Jesus identified John the Baptist to the people as the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy.
Jesus said, "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. "This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare Your way before You.'” (Luk 7:26-27)
In saying this, Jesus quoted the prophecy given by Malachi: "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts." (Mal 3:1)
Jesus Baptizes with Fire
John also knew he was fulfilling Malachi's prophecy. This explains how he knew the Lord Jesus would baptize with fire, when he said, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mat 3:11).
John knew the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Malachi that the Lord would come to His temple as a “Refiner’s Fire."
The Holy Spirit said: "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap." (Mal 3:2)
A refiner's fire is used to purify, and that is what the Holy Spirit said the Lord would do. "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." (Mal 3:3)
Jesus never denied that He would baptize with fire. In fact he declared, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Luk 12:49)
The word for "cast" in this verse means "to throw." So just in case you weren't aware of it, Jesus came to throw fire on the earth. And He was eager to do so! He said, "How I wish it were already kindled!"
But first He had to undergo His own baptism of fire through the things He suffered in His passion and crucifixion -- not for any sin of His own, since He had no sin, but for our sin. That's why he said, "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" (Luk 12:50)
Purpose of the Fire Baptism
If you want a glimpse of what the fire baptism does in a person's life, Malachi and Jesus both spoke of it. The Holy Spirit spoke through Malachi that "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:4-5)
There was a sort of two-fold purpose of the fire baptism:
On the one hand, a person receives the baptism with fire and allows the Lord to purify their life, their offerings will be pleasing to the LORD. That includes the offering of their life, as well as anything else they offer to the Lord, including the sacrifice of praise, thanks, and the offering of their body. For such people, who love and ask for the fire of God, it will be glorious. "'But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the LORD of hosts." (Mal 4:2-3)
On the other hand, for those who refuse the fire and do not amend their ways, it will be devastating. The Lord said He would draw near to such people for judgment; and He would be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Him. For such people, who refuse the holy fire, it will set them ablaze and leave them neither root not branch. "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the LORD of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal 4:1)
Jesus said the holy fire baptism would bring division. "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luk 12:51-53). There are those in the Church today who love the holy fire and those who reject it.
It will be as Isaiah prophesied: "'If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.' Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isa 1:19-20)
Putting it All Together
If you have never received the baptism of fire, then you need to ask for it. Don't be afraid of it, rather be afraid of what will happen if you don't have it! Very soon, everyone will undergo this baptism, whether they like it or not. Jesus said, "For everyone will be salted with fire." (Mar 9:49) One way or another, everyone will eventually experience the fire of God.
The ones who are willing, who fear the Lord's Name, and welcome the holy fire will be purified. Their offerings will be pleasing to the Lord. They will go forth and skip like calves. They will trample down the wicked. The ones who cling to their sin will experience the fire differently. The Lord will be a swift witness against them. The arrogant and evildoers will be like chaff thrown into the flaming furnace. It will set them ablaze, and the fire will not be quenched (Mk 9:44, 46, 48).
The Lord is casting fire on the earth in these last days, so embrace it and let it do its work in you. It's high time we sought holiness and consecration. Love the holy fire, desire the fire, cry out for it, and receive it from the Lord. Let Him purify your whole life now, so that you won't be ashamed at His soon glorious appearing.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Holy Fire Baptism, The Burning Ones, Songs of the Holy Fire, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, and The Happy Hunters on Fire. I also recommend Should you fear the Lord? and Salvation with Fear and Trembling. You may also access the Main Directory for this blog, or my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.