“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.” (Malachi 3:2)
As Christians, it is not uncommon for us to have heard the Bible verse above before. We often touch strongly on the refiner’s fire, and how—just like gold or silver—the Christian life is tried and tested in the hardest of moments (the fire), and that is where our faith is purified and we come out stronger. However, let’s explore the fullers’ soap.
Firstly, we need to understand what fulling is. Fulling is a step in woollen cloth making, which involves the cleansing of cloth to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, until the material is pure white and is made thicker. During this process, the cloth also undergoes bleaching, wetting and beating of the fibres to a consistent and acceptable condition.
Unlike ordinary soap, the fullers’ soap contained alkaline substances that removed oil, and by mixing with the oil molecules, made them dissolvable in water. With the cloth soaked in soap and water, the fuller would beat and stamp out the impurities.
Now, how does this relate to us today? The goal is for us to be purified so that we are acceptable. Even though the fulling process can be difficult and sometimes harsh, this time of purification prepares us to “make offerings of righteousness.”
You may be going through a very tough moment right now, but remember the fullers’ soap—keep in mind how harsh the process is, but also remember the end result. Not only will you be cleansed, but you will also come out stronger.