God’s Word for You
Malachi 3:3-4 he will purify the sons of Levi
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 26, 2021
We will keep reading Malachi on weekdays until we finish these last two chapters.
3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and like silver. They will belong to the LORD, bringing him an offering in righteousness. 4 The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as they were in the days of old, in years long ago.
Gold and silver need hot fires, very hot, to melt. The soft metal heats up in a ceramic crucible until impurities float up to the surface, a black mass on the glowing liquid. This impure stuff (dross, Isaiah 1:25) is skimmed away and the pure precious metal remains. This is the image of God that Malachi paints: God seated as a judge, with the refining fire.
The sons of Levi today are those who teach and preach in the New Testament age, from Christ’s first coming until his second coming. But they are also all those who offer spiritual sacrifices to the Lord, which are all those things we do out of love for Jesus. “You are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The offerings of these, we sons of Levi, says our confession, “are the proclamation of the Gospel and its good fruits” (Apology XXIV:34). Paul explains this for us: “the priestly service of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16), which means that the Gentiles are able to become offerings acceptable to God through faith. When animals were slaughtered as Old Testament sacrifices they symbolized the death of Christ and the proclamation of the gospel. The gospel kills the old flesh and begins a new and eternal life in us.
The offerings brought in righteousness (vs. 3b) begin with faith, and include prayer, worship, the proclamation of the gospel, etc. The Old Testament ceremonies pointed ahead to Christ. The New Testament is not a ceremony nor a shadow, but fulfillment: faith and repentance for forgiveness. So the “offerings of Judah” (the people of God) “and Jerusalem” (the city of God, that is, the fellowship of the church) will be pleasing to the Lord. What a glorious blessing it is to have a clean conscience through Christ, to be freely forgiven by God’s own blood shed on the cross. Those ancient sacrifices and slaughterings were a sermon about Christ. Our sermons must be the same, but pointing backward to the reality, the certainty, the history; God’s own truth. This gospel produces good works in us, but not works that count toward our salvation since we are already saved by Christ. Our works are flowers of thanks blossoming in the springtime of our reconciliation. An act done out of thanks is the same as a hymn sung in praise, not to merit anything, but to rejoice the way we will rejoice forever in heaven.
Pastor Timothy Smith