For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance. Psalm 66:10-12
Fire. As Christians, we are taught it is to be feared for it is the seal of doom. But is this always the case? I have found many fascinating perspectives in my studies of biblical fire in recent days.
- The Greek word for “fire” is “pur.” This is the word from whence we get all forms of the word pure and purify.
- Throughout the Bible we find many uses for fire—purifying and cleansing, illuminating, anointing, consuming and devouring, empowering, punishing, protecting, refining, baptizing, revealing, testing—all those actions for one word listed over 500 times in the Bible!
- God is called a “consuming fire” eight times throughout the Bible.
- The name “Yahweh” in the Hebrew picture language contains the word “fire” or “strong devourer.”
- Fire is an essential ingredient in the process of transforming character of people and readying them to be an effective witness. Mark 9:49 says, “For everyone will be salted with fire.”
- It is necessary for conforming us into the image of Christ and refining us as gold. “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, `They are My people,’ And they will say, `The LORD is my God.’ ” Zech. 13:9
Because of learning these things, I now see that God’s consuming fire is not something to be feared, but something to be welcomed. If I am to be conformed to the image of Christ, I must be put through fire so that everything in me that is not pure can be burned away (consumed), and I can become as refined gold. Only the dross will be burned away, not what is worth keeping.
I have also realized that for those around me, including my children and loved ones, I should not fear or despise it when they are put through fire. Otherwise I might be tempted to rescue them out of the fire (douse them with buckets of water), and they will miss a very important process of true growth and transforming beauty. I must entrust those I love in the capable hands of the Gentle and Loving Refiner and His fire, waiting patiently to see what beautiful and priceless decoration is being made for His new Temple!
Fire is never pleasant at the time, but the radiant results are well worth it. If you are feeling the heat in your life today, trust that God has a plan to bring you through as gold—empowered, refined, and ready for His service. May we all become as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, so refined into the image of Christ that when put into fire, nothing is left to burn or even smell like smoke (see Daniel 3:19-30).
“But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. ” Job 23:10