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.”

Those that keep the way of the Lord may comfort themselves, when they are in affliction, with these three things:—[1.] That they are but tried. It is not intended for their hurt, but for their honour and benefit; it is the trial of their faith, 1 Pt. 1:7. [2.] That, when they are sufficiently tried, they shall come forth out of the furnace, and not be left to consume in it as dross or reprobate silver. The trial will have an end. God will not contend for ever. [3.] That they shall come forth as gold, pure in itself and precious to the refiner. They shall come forth as gold approved and improved, found to be good and made to be better. Afflictions are to us as we are; those that go gold into the furnace will come out no worse. – Matthew Henry

Image by Kenny Louie on Flickr, CC by 2.0.

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