Malachi 3:2 – But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. (NIV)
With seven in our family, Saturday was a big washing day for my mother. There were a couple of things that I liked to do to help her. She washed all the clothes in the big kitchen sink, and it was my responsibility to lift the wet clothes and put them through the cast-iron wringer. It always fascinated me to watch shirts and pants, jerseys and socks come out pressed flat and almost dry on the other side. It took a great deal of strength to turn the wringer, and at the end of the washing, I was completely worn out.
The other thing that needed to be done was to wash the collars on my dad's work shirts. They had to be scrubbed clean, and so we used launderer's soap to get rid of the oil stains and sweat marks that accumulated as he worked as an engineer. This also took a great deal of effort, but when all of his shirts were scrubbed, washed, and hung out to dry, we all felt good.
These days, most of us just shove our clothes in the washing machine and forget about them until it's time to transfer them to the dryer. This made me wonder about the relevance of Malachi's prophecy, for who knows in these days what launderer's soap looks like?
What Malachi is saying is that when the Lord returns, He will come to purify the earth and its entire people. We live in a world where the environment is contaminated, wars are scarring the earth, and greed is wasting this planet. Left to ourselves, we're making a mess of the one part of creation that God gave us to look after. One day, before we ruin everything, He will return and paradise will be restored, for a new earth will be recreated, a new Eden will be replanted.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, come and walk amongst us once again. Heal the earth of all its unholiness and restore this world to Your way. Purify all that is imperfect; make sacred all that is wasted; reclaim all that has been recklessly abandoned or wretchedly destroyed. Come with a refiner's fire and a launderer's soap to make all things holy once more and eternally. In Your almighty name, we pray. Amen.