So last week I tried to divert you from the fact that I owe you a conclusion to my series on daGifts by telling you that God loves you in spite of your attitude about the results of the last election -- and that goes for the ones who are elated as well as the ones who are deflated.
God loves you in spite of the election results.
But here's the thing -- if we stick to Malachi as a message to God's people about what He thinks about what they are doing and what they ought to be doing, He also says this:
"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 fuller's 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.Now, we all get the "refiner's fire" thing, right? God is sending a "messenger", that is, the Messiah, the Anointed one, to purify Israel. Great -- purify is good.
But I think we have sung our Hillsong choruses so much regarding that phrase that maybe we don't get that God, though He loves Israel, is telling them that in order to receive His promise of a king who will redeem and save them, they need to be burned up like corrupt metal. They need to be purified the hard way.
So let's instead turn to the other phrase God uses there about what's about to happen to them: "He is like fuller's soap."
Now, what exactly is "fuller's soap"? We don't use such a thing today, so the phrase is rather arcane, and to understand what it means we have to go back to one of God's favorite topics: sheep.
When you shear a sheep, you get fleece -- raw wool. And as you can imagine, it smells and feels like a sheep does -- which, overall, is not how you want to look and smell (no offense to sheep). So to use the raw wool for anything, the fuller would handle the wool.
The fuller is the guy who takes the filthy, dirty wool and washes it so that it gets really white and clean. He uses boiling-hot water, and soap which is extremely caustic. So what he does to the wool is not pleasant for him very much, but it is in fact much worse for the wool. Often the wool would be beaten with rocks to really get the nasty smell, dirt, piece of farm debris, and non-wool stuff out of the fleece prior to spinning it into thread -- and then often it was done again to the thread when it was woven into fabric to make the cloth as tight and clean and presentable as possible.
So when God says that the Messiah is coming with "fuller's soap", He's not saying, "Jesus will make you wash your hands." he's saying, "you are disgusting and useless unless you are cleaned up by the Messiah."
So it's been a week since the election, and everyone has had their little catharsis regarding who won and who lost. Now it is time to break out the fuller's soap.
But listen to me: the fuller's soap is not for our nation. God didn't write Malachai to America. God wrote Malachi to Israel, and therefore we should see Him here speaking to the church. God is not bringing the fuller's soap to the U.S. Constitution: He's bringing it to you, and to your church. And the thing is that anything that's not pure wool is going to be scalded and bleached out, beaten out with rocks, and washed away.
What's going to be left if God brings you the fuller's soap?