2 But who can endure(F) the day of his coming?(G) Who can stand(H) when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire(I) or a launderer’s soap.(J)
ESV - 2 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.
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I would say that the references to both a refiner's fire and fuller's soap in the passage cited in the question are being used as symbolic of purification, similar to the way in which a refiner of metallic ore separates the pure, precious portion of the metal from the useless dross surrounding it by subjecting it to fire. Similarly, the fuller's soap removes oil, dirt, and other impurities in the process of making cloth from wool. By using these metaphors, Malachi is indicating that God would be like that fire and soap in separating out those members of the priestly tribe of Levi (as well as of Israel as a whole) who still participated in the true worship of Him, uncorrupted by the types of practices mentioned in Malachi 3:5.
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