The Refiner’s Fire – Part 1


Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.    Psalm 50:3
Courtesy of New York Gold and Silver Refiners

As a young man while in college, I worked in a Jewelry store as the resident “gopher”. My duties included running for coffee, delivery boy and being a salesman to some of the least prospective, paying customers. Occasionally, I would watch as the craftsman jeweler melted scrap gold into small, single ingots to be sold later. The process required placing the gold in a crucible and applying intense heat. The gold would transform into a liquid that could be poured into a waiting mold. But, there came a climax in the process when the gold became so hot there would be mini-explosions in the crucible. Any and all impurities mixed with the scrap gold would burn off and be eliminated with a pop leaving a pure, refined weight of gold. This refining process of purification was called “burning off the dross”.

In Malachi chapter 3, it speaks of a day when God will refine the nation of Israel during the period known as the Great Tribulation. Like the process I described above, God will use the crucible of the seven year Tribulation and the intense heat of wrath as a means to remove the dross from all that is Israel and the world at large.

“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 launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.  Malachi 3:2-3   

Refining of the World

The Tribulation will not be a localized event unique to Israel or Jerusalem nor will it be concentrated specifically towards the Jews. The entire world will experience the full weight of the judgements and refining of God with a shaking it has never experienced before. The Church, as the Bride of Christ, will have already been raptured prior to the start of the Tribulation which begins at the signing of the covenant between Israel and the Anti-Christ.

In his book “The Footsteps of Messiah”, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains the Tribulation period has three purposes. The first is to make an end to wickedness in the world at both the national and the individual levels. The God of creation is always patient with mankind calling people to faith until finally the cup of wickedness runs over and the time of recompense comes due. In the days prior to the Tribulation, the world will experience a crescendo of sin and lawlessness much like we see building today.

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. Isaiah 13:9 (also see Isaiah 24:19-20)

Even during the Tribulation the Lord calls people to repent and turn back to Him. But as judgement falls many curse God rather than repent because they love their sin and wickedness more than Him (Ref – Revelation 9:20-21 & 16:21).

 For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; Who can endure it? “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.  Joel 2:11b-13

Again, no one living at the time the Tribulation begins will escape the burning off of the dross of iniquity except the true Church of Jesus Christ taken to Heaven via the Rapture. With the world already in shock over the disappearance of so many people, those who had professed to be Christians but were left behind because their faith was in name only will realize the Biblical prophecies about the End-Times are true and the second advent of Christ is at hand.

Tribulation Revival

The second purpose of the Tribulation is to bring about a revival of faith in Christ. Even in the midst of the wrath, God in His mercy calls mankind to true faith. We see this as a group of 144,000 Jewish witnesses roam the Earth proclaiming the Gospel in those days. (Ref – Revelation 7:1-8). In addition, two anointed witnesses minister in Jerusalem for the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation with a show of miraculous power and proclamation of truth (Ref – Revelation 11:3-6). A great myriad from every nation, peoples, tribes and tongues will come to true faith in Christ during the days of the Tribulation as a result of these anointed Gospel preachers. But the faith of those who believe will tested even until death.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Revelation 7:9-11

This great believing multitude will be clothed in white robes representing the righteousness of Christ through salvation and faith in His Name. Unfortunately as we see in the verses above, those who come to faith in Christ during those days will be tested and martyred as the Anti-Christ unleashes his vengeance on all who hold fast to their profession of faith in Christ. (Also see Revelation 6:9-11).

The Refining of Israel

The third purpose is unique to Israel and the Jews. They as a nation rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah in His first advent setting the course for the promised scattering of the Jews as a people to the four corners of the globe. But God in these days has been regathering the Jews back to the land promised to Abraham. With the re-birth of the nation of Israel in 1948, the prophecies of Isaiah 66:8-9 and Ezekiel 37:11-13 have come to pass. These and other prophetic fulfillments will usher in the Tribulation days for Israel known as Jacob’s Trouble.

And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will 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, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”  Zechariah 13:8-9

It is a time of purification and refinement for the Jews to burn off the dross of unbelief and kindle national repentance. God has unfinished business with Israel because of their continued stiff-necked unbelief and rejection of His word. Finally, after the wrath of the Tribulation and the second coming of Christ, all of Israel will acknowledge Christ as their Messiah as we see in Zechariah 13. The return of Christ is the climax of the seven year Tribulation when the nations shall all be judged and Jesus will establish His reign over the Earth.

Out of the Fire

Out of the refiners fire of the Tribulation, will come a time of true peace upon the Earth for 1,000 years known as the Millennial reign of Christ. He will rule with truth and righteousness as the nations and mankind finally recognize the truth of God’s word, His sovereignty and eternal nature as Creator of all.

And a throne shall be established in lovingkindness; and one shall sit thereon in truth, in the tent of David, judging, and seeking justice, and swift to do righteousness.  Isaiah 16:5 (ASV)

It is only through true faith in Jesus Christ does man find real freedom, peace and the reality of being conformed into something God considers precious and of true value. In my most recent post Beauty for Ashes, I explain how Jesus can take a life and create something of unexpected beauty from the ashes of life.

The way of escape from these things is the rapture, and the requirement to qualify for the rapture is acceptance of Messiah (Jesus Christ) now.

Arnold Fructenbaum “The Footsteps of the Messiah”

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