Although the process of refining precious metals has changed with technology, the goal is the same. It is a process of purification. Refining begins with a material that is impure and it concludes only when what remains is free from the undesirable materials. Much of it is simply burned away.
With modern technology the process of refining silver has become an exact science but it has not always been this way. In ancient times silver was refined over fire. Silver is precious and delicate so the refiner had to fully fix their attention to the process.
If the ore was held too close to the fire or kept in too long, it would burn up. If it was held too far away or removed too soon, it would remain impure and not meet the refiner’s standard.
Malachi 3:3 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver…”
A campfire can serve as a companion on a lonely night. It can warm us when we are cold and provide light in the darkness. Yet if you have held closely to a fire for long enough you’ve felt the burning. To be held so close is uncomfortable and the natural human response to discomfort is to get away from that which causes it.
The refiner’s fire is not for our comfort. It is for our purging and purification. It can be scary and seem as though we will burn up. Yet we are precious to the Refiner and so we can trust that His eye never leaves us. He alone knows the precise moment when to remove the silver from the flame.
Note that the precious material is retained. Only the impurities are burned away. When we receive Christ and bow our knee before Him, He comes to live within us. Still there are times when we become frustrated by the persistence of our old, dead selves.
Yet we are not being changed so much as purified. We are “Christ in _____ (fill in your name)” from the very moment we invite Him to be our Savior and rule our hearts. There is pure silver within but it must be extracted from the undesirable materials. It must be purged and purified.
It is the LORD who built the Refiner’s fire and it is He who tends to it. You are precious in His sight and so as He refines you He watches closely. He will not allow the fire to consume you and neither will He pull you from the purification process too soon.
As I ponder this truth another verse comes to mind. “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:6). It all ties together.
Our God is faithful. He is attentive. He is gentle. But above all, He is HOLY. He has consecrated a remnant to be set apart. The precious material is already at the heart of who you are and over time He is drawing it out until He looks upon you and sees only the face of His Son.
Surrender to the Refiner and His refinement so that you may be presented before our LORD without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish on the great day.
~ Mitch Salmon