusalem because they did not know the day of His visitation [Luke 19:41-44]. This proves that the priests of His day were not doing their job in studying the Old Testament nor in keeping the people correctly informed. No wonder they were scattered as sheep without a shepherd [Mark 6:34].

Knowing the Malachian prophecy, Jesus queried whether He would find faith when He comes the second time to earth to judge it. He came the first time as a suffering Savior. But knowing He’s returning as a Judge, He had some doubt whether there would be any faith to avenge in His role as avenger of blood of the covenant He was soon to cut with men on the cross. As messenger of the covenant God had made with Abraham, He also had to act as the covenant’s avenger of blood. 2 Therefore, the question was sort of ad hoc on the heels of a parable He had just spoken to His followers about an unjust judge who was predisposed to avenge a nagging woman of her adversary. Why was the judge so inclined since he was a corrupt one? It was because he wanted to be free of her continual nagging – not because it was the right thing to do. It was solely a self-serving act because he didn’t fear God nor did he regard man [18:2-8].

Jesus was musing with Himself when He asked if He would find faith when He returns, for He knew His disciples did not have a clue as to the meaning of the question, much less the answer, because they were unlearned in the Scriptures. Nor do most believers today understand what He was asking either. He was pondering if He would find any strong persistent faith like the nagging woman when He appears the second time. She knew her rights. She was a covenant daughter and deserved to be avenged of the one who had trespassed against her. Therefore, she kept on pestering the judge demanding her rights. Avenge me of mine adversary she kept on saying over and over. We know she said it repeatedly because the word ‘avenge’ is in the imperfect tense, which means a continual, repeated action in past time.

Since Jesus used the imperfect tense, He was emphasizing the necessity of believers being persistent and unceasing in their faith so that the avenger of blood of the covenant would have a claim on their adversary. If they give up and do not endure because they do not see the avenger of blood, they may lose rewards and perhaps even their souls [Matthew 24:13]. The point is that you have to stay the course and persevere in your faith in order to turn God’s promises into facts. Quitting is not an option. If an unjust judge will act the role of an avenger, will not our righteous Lord Jesus Who is the avenger of our covenant with Him?

The messenger of the covenant came not the first time as an avenger of blood because there was nothing to avenge. The final new and better covenant with God had not yet been ratified. Jesus cut the covenant on the cross, and now He is the legal guarantor that our adversary the devil will pay the ultimate price of eternal torment in a lake of fire prepared for him and his angels [Matthew 25:41]. It’s a fearful thing to mess around with the things of God.

The judgment pictured in the vision did not allude to the great white throne judgment that occurs at the end of the Millennium when sinners will be judged. Rather it relates to the Bema Seat judgment when believers are judged for rewards [1 Corinthians 3:8]. As Judge He will decide whether our claims are justifiable or not. Faith without works is dead [James 2:17]. But works without faith is dead also [Galatians 3:11].

Jesus emphasized when He was here that we would be rewarded with miraculous cures and deliverances based on our faith. He repeatedly said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.” [Matthew 9:29]. Considering that earthly rewards are faith dependent, we can surmise that heavenly rewards will be too. Hence, the strength of our faith is a measure of how much we trust God’s Word, how much we honor it by believing every Word written. If we believe but do not do the Word, we deceive ourselves [James 1:22], and we will be quite incapable to change our circumstances due to puny faith. Therefore, Jesus will judge according to the strength of our faith, which is the reason He queried to Himself whether or not He would find any persistent, nagging faith to judge and avenge.

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1
See Continuation 2 Climax of the Ages for a discussion about covenants and their particulars. (Abraham’s)
2
For an explanation about the Avenger of Blood role to a covenant, see the Interpretation: Prayer And Slaves, Section: Biblical Principles For Separation. Also see Continuation 2 Climax of the Ages in which covenants of strong friendship are discussed. (Therefore)

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013 1:37 PM