“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:3-4)
This verse vividly describes the purification process which the Levitical priesthood will undergo at the hands of the coming Judge. Though the principles could be applied in the present age in a general sense, the literal and full fulfillment looks ahead to the millennial kingdom. Ezekiel chapters 40-48 provide a look into the future concerning the temple of the millennial kingdom and the future ministry of the Levites. The second coming of the Lord Jesus will witness the spiritual purification of the tribe of Levi. Though this tribe has been dispersed and seemingly “lost” for many years, the Lord will gather them once again and separate the believers from the unbelievers. Though the redemptive work of Christ has been complete, and no further offering is required, the reinstated offerings and temple worship of the Millennium will serve as a memorial to the finished work of the Messiah, as He Himself sits as Prophet, Priest, and King, thus bringing into perfect unity the three Old Testament offices typically held by separate individuals (Zechariah 6:12-13). The tribe of Levi will be a vital part of this ministry, finally offering the offerings of the Lord with the heart which should have always been present, but which was, in so many instances, found to be absent.
Verse four makes it clear that the Lord's offerings are not pleasurable unless brought with the proper heart. This principle appears so much in Scripture that one finds himself expounding it over and over again. A principle which appears so often ought to be heeded with a true sense of sobriety. A gospel which focuses on mental ascent and love while passing over the seriousness of humility and the fear of the Lord has left in its wake a sea of self-deceived people who are attempting to have a relationship with God apart from the realities of spiritual regeneration. God's salvation has always been one of humility, the fear of the Lord, and simple faith. This terminology may sound as though works were being mingled with faith, but as one studies Scripture, he soon finds that these three factors are all molded into one. In true salvation they are all present. True faith is not born apart from a biblical understanding of repentance and the fear of God (Isaiah 57:15, 66:2, Acts 16:29-31), and humility and the fear of God do a man no good if he is not willing to simply trust.