Isaiah 48:10–“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver: I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
For the fire-refining process of silver, the initial product of copper smelting (impure black copper) was repeatedly melted to purify it; gold and silver dissolved in this and thus provided a means of recovering these precious metals. The main activity was to heat the copper again and again. In the various Bible references, the refining of precious metals is used figuratively to illustrate the kind of trial God’s children are called upon to go through. If they are of the right metal, the scum will finally be blown away, to leave pure, clear, shining silver; the person will go through trials, refine themselves while in it, and overcome trials through their faith in God. If of base metal, they will be like the scum that is refined in vain because even though the refiner blows fiercely to burn away the lead with fire, only lead scum appears; the person sent into trials remain themselves and their wickedness does not get purged out.
In the old days, a merchant would place a precious stone or jewel on a highly-polished, highly-reflective silver platter to examine it closely. This silver platter would expose all the flaws of the gem. In the Bible, it is not said that God will purify us by putting us on a silver platter to expose our flaws. On the contrary, it is clearly said that God has “chosen” us from the furnace of affliction. The word “chosen” is “bekar”, which means to examine. He has examined us while we were in the furnace of affliction.
If you were placed on a highly-reflective silver tray today, what would God see in you? Does your faith in God make you say “I will trust in God anyway”, “My God is able to pull me out of this too”? Are we using God as an ATM card to get what we want, when we want? Do we have a desperate love to know Him and love Him for all our days? God closely examines us when we are in the furnace of affliction; God will use our times of despair to see what our true motives are in our relationship with Him. But if He closely watches us, it also means that He is closely watching over us at the same time, to ensure that His child is not harmed in the refining fires. Remember this the next time you go through fires – this is an apt time to evangelize to the world, and prove to yourself and God that you trust in Him. Embrace your trial and the suffering involved, only because you want to be cleansed for a deeper, personal relationship with your Savior.