The spirit of burning - Means the fire of God's wrath, by which he will prove and purify his people; gathering them into his furnace, in order to separate the dross from the silver, the bad from the good. The severity of God's judgments, the fiery trial of his servants, Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 22:18-22;) has set forth at large, after his manner, with great boldness of imagery and force of expression. God threatens to gather them into the midst of Jerusalem, as into the furnace; to blow the fire upon them, and to melt them. Malachi, Malachi 3:2, Malachi 3:3, treats the same subject, and represents the same event, under the like images: -
"But who may abide the day of his coming?
And who shall stand when he appeareth?
For he is like the fire of the refiner,
And like the soap of the fullers.
And he shall sit refining and purifying the silver;
And he shall purify the sons of Levi;
And cleanse them like gold, and like silver;
That they may be Jehovah's ministers,
Presenting unto him an offering in righteousness."
This is an allusion to a chemist purifying metals. He first judges of the state of the ore or adulterated metal. Secondly, he kindles the proper degree of fire, and applies the requisite test; and thus separates the precious from the vile.
When the Lord - That is, “after” God has done this, then all that are written among the living shall be called holy. The prophet in this verse states the benefits of “affliction” in purifying the people of God. He had said, in the previous verse, that all who should be left in Zion should be called holy. He here states that “previous” to that, the defilement of the people would be removed by judgment.
The filth - This word here refers to their “moral” defilement - their pride, vanity, haughtiness; and perhaps to the idolatry and general sins of the people. As the prophet, however, in Isaiah 3:16-23, had particularly specified the sins of the female part of the Jewish people, the expression here probably refers especially to them, and to the judgments which were to come upon them; Isaiah 3:24. It is not departing from the spirit of this passage to remark, that the church is purified, and true religion is often promoted, by God‘s humbling the pride and vanity of females. A love of excessive ornament; a fondness for dress and display; and an exhibition of great gaiety, often stand grievously in the way of pure religion.
The daughters of Zion - see Isaiah 3:16.
And shall have purged - This is synonymous with the expression “to wash.” It means to purify, to remove, as one removes blood from the hands by washing.
Blood of Jerusalem - Crime, blood-guiltiness - particularly the crime of “oppression, cruelty,” and “robbery,” which the prophet Isaiah 1:15 had charged on them.
By the spirit of judgment - This refers, doubtless, to the “calamities,” or “punishment,” that would come upon the nation; principally, to the Babylonian captivity. After God should have humbled and reformed the nation by a series of judgments, then they who were purified by them should be called holy. The word “spirit” here cannot be shown to be the Holy Spirit; and especially as the Holy Spirit is not represented in the Scriptures as the agent in executing judgment. It perhaps would be best denoted by the word “influence,” or “power.” The word properly denotes “wind, air, motion” Genesis 8:1; Job 1:19; then “breathing, exhalation, or breath” Job 7:7; Psalm 33:6; hence, it means the “soul;” and it means also God‘s “influence,” or his putting forth his power and life-giving energy in animating and sustaining the universe; and also, as here, his putting forth any influence in accomplishing his works and designs.
And by the spirit of burning - “Fire” is often, in the Scriptures, the emblem of punishment, and also of purifying; compare the note at Matthew 3:11-12; see Malachi 3:2-3. The Chaldee translates this, ‹by the word of judgment, and by the word of consuming.‘ The reference is to the “punishments” which would be sent to purify the people “before” the coming of the Messiah.
“And now also,” said the prophet, “the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction. John declared to the Jews that their standing before God was to be decided by their character and life. Profession was worthless. If their life and character were not in harmony with God's law, they were not His people. DA 107.1
Under his heart-searching words, his hearers were convicted. They came to him with the inquiry, “What shall we do then?” He answered, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” And he warned the publicans against injustice, and the soldiers against violence. DA 107.2
All who became the subjects of Christ's kingdom, he said, would give evidence of faith and repentance. Kindness, honesty, and fidelity would be seen in their lives. They would minister to the needy, and bring their offerings to God. They would shield the defenseless, and give an example of virtue and compassion. So the followers of Christ will give evidence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. In the daily life, justice, mercy, and the love of God will be seen. Otherwise they are like the chaff that is given to the fire. DA 107.3Read in context »
Demoralizing Practices in Marriage—In this age of our world the marriage vows are often disregarded. God never designed that marriage should cover the multitude of sins that are practiced. Sensuality and base practices in a marriage relation are educating the mind and moral taste for demoralizing practices outside the marriage relation. TSB 87.1
God is purifying a people to have clean hands and pure hearts to stand before Him in the judgment. The standard must be elevated, the imagination purified; the infatuation clustering around debasing practices must be given up, and the soul uplifted to pure thoughts, holy practices. All who will stand the test and trial just before us, will be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped, not participated in, the corruptions that are in the world through lust. TSB 87.2
Source of Spiritual Power—The works of Satan are not half discerned, because purity and holiness do not mark the life and character of those who claim to be ministers of Christ. Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, we are thus fortified against the temptations of Satan. Christ and His purity and His matchless charms should be the soul's contemplation. There is spiritual power for all, which they may have if they will, that they may resist temptation, that duty may be done and the soul hold fast its integrity. Those who feel their need of being strengthened by might by God's Spirit in the inner man, will not lose their integrity. Earnest prayer and watching thereunto will carry them through temptations. We must be united to Christ by living faith. TSB 87.3Read in context »