But who may abide the day of his coming? - Only they who shall believe on his name; for they that will not, shall be blinded, and the unbelieving nations shall be destroyed by the Romans.
Like fuller's soap - כברית keborith, from ברר barar, to cleanse, any thing that deterges. Kali, or fern ashes, or such things. I doubt whether the composition which we call soap, was known in ancient times.
And who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? - The implied answer is, “No one;” as in the Psalm Psalm 130:3, “If Thou, Lord, wilt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Joel had asked the same, “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” “How can the weakness of man endure such might; his blindness, such light; his frailty, such power; his uncleanness, such holiness; the chaff, such a fire? For He is like a refine‘s fire. Who would not fail through stupefaction, fear, horror, shrinking reverence, from such majesty?”
Malachi seems to blend, as Joel, the first and second coming of our Lord. The first coming too was a time of sifting and severance, according as those, to whom He came, did or did not receive Him. The severance was not final, because there was yet space for repentance; but it was real, an earnest of the final judgment. John 9:39, “for judgment,” our Lord says, “I am come into this world, that they which see not may see, and they which see might be made blind;” and again John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world;” and John 3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the Only-Begotten Son of God; John 3:36. He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” As, on the other hand, He saith John 6:54. “whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath eternal life;” and John 6:47, “he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;” “hath,” He saith; not, “shall have;” “hath it,” in present reality and earnest, though he may forfeit it: so the other class is “condemned already,” although the one may repent and be saved, the other may Ezekiel 33:18. “turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity;” and if he persevere in it, “shall die therein.”
It is then one ever-present judgment. Every soul of man is in a state of grace or out of it; in God‘s favor or under His wrath; and the judgment of the Great Day, in which the secrets of men‘s hearts shall be revealed, will be but an outward manifestation of that now hidden judgment. But the words, in their fullest sense, imply a passing of that judgment, in which men do or do not stand, as in those of our Lord Luke 21:35-36. “As a snare shall that day come on all those that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man;” and Paul Ephesians 6:13. “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand;” and in the Revelation Revelation 6:16-17. “They said to the mountains and rocks; Fall on us, and hide us from the wrath of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” Asaph says of a temporal, yet for this life, final destruction; Psalm 76:6-7, “At Thy rebuke, O God of, Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep. Thou art to be feared, and who may stand in Thy sight, when Thou art angry?”
For He is like a refiner‘s fire, and like fuller‘s soup - Two sorts of materials for cleansing are mentioned, the one severe, where the baser materials are inworked with the rich ore; the other mild, where the defilement is easily separable. “He shall come like a refining fire; Psalm 50:3-4, ‹a fire shall burn before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. Then He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, that He may judge HIs people;‘ streams of fire shall sweep before, bearing away all sinners. For the Lord is called a fire, and a Deuteronomy 4:24. consuming fire, so as to burn our 1 Corinthians 3:12. wood, hay, stubble. And not fire only, but fuller‘s soap. To those who sin heavily, He is a refining and consuming fire, but to those who commit light sins, fuller‘s soap, to restore cleanness to it, when washed.”
Yet, though light in comparison, this too had its severity, for clothes which were washed (of which the word is used) were trampled on by the feet. “The nitrum and the fuller‘s soap is penitence.” Yet the whiteness and purity so restored, is, at the last, perfected. Inspiration could find no more adequate comparison for us, for the brightness of our Lord‘s raiment from the glory of the Transfiguration, than Mark 9:3, “exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.”
Our Lord is, in many ways, as a fire. He says of Himself; Luke 12:49, “I am come to send a fire upon earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled?” John Baptist said of Him Luke 3:16, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” He kindles in the heart “a fire of love,” which softens what is hard, the will.
“Wash whate‘er of stain is here,
Sprinkle what is dry or sere,
Heal and bind the wounded sprite;
Bend whate‘er is stubborn still,
Kindle what is cold and chill,
What hath wandered guide aright.”
But as God is “a consuming fire,” Who must burn out the dross, unless we be Jeremiah 6:29-30 “reprobate silver” which “the founder melteth in vain,” either He must, by His grace, consume the sin within us, or must consume us with it, in hell.
In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God's purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple. God designed that the temple at Jerusalem should be a continual witness to the high destiny open to every soul. But the Jews had not understood the significance of the building they regarded with so much pride. They did not yield themselves as holy temples for the Divine Spirit. The courts of the temple at Jerusalem, filled with the tumult of unholy traffic, represented all too truly the temple of the heart, defiled by the presence of sensual passion and unholy thoughts. In cleansing the temple from the world's buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul. “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. 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.” Malachi 3:1-3. DA 161.1
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.” Revelation 3:20. He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; ... and they shall be My people.” “He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” 2 Corinthians 6:16; Micah 7:19. His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21, 22. DA 161.2
Overpowered with terror, the priests and rulers had fled from the temple court, and from the searching glance that read their hearts. In their flight they met others on their way to the temple, and bade them turn back, telling them what they had seen and heard. Christ looked upon the fleeing men with yearning pity for their fear, and their ignorance of what constituted true worship. In this scene He saw symbolized the dispersion of the whole Jewish nation for their wickedness and impenitence. DA 162.1Read in context »
No longer have the hosts of evil power to keep the church captive; for “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city,” which hath “made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication;” and to spiritual Israel is given the message, “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Verse 8; 18:4. As the captive exiles heeded the message, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon” (Jeremiah 51:6), and were restored to the Land of Promise, so those who fear God today are heeding the message to withdraw from spiritual Babylon, and soon they are to stand as trophies of divine grace in the earth made new, the heavenly Canaan. PK 715.1
In Malachi's day the mocking inquiry of the impenitent, “Where is the God of judgment?” met with the solemn response: “The Lord ... shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant.... 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. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” Malachi 2:17; 3:1-4. PK 715.2
When the promised Messiah was about to appear, the message of the forerunner of Christ was: Repent, publicans and sinners; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees; “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2. PK 715.3Read in context »
Through disloyalty, God's chosen people developed a character exactly the opposite of the character He desired them to develop. They placed their own mold and superscription upon the truth. They forgot God, and lost sight of their high privilege as His representatives. The blessings they had received brought no blessing to the world. All their advantages were appropriated for their own glorification. They robbed God of the service He required of them, and they robbed their fellow men of religious guidance and a holy example. Like the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, they followed out every imagination of their evil hearts. Thus they made sacred things appear a farce, saying, “The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these,” while at the same time they were misrepresenting God's character, dishonoring His name, and polluting His sanctuary (The Southern Watchman, January 10, 1905). 4BC 1181.1Read in context »
Both the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” and the first angel's message, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come,” pointed to Christ's ministration in the most holy place, to the investigative judgment, and not to the coming of Christ for the redemption of His people and the destruction of the wicked. The mistake had not been in the reckoning of the prophetic periods, but in the event to take place at the end of the 2300 days. Through this error the believers had suffered disappointment, yet all that was foretold by the prophecy, and all that they had any Scripture warrant to expect, had been accomplished. At the very time when they were lamenting the failure of their hopes, the event had taken place which was foretold by the message, and which must be fulfilled before the Lord could appear to give reward to His servants. GC 424.1
Christ had come, not to the earth, as they expected, but, as foreshadowed in the type, to the most holy place of the temple of God in heaven. He is represented by the prophet Daniel as coming at this time to the Ancient of Days: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came”—not to the earth, but—“to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” Daniel 7:13. GC 424.2
This coming is foretold also by the prophet Malachi: “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.” Malachi 3:1. The coming of the Lord to His temple was sudden, unexpected, to His people. They were not looking for Him there. They expected Him to come to earth, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8. GC 424.3Read in context »