The Severe Side of Messiah's Mission
Malachi 3:2
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appears? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:

Like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap. It is usually shown that the triumphant side of Messiah's mission wholly occupied the mind of the Jews, and that consequently the stern, judgment side needed to be presented vigorously. But some recent accounts of the actual condition of Jewish thought in the first century suggest that the fears of Messiah's time were so extravagant that they needed to be corrected and qualified. The stern things of the Gospels are mild and reasonable when compared with the extravagant fears of the people. "The people looked forward with dread to the coming of the Messianic era. They were afraid of seeing the war of Gog and Magog, which the scribes predicted as its precursor. They looked for fearful calamities. Rabbi Eliezar ben Abena said, 'When ye shall see nations rising up one against the other, then look for Messiah to follow. In the weeks of years in which the Son of David shall come, there will be in the first year abundance of rain upon one city, and drought upon another. In the second year the arrows of famine will go abroad. In the third there will be a great famine, and men, women, and children will die, as well as the saints and the rich; and there will be a judgment of forgetfulness upon those that study the Law. In the fourth there will be abundance for some and barrenness for others. In the fifth a great abundance; and they shall eat, drink, and rejoice, and the Law shall he again held in honour, among those who teach it. In the sixth year voices will be heard. In the seventh wars will break out, and at the end of the seventh the Son of David will appear'" It was as necessary to correct these delusions as those which pictured a triumphant earthly conqueror. The severity must be fully recognized as a moral, not material, severity.

I. MESSIAH WORKS TO REVEAL EVIL. This his very presence does. Put a foul thing beside a pure thing, and the pure thing shows and intensifies the foulness. Let God show, in a man's human life among men, what he requires and what he can accept, and wherever that man goes he is sure to bring evil to light. Christ is doing that work still.

II. MESSIAH WORKS TO PUNISH EVIL. "All judgment is committed unto the Son" But the sphere of the punishment is moral and spiritual. Christ never asked the secular arm to carry out his condemnations.

III. MESSIAH WORKS TO DELIVER FROM EVIL. This is indicated in his work as Refiner. He is getting the metal freed from the dross. Much of our evil is not us, only attached to us, blended with us, a bondage of us.

IV. MESSIAH WORKS TO CLEANSE FROM EVIL. This is indicated in the soap figure. The evil is conceived of as in us, and as having to be got out by the severe processes of the fuller, or washer, by pounding. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: "But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like launderer's soap;

The Day of Christ's Coming
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