Archive for January 9th, 2019

Malachi 3God’s Own Possession

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Written on March 28, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We have looked at the Book of Malachi a number of times, first thinking about how difficult it can be to apologize when we know we are wrong; and also about how the newness God offers to us can transform our pride and arrogance to the understanding and compassion which he wishes to share with us.  Today we consider what it really means to be God’s own possession

Malachi’s prophecy is the last we read before we turn to the New Testament . . .  a fitting closing and opening.  We, too, stand at a point in our Lenten journey when we begin to put away our old self . . . to turn to something new, something difficult, something transforming.

I must confess to having a special affection for Chapter 3 in this book which describes how we might allow ourselves to be refined through trial.  Malachi uses images familiar to his audience: the work of the gold or silver smith, and the fuller.  More information about the work of a fuller with references to other verses in both the Old and New Testaments can be found at this link.


Before and after the fulling process

In both occupations, it is necessary for the smith or the fuller to keep a close eye on the progress of his work.  In both cases, a steady hand and a keen eye use an extreme measure to bring about astounding beauty.  The smith employs intense heat and fire, the fuller uses a sometimes caustic alkaline combined with fat (or in some cases urine and chalk) to clean and even bleach cloth.  Both of these artisans produce work that dazzles the eye and glorifies the wearer.

Mark describes the whiteness of Christ’s clothing during the Transfiguration as dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.  (9:3) The Book of Revelation contains frequent references to the wearing of dazzling garments at the time of the Second Coming of Christ; and the people of Laodicea are advised to buy . . . gold refined by fire so that you may be rich and, and white garments to wear . . . and ointment to smear on your eyes that you might see.  During the fulling process, the vat of chemical and fat must be prepared with care, the cloth introduced with caution, the procedure monitored continually.  Once the material has been submitted to this bleaching method, it is stretched beneath the sun to dry and come to its potential whiteness; yet always under the watchful eyes of the fuller.  A silver or gold smith must use extreme heat to refine the ore he uses in order that all impurities rise to the top of the molten silver or gold to be bled from the top.  He dare not take his eye from his work; he must apply the proper heat at the proper time, and then pour the liquid with care into the waiting mold which has already been prepared.

Both of these tasks require that the workman remain at his post, keeping a constant eye on his work lest all be lost.  Both of these tasks require thoughtful planning before and after difficult and complex processes.

Fuller’s Soap

Just so does God, the creator, plan and prepare a place and a mission for us.  Just so does God, the workman, abide with us through the refiner’s heat and the fuller’s lye.  Just so does God place his hope in our dazzling potential and our latent promise.  Just so does God love us with his infinite care and his enduring love.  Just so does God keep devoted watch over his own as they undergo the smith’s fire and the fuller’s lye . . . to become dazzling arraignment and jewels.

And they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my own special possession, on the day I take action.  And I will have compassion on them . . . 

A re-post from January 9, 2012.

Images from: http://www.ehow.com/about_4572172_what-fullers-soap.html and http://www.sbthp.org/fulling.html and http://astoldbyrachel.blogspot.com/2010/11/remove-dross-from-silver-and.html

For more information on the process of fulling cloth and how to make fuller’s soap, click on the images above or go to: http://www.sbthp.org/fulling.html and http://www.ehow.com/about_4572172_what-fullers-soap.html

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