Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 21 - February/March 2008 > Being Tested in the Fire

Being Tested in the Fire

by Mary Turbet

Being Tested in the Fire

Editor's note - See also the Editorial on this theme

These days we know that silver and gold are not the most useful metals in the world but nevertheless they are very precious ones. Silver ore can he reduced to a rich concentrate which is then smelted. The product of the smelting is further refined to remove metals associated with it.

Pure silver is too soft to stand up to constant wear. It is usually mixed with copper to form an alloy which can then be used to make coins. jewellery etc,

Sterling silver contains as much or more silver than British coins did, which at one stage was 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. As you all know, the word "sterling" is used to mean high quality silver whereas silver plate is made by coating metals with pure silver or silver and copper alloy.

Silver nitrate is made by dissolving silver in nitric acid and was widely used in Photography, silver plating and indelible ink.  Silver fulminate which contains nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in addition to silver has a much more exciting image.  It is a violent explosive.

It is apparently possible to dig gold out of the ground and find it is virtually 24 carat gold. Have you heard of the Holterman nugget? I went to the home of one of my little cubs one day and there on the mantel piece was a photo of one of his ancestors standing up next to this enormous nugget of gold. Yes, his name was Holterman. Most gold needs to be refined and if it is refined to the nth degree it will become FINE gold or 24 carat gold which is pure gold. 24 carat gold is, like silver, too soft to stand up to hard wear as it is, and so needs things added. It is also difficult to get a good polish on pure gold.

For yellow gold, copper and silver are added and for white gold palladium, silver, nickel and zinc.

It could be said that gold can become so refined, so pure that it loses some of its usefulness.  Can we be like this - Can we become people who appear to be very "holy" but in reality it is all show and people are turned away from God because they know that we are not genuine?

T o make yellow or white gold, something else has to he added. We also all need that something extra.  In John 15:5 Jesus tells us that "Apart from me you can do nothing".  Without God, without Jesus, without the Holy Spirit within us, we are nothing

Zechariah 13:8,9 says. "In the whole land declares the Lord, two thirds will he struck down and perish, yet one third will be left in it. This one third I will bring into the fire. I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.  They will call on my name and I will answer them, I will say, "these are my people" and they will say "The Lord is our God."

The NIV heads Isaiah 48 as "Stubborn Israel". The Lord was telling them what He thought of them - how he had told them beforehand about events that would happen, so that when they did happen, they would not say, My idols did this, my wooden image and my metal god ordained that. God goes on to say how the Israelites had not heard or understood these things "because from of old your ear has not been open". How often are we like this - hearing but not listening and taking in what is being said?  God was holding back his wrath because he did not want to cut the Israelites off.  See, He says "I have refined you though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For my own sake I do this. How can I let myself be defamed, I will not yield my glory to another"

Is God saying that if we, as Christians, do not obey his commandments we are defaming Him?  If this is so, and I believe it is, what an enormous responsibility is on our shoulders.

In conclusion I would just like to read you a little story. Many of you have probably heard it before.  I am not sure just how true it is but I do like it.

Malachi 3:3 says, He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.  He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible Study Group and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next meeting. That week she called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She did not mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity to watch with regard to the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot, and then she thought again about the verse that says. "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."  She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?   "He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

If to-day you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you, He loves and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

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