” ‘ “As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, the LORD, have poured out My wrath on you.” ‘ ” ~ Ezekiel 22:22
When I first read this verse, I thought it sounded quite harsh. Then it occurred to me that silver is a precious metal, and part of its purification process is melting it in the fire. You don’t melt silver to destroy and dispose of it. You melt it to refine it, to make it usable.
Judah had been warned (and warned, and warned…) to turn away from their idolatry and return to God. Yet the people refused to listen. God’s wrath was going to be poured out upon them, but not to destroy them. To save them.
When our children are unruly, we as parents must discipline them. Sometimes the disobedience of children can lead them into extremely dangerous situations. In those cases, the correction might be harsh, in order to grab their attention and save them from the danger. This is what was happening with God’s people. They were going deeper and deeper into dangerous practices, such as offering their infants as burnt offerings to the false gods. Their sin was literally destroying them.
God tells us He disciplines His children.
“My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” ~ Proverbs 3:11-12
Because God loves us – He delights in us – He corrects us.
“But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:32
God’s discipline, when we heed it, keeps us from condemnation.
” ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.’ ” ~ Revelation 3:19
Again, because God loves us, He points out our sin and doesn’t want us to continue in it, but instead to remember Him, repent, and return to our first love, Jesus!
In order to be at its best, silver must be melted down, purified, and molded into the desired shape. How true for us as well! Many passages pertain specifically to the people of Israel (Ezekiel 22:22, Malachi 3:3, Zechariah 13:9), but God is refining, purifying, and reshaping all of His children.
“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” ~ Psalm 51:6-10 (NKJV)
“You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned–In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” ~ Isaiah 64:5-8 (NKJV)
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” ~ Titus 2:11-15 (NASB)
I love this last passage! God’s grace has appeared ~ unearned, undeserved mercy, forgiveness, and love ~ through the blessed hope and glory of our God and Savior, Jesus. He gave Himself for us, to redeem and purify us, that we might be called His own, be “zealous for good deeds”, and tell others of the good news of Jesus and of God’s grace.
“My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, or loathe His reproof” ~ Proverbs 3:11
I am working on being more “teachable”. If I want to be useful for God, I must be willing to be refined and reshaped, no matter how painful the process!