Refiner’s fire and fullers’ soap

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap…Malachi 3:5

The great English composer, George F. Handel used a corpus of scripture to write his famous oratorio, MESSIAH. This great piece of music is among one of my favorites because it beautifully tells the story of salvation. From an early age when our family enjoyed the Messiah while making Christmas cookies. I memorized portions of scripture while listening to the majestic music.

One chorus in the first part of the oratorio is taken from the book of the prophet, Malachi. It describes the coming Messiah as being like a refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap. I understand that a refiner’s fire describes Jesus as one who would purify us like fire purifies metal, but fuller’s soap? What in the world is that?

I decided to do a little investigating. From what I discovered fuller’s soap helped prepare fabric, like wool for future use. One author describes it this way: a fuller was someone who cleaned and thickened fabric to make it full. The process involved cleaning, bleaching, wetting and beating the fibers to a consistent and usable condition. (

Advent is a good time to ask the Lord to refine and make us full so we can readily be used in His service. Like metal or fabric, there is always a preparation process before either are ready for use. As metal needs strength and fabric needs volume, so we need spiritual preparation for the work God calls us to do.

May Advent be such a time for us, as we pray, reflect, and consider our relationship with the one who came to set us free. We were called for a purpose and Advent is a good time to consider what that purpose is…

Godspeed for the Advent journey,

Pastor Lane

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