Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the Lord of heavenly forces.
2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the Lord, presenting a righteous offering.
4 The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in ancient days and in former years.
5 I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against the sorcerers, the adulterers, those swearing falsely, against those who cheat the day laborers out of their wages as well as oppress the widow and the orphan, and against those who brush aside the foreigner and do not revere me, says the Lord of heavenly forces.
6 I am the Lord, and I do not change; and you, children of Jacob, have not perished (Malachi 3:1-6, Common English Bible).
When I started researching the refining process for silver during the Biblical era I was surprised to learn, the process used by Syrian potters for (silver dross) glazing pottery is likely the process used by Biblical era refiners all over the Middle East.
The ancients would mine and then smelt lead sulfide ore which is rich in silver. The ore would go through a reduction process that would leave it as a metal rather than an ore. The lead was then separated from the silver by blowing hot air over the surface of the melted metal. The process converted the lead to lead oxide which is what is referred to in the Bible as silver dross. The dross was then used in glazing pottery as stated above.
A flux of some sort was added to the remaining metal to dissolve other metals like copper, lead, tin, and iron. What remained was pure silver.
Crude processes like these are used in many parts of the world to this day.
In the lesson, Malachi is saying God will refine the Levites as the refiner’s process gold and silver. This figurative statement likely means they would go through difficulty. One must apply heat in the purification process. If one wants to sterilize something, heat is a requirement.
Remembering back to my Boy Scout first aid, if all you have for a bandage is a cloth of questionable cleanliness, one can pass it closely over a fire to clean it and make it safer to use as a bandage. Heat cleanses.
For the Levites to be cleansed it would require heat. The heat would be difficult times but in the refining process, air would blow the impurities away and eventually leave pure silver.
We all go through times of difficulty in our lives. When we feel the heat may God be at work refining us to be pure in our work for the Almighty.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved