God wants a remnant. Actually, He doesn’t want just a remnant of ragtag survivors. He wants a people—a great multitude at that, which no one can count; and He wants them from every nation, from all tribes and tongues. He is also particular about dress code and behavior: clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9, NASB) The purpose is revealed to us in John 4:23, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
The words of Malachi 3:3 (beautifully set to music in “Messiah”, the Christmas oratorio written by George Frideric Handel in 1741) tell us how these worshipers are produced: “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.”
In II Peter 3:10 – 11, we are told that since a day is coming when all the world’s works within us will be burned up for our purification and refining, then we are to be the sort of people who are holy in conduct and actively pursuing godliness. Part of our pursuit of holiness and godliness is pure preparation—being prepared where it matters—deep down where no human eyes can see, but God sees clear as day into the thoughts, intentions, and attitudes of our hearts. These are the areas that can make or break us as believers in Christ. These are the areas that can make or break us in our personal preparation as true worshipers, and in our corporate / Body preparation as people of God. These are the areas that taint or destroy our witness or our testimony as believers in Christ. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
In this Advent time of actively waiting, the quality of our preparation is being tested. Waiting by itself is already a test of fire. It tests our patience, for it is in the impatience of our lives that we become impetuous and compulsive. Knowing the frailty of our human nature the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit actively work with us in synergy as we “wash” and “hydrate” ourselves in the pure water of His Word until we have no spot or wrinkle and are holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25b – 27)
All this brings us to the place where we live a faith that is steadfast and true, a hope that is alive and burning, a love that is deep and constant, and a joy that is bubbling up and eternal. We become a people, a multitude of true worshipers, prepared for the coming of our Lord.