Purified by fire: Job 23

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Today’s reading: Job 21-23.

 “Gold does not fear the fire. The furnace can only make the gold purer and brighter.” Warren Wiersbe

The same weightlessness of outer space, which frees an astronaut to float without effort, also renders him weak and atrophied when he returns to earth – unless he exercises strenuously while in orbit. So each of us needs to exercise our faith in order to see it grow stronger and more capable. Sometimes we are wise enough to test ourselves, but more often it falls to God to begin the trial. In an earlier post I asked what kept Job faithful, and here lies part of the answer: he knew it was all a test.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

The next question, then, is how Job knew he would pass the test. He was in the furnace, but he didn’t know how long he would be there. Esther faced a furnace and said, “If I perish, I perish.” Daniel’s three friends faced a furnace, believing God would save them, and still confessed, “but if not…” Job confidently claimed victory, and here’s why: he knew himself, he knew he was a righteous man, and he knew God was just. “Fine,” you say. “God knew Job was righteous, and Job knew he was righteous, but I know myself and I’m definitely not righteous.” True enough. In our own flesh we are all just filthy rags. But in Christ we are the righteousness of God! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

You are going to face trials. God uses them to test us, to prove us, and to improve us.

  • God tests us to see if we will obey him (Exodus 16:4, Deuteronomy 8:2).
  • Testing teaches us to fear the LORD (Exodus 20:20).
  • Sometimes we are put on trial because of our profession of faith (Acts 23:6).
  • Sometimes we are put on trial in order to give a witness of our faith (Mark 13:11).
  • The testing of our faith produces perseverance (Romans 5:3, James 1:3).
  • Because of our perseverance we receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
  • Our perseverance in trials strengthens the faith of others (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
  • Our faith, tested and proven genuine by trial, will result in praise, glory, and honor to God and Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).
  • We become like Christ through suffering (Philippians 3:10).

When you are in the furnace, the suffering is real and your faith will be tested. If you are in Christ, you can say with Job, “when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

Image by Kenny Louie on Flickr, CC by 2.0.

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2 thoughts on “Purified by fire: Job 23

  1. I would also add:

    13 Every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.
    14 If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
    15 If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

    and also:

    And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.

    What is this process that sounds so much like a crucible? It appears to separate us from our sins through a trial by fire. The Church has a name for it. It is called Purgatory.

    • But isn’t the Catholic idea of purgatory something that takes place after death? The trials that God’s people go through are trials of the living that make us more Christ like in this life. The revealing that takes place by fire (as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3) doesn’t change the dead – ti only reveals what was already true.

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