By Gordon Crook
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:3
God is in the business of refinement. He alone can produce the refined silver that is pure. Often we try to produce the same, but all we end up with is a slightly polished lump of dirt.
The refining process is not one of polishing up the existing lump of dirt, it is a process of removing the old useless dirt to show the silver. This process is not easy, it requires fire and time. It requires removal of the old worthless stuff. “Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” Proverbs 25:4 “And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:” Isaiah 1:25
The fire is not necessarily a pleasant place to be, but it is the place where refinement happens. It is essential to the process. This process has been known since old times, and that is why it is used to illustrate what God needs to do in our lives.
As the refiner, God sits to watch, as He is the only one who knows how long it takes to get the pure silver, and what is dross that needs to be removed. Each batch of ore needs to be processed the correct amount of time. We cannot make any claim as to when we think it is enough. We cannot compare ourselves to others, as only the refiner knows the right processing time.
The silver is not very useful until it has been refined. The old dross that is mixed in reduces the value. It reduces the shine and makes the silver less workable. When truly purified, silver can be polished to a mirror finish. As it is being purified, it naturally becomes very shiny while still molten from the fire. As we are being purified, we will become as a mirror that reflects the glory of God. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:7.
So, when we find ourselves in the fire, we need to be reminded that God is doing something that will result in great value. Sometimes it is hard to envision the results of the refining process while we are in the midst of it, but we can be certain that the refiner knows what He is doing. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” 1 Peter 4:12