Scripture Reading: Malachi 3:1-4
In the third chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, John the Baptist juxtaposes his ministry with that of the Lord Jesus Christ in the following words; "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."(Matt 3:10-11) This indeed is an accurate description of the ministry of Jesus as presented to us by the Prophet Malachi in our scripture reading for today. Here, the eyes of our understanding is being enlightened to the fact that the assignment of Jesus when He walked upon the face of this earth, as well as in his present day ministry, is also purgative in nature. Malachi prophesies that; "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: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." You and I are in a sense the ‘Sons of Levi’ for we have been called to be "an Holy Nation" and "a Royal Priesthood." In our walk with the Lord Jesus and the blessed Holy Ghost, we will be purified along the way for the express purpose of enhancing the quality of our service to the Lord.
Throughout our devotionals for the past couple of weeks, ‘Rivers’, ‘Water’ and ‘Rain’ have been emphasized as emblems of the Holy Spirit. Today we want to remind ourselves of the fact that ‘fire’ is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures, the only person who seems to have given us a visual description of the Holy Spirit is the Prophet Ezekiel. He recounts that; "Six years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylonia, the leaders of Judah were meeting with me in my house. On the fifth day of the sixth month,the Lord God suddenly took control of me, and I saw something in the shape of a human. This figure was like fire from the waist down, and it was bright as polished metal from the waist up. It reached out what seemed to be a hand and grabbed my hair. Then in my vision the Lord’s Spirit lifted me into the sky and carried me to Jerusalem" (Ezekiel 8:1-3CEV). To reiterate, Ezekiel is telling us that the Spirit was like fire from the waist down and bright as polished metal from the waist up. If the only time we get an actual visual of the Holy Spirit in the Bible, His appearance is that of fire, then that tells us volumes right there. We also need to keep in mind the fact that the Spirit descended upon Elisha in the bodily form of ‘Chariots and Horses of fire’ at the time his master Elijah was taken away from him by a whirlwind. Last but not the least, on the morning of the day of Pentecost there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the room where they were assembled and tongues as of fire sat upon each and every one of the 120 disciples therein gathered.
What is the purpose of fire, and what does all this compounded information tell us? We need not look too far for the answer. Today’s scripture reading is illuminating us about the fact that, just as silver and gold, are purified and made better by fire, so are we. Proverbs 25:4 says that; "Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer." The purpose of the fire is to purify our vessels and enhance the quality of our lives and ministries. Like John the Baptist said, He will gather the ‘wheat’ of our lives into His granary but He will burn the unwanted ‘chaff’ or ‘dross’ not just with fire but ‘unquenchable fire’. This He does, by taking us through the school of life. More so often than not, the vicissitudes of life may serve as our ‘tutors and governors’ and refineries for us. God is not just interested in your service but rather the quality of service that you offer. As sons therefore, we get to be chastised where necessary. According to the book of Hebrews, it is only bastards who do not get chastised. (Hebrews 12:5-12) I love the scripture also in Hebrews 1:7, which says that, He makes his angels, spirits and his ministers a ‘flame of fire’. In conclusion beloved, the more refined we are, the more refreshing we will be to our world.
Memory verse:"Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer." – Proverbs 25:4
Pastor Charles Amaning
Resident Pastor, Christ’s Oasis Ministries