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07 28th, 2017

The Refiner’s Fire

“The words of Yahweh are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Psalms 12:6.

The ancient method of refining or trying silver was to place the solid mass of metal in a clay crucible which was then placed in a clay or iron furnace and melted into a liquid. As the liquid boiled, the impurities in the metal would rise to the surface and be skimmed off. That which is skimmed off is called dross. The refiner would continue the process several times until no dross remained. If the refiner could see his reflection in the liquid silver, he knew the process was complete.

“The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but Yahweh tries (tests) the hearts.” Proverbs 17:3.

This testing of man’s heart is often equated with the refining process of gold or silver. Yahweh, our Creator, is the refiner. Sin, selfishness, pride, etc., are the dross that needs to be removed.

“But Yahweh has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as you are this day.” Deuteronomy 4:20.

Israel was in the refiner’s furnace while they were kept in misery and bondage by the Egyptians.

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10.

Affliction and suffering are the means Yahweh uses to tests the heart of His people. It is the heat that He applies in the lives of all His children.

“For you, O Elohim, have proved us: you have tried us, as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid affliction upon our loins. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but you brought us out into a wealthy place.” Psalms 66:10-12.

While we never know exactly when Yahweh will remove us from the furnace, we can rest assured that He will and that we will be purified and blessed as a result of that affliction. Sometimes He may end one affliction upon us and send another shortly after. Each affliction, each situation in which we suffer results in more dross being removed from our lives.

“Your silver is become dross, your wine mixed with water:” Isaiah 1:22.

Yahweh looks upon all His children as silver or gold. We are precious in His sight, but He knows that we can be worth even more once we are refined and purged of our impurities.

In the following two verses, we see the wicked being equated with dross.

“You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love your testimonies.” Psalms 119:119.

“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the refiner. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.” Proverbs 25:4,5.

When a nation or kingdom is being refined as a whole, it is the wicked who are the dross, but when individuals are being refined, it is the wickedness, sins, carnality, etc., that are the dross.

“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away your dross, and take away all your tin:” Isaiah 1:25.

A chunk of silver that was removed from a mine has other alloys mixed in with it. These alloys, such as tin, can be very difficult to separate from the silver and require much more refining than other alloys. So it is with us. Certain sins are deeply rooted in us and are difficult to purge from us. It takes skill, time and patience on the part of the refiner to accomplish his objective of purity.

“Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?” Jeremiah 9:7.

Israel’s sins became more prevelant as the years past, so much so that Yahweh had no choice but to put them through the refining process again.

“And the word of Yahweh came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus says Yahweh Elohim; Because you are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in my anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall you be melted in the midst thereof; and you shall know that I Yahweh have poured out my fury upon you.” Ezekiel 22:17-22.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, but we should not fear the refining that our Heavenly Father puts us through, knowing that it is for our good.

“The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melts in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because Yahweh has rejected them.” Jeremiah 6:29,30.

Sometimes the refining process does not work. The dross cannot be removed from the silver and is rejected by the refiner. Such was the case with many in Israel.

The refining process is not just for the wicked or the sinner. Yahweh considered Job to be a man of righteousness, yet he was tried as well.

“But he knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10.

At this point, I would like to list several prophecies of future refinings.

“And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” Daniel 11:35.

“And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:9,10.

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my Elohim.” Zechariah 13:9.

And the one that is most relevant to us;

“Behold, I will send my messenger [John the Baptist], and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Master [Yeshua the Messiah], whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, says Yahweh of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appears? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Yahweh an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:1-3.

Yahweh has given Yeshua all power and authority and has appointed him to do the refining work in His people. He will take the same care as Yahweh would in doing that work. As a refiner of silver, Yeshua will patiently wait for the dross to surface and then remove it. He won’t keep us in the fire too long, but will be watchful in pulling us out at just the right time. He will continue the process until he sees his reflection in us. He desires to see us conformed to his image, that is, totally dead to self so that Yahweh’s Spirit can move in us unhindered by our fleshly desires.

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:10-12.

The process of separating the chaff from the wheat is meant to accomplish the same goal as refining silver or gold. The chaff is the outer casing of wheat which needs to be removed before the wheat can be eaten. When our chaff is removed, all that is left is what’s desirable, that which nourishes others.

The trying or testing of our hearts is not something to be avoided because it is uncomfortable for us. We should have the attitude that David had when he wrote;

“Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalms 26:2.

“Search me, O Elohim, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:” Psalms 139:23.

The Apostle Peter wrote the following;

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Messiah’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Messiah, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of Elohim rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify Elohim on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of Elohim: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the good news of Elohim? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the wicked and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of Elohim commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:12-19.

The key to enduring suffering is to totally commit our souls to Yahweh. We should not seek to escape the trials we go through. To do so is to say to Yeshua, “I don’t want to be made pure!” Nor should we wallow in self pity as we try to figure out what is happening to us or why we are suffering so. Instead, we should recognize that we are partaking of Yeshua’s sufferings, that we are being refined through affliction, and rejoice in it.

“So that we ourselves glory in you in the assemblies of Elohim for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of Elohim, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of Elohim, for which you also suffer:” 2 Thessalonians 1:4,5.

When we suffer, it is not a condemnatory judgment from Yahweh, but a judgment designed for our good as this next verse shows.

“But the Elohim of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Messiah Yeshua, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

Acts 14:22 reads:

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Elohim.”

If you haven’t experienced tribulation yet, you will if you are Messiah Yeshua’s. With the state of the economy and world affairs, our tribulation can start sooner than we think.

“Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Yeshua Messiah:” 1 Peter 1:6,7.

Our trials can easily cause our hearts to be heavy and our souls to become depressed, but if we have the mind of Messiah, we can rejoice through it, knowing it is just for a season.

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Paul says our afflictions are “light” and quick, lasting only “a moment”. It sure doesn’t seem that way as we are going through it. Paul is evidently speaking of our afflictions in comparison to the glory we will experience for eternity.

One of the goals of being tried in the fire is to develop endurance or patience in us. James 1:3-4, 12 reads;

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience (endurance). But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

“Blessed is the man that endures trials: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Master has promised to them that love him.”

Yeshua knew there would be those who would not endure trials and afflictions when he spoke of the seeds sown on stony ground.

“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” Mark 4:16-17.

Not only will we ourselves be tried in the refiner’s fire, but our works will be tried as well.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

Only those works done for the Kingdom’s sake or for the benefit of mankind will abide the fire. Selfish works will be consumed.

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of Elohim, and joint-heirs with Messiah; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17,18.

We can endure afflictions, sufferings, persecutions, mockings, and any other trial we may undergo in the refining process if we will follow the example of Yeshua found in Hebrews 12:2;

“Looking unto Yeshua the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of Elohim.”

Let’s focus on the joy set before us, that is, the precious promises that have been made to us so that our inner man is strengthened and endures the race set before us.