One of my favorite memories in college was early morning sessions in the practice rooms. Four of us pianists would arrive before anybody else, spread out across the building to practice but also worship through music. While we played in vocal studios, accompanied for choirs, taught lessons, and collaborated with others during the rest of the day and into the evenings, the morning time was when we could sit down at the piano to work on our own music. Having a chance to sit down and play our own pieces required our whole person to bring the music to life. Our eyes were engaged with the written score. Our ears listened not only for correct notes but tone and phrasing.Our feet worked the pedals. Our arms and hands pushed the keys. Our minds analyzed and interpreted the composer’s intent. And our hearts enjoyed the sound that came forth. To bring the music to life, to come off the page, required careful and detailed attention.
Pianists and artists alike have a passion for their work that drives them to sit down and to be attentive to their art. They don’t just haphazardly throw something together but are intentional as they create. What struck me about today’s passage is that our God is an artist who sits down to make something beautiful (Malachi 3:3).
- What is something that you like to create? How do you go about doing so?
- How is God like an artist in our passage this week?
- Malachi 3:3 says that our God “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the songs of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.” What does that tell you about the character of God?
- What does Malachi 3:3 tell us about God’s view of Israel that He would sit down to intentionally and carefully work at refining them?
For a craftsman like a silversmith, the process of refining precious metal involved fire. He would take a piece of silver and hold it into the center of the flame, where it was the hottest, keeping a watchful eye on it until the silver separated from the other metals. Then, he would pour the silver out of the crucible, scrap off the dross, cool it down, and heat it up again. After repeating this process over and over, the silversmith with his fire and attentiveness would produce pure enough silver to where he could see his face in it.
- How does the refining process of silver at the hand of a silversmith reflect God’s refining of His people? What are the similarities and differences?
- What trials is God allowing in your life right now to challenge and refine you?
- What are you clinging to to get through these trials?
- What impurities is God asking you to let go of?
The refinement process is never fun. In fact it can be downright painful, but we have a creator God with us in the fire, who is sitting with us through it to remove the dross and make us pure and holy. Just like a pianist who takes the elements on the page and works with attention to bring forth music, so our artistic God refines those who love Him, making them His handiwork. May we rejoice today in our God, who is with us in the fire, making us beautiful in Him.
Heavenly Father, We praise You for Your patience with us. We confess that we like to do our own thing and end up sinning against You like the people of Israel. Thank You for Your forgiveness and redemption as You take us in our brokenness and refine us to reflect You for Your glory. May we remember during times of trials that You are with us and the pain is purposed to help refine us. Help us to hold fast to You when the fire comes. May we always return to You. Amen.
— Jamie Harms