consumed or refined?

nobody likes a process, but here we are, processing.

recent events in the world may have life feeling like a trial, specifically, a trial by fire. I’ve been pretty checked out of social media recently, because a lot of the content I saw was draining and made me feel kinda hopeless. I’d think to myself, what’re we supposed to do in the face of all these systemic injustices? how’re we supposed to carry on?

y’all know I like to learn new things, so my digital hiatus has been put to pretty good use. recently, I’ve been focused on understanding the refining process. if you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a summary:

  • there are lots of things you can do with metal. refining is the only process that gives you the same metal you started with in a purer state. others (smelting, calcining) chemically change the metal. yes, I did my research.
    • there are different types of refining that I could make analogies for, but this would turn into a very long post. we’re focused on trials–I mean–refining, by fire.
    • scientifically, oxygen or air is added to an impure liquid metal as a way to remove impurities. when does the blacksmith know the metal’s pure? he can see his reflection in it.

now run that all back.

you’re the metal, and God’s the blacksmith. but who wants to go through fire?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did.

(I’d insert Daniel 3:14-27, but it’s a lot of words so I sparknotes-ed it)

so, this trio had refused to serve King Nebuchadnezzer’s gods or worship the image he set up (we’re made in God’s image yeah? look into that). someone went and snitched, so Mr. Neb got mad and confronted them. he said “worship my image or get thrown in the furnace. who can save you?”. they responded saying that their God could save them, even from fire, and regardless of what happened, they weren’t serving Mr. Neb’s gods or nunna that. so they got tied up and thrown into literal fire, and while they were in a furnace so hot that the men who threw them in died, a fourth man appeared.

recap. three men went in, tied up. the onlookers saw four men, walking around, unharmed. then three men come out, because Mr. Neb is so shook by what just happened that he tells the “servants of the Most High God” to come out of the fire. it says that their clothes weren’t burned, and they didn’t even smell like the fire they’d just been through.

this passage always makes me think of one of my favorites:

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

now with these examples in mind, I don’t want the trials–fires–to be something we fear. we have to trust that God’s with us, always.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

we’re not here to be buddied up with (this kind of) fear, ight? moving on to a passage I read during quiet time recently, the real catalyst for this Bible breakdown:

““I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people, That you may know and assay their way.” All of them are stubbornly rebellious, Going about as a talebearer. They are bronze and iron; They, all of them, are corrupt. The bellows blow fiercely, The lead is consumed by the fire; In vain the refining goes on, But the wicked are not separated. They call them rejected silver, Because the LORD has rejected them.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭6:27-30‬ ‭NASB‬‬

looking at this passage, we see what God’s fire does to the wicked. the “you” here is Jeremiah, a prophet who God’s been talking to about just how hopeless Israel’s become. their impurities (lead) cannot be fully separated, so they’re consumed by the His fire and ultimately rejected. how can we avoid such a fate?

““Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts. “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:1-6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

let’s look at this. this is a passage from the Old Testament, but it refers to Jesus, who was on His way to offer us a way to be purified. His blood is the oxygen that removes our impurities, allowing us to be pure and pleasing to God. Jesus is the difference between being consumed and refined, between dying from the furnace’s heat and walking out of the flames unharmed. (note that the fear here is the good kind. if you want a Bible breakdown about the difference between fear fear and fearing God, let me know in the comments)

coming to God (justification) doesn’t just make the sinning go away. we still have a lifelong process (there’s that word again) of sanctification to go through.

sanctification – the process of being made or becoming holy

when you put justification and sanctification together, you get transformation. you get a metal that’s becoming more and more pure, being able to reflect the Refiner Who’s working on it.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

are these passages familiar? we see imagery of the refining process a lot in the Bible, but are we talking it literally?

there will be trials in this life. everyone’s going through something. thankfully, God’s made a way, even through the flames. these passages show:

  1. the difference it makes to have God by your side
  2. what we gain when we come out on the other side
  3. that people will believe because of what they see you come out of

over and over, these stories and passage show God’s grace at face value. His grace is sufficient to allow His love to transforms us. it’s all you need.

““For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts.”
‭‭Malachi‬ ‭4:1-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

will you be consumed or refined by His fire?

here are some things you can do this week to grow towards embracing this process:

  1. reading more about what refining really looks like, learning God’s goal for it
    • pruning is a similar process (check out John 15)
  2. growing more in self-awareness and discernment so we can recognize what in us isn’t reflecting God’s image
    • this also requires knowing what God even looks like
  3. striving to grow through what we go through, knowing that God’s with us through it all

(y’all see how proper I sound when I’m writing to lead a Bible study? action points and everything. share your reflections with me–I’d love to hear them!)

be blessed bbys ✨

Author: Iyaniwura Olarewaju

† | naija | nj | Cornell

2 thoughts on “consumed or refined?”

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