What are some of the first thoughts, images and maybe even feelings you get when you read the title Like Silver and Gold?

Let me try and guess:

1. You think of money

2. You picture something shiny

3. You think of jewelry

4. You feel excited

5. You feel a sense of longing (you WANT that money, that something shiny, the Michael Kors watch or bracelet)

Now how many of you thought of an anvil? Or maybe even a hammer? Better yet how many of you thought of the refining and polishing silver must undergo, and the hammering and testing that gold undergoes?

     If I could be honest, I’m more like the person who thought of numbers 1-5 rather than the three questions I just asked. Now we have ALL heard this nonsense about be generation “now”, the generation that can’t even wait for fast food because it’s too slow, but is it really nonsense? I would say that is a pretty big “Heck to the No!”, it is reality. If I could be brutally honest, I could care less about how things are made and the process they go through, so long as I have it, right?

But oh, how wrong. 

     You see, it isn’t that I want those things and that they attract me that is the issue. The issue is that just like I don’t care about the process it takes to get them, and just as I don’t care about the preparation needed for those things so long as the end goal of having them is reached, my life reflects it. Now bare with me a little, and put your seat-belt on (as my professor would say). I would even dare to say that your life reflects that mini worldview as well (hope you had your seat-belt on that was a pretty harsh brake). I find it extremely surprising that given the world around us that must go through multiple changes to reach it’s finished state, we do not treasure and cherish said preparation.

This all smacked me RIGHT IN THE FACE while I was reading the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament, specifically chapter 13 verses 8 &9.

*Rabbit trail,promise I’ll make full circle though* 

     I have another professor who always emphasizes the fact that the Old  Testament is not like the New Testament, in that it cannot be read and grasped as easily as can be done with the New Testament. The OT holds so much more weight behind it because of the underlying history of the people, as well as the geography, and the  accounts of the rest of Scripture from which any given story draws from. Luckily, there isn’t much that needs to be known within this passage that isn’t already known, but there is a thing or two that I would like to break down; which I will do as I go along so that it is an easier read for you all.

[8] In the whole land, says the Lord, two-thirds shall be cut off and perish,

     So here they are, Israel that is, the chosen people of God and Zechariah is telling them that God has just spoken to Him and informed him that 2/3 of them (people of Israel) are going to be cut off and perish… um what?! Pssshhhh! Not sure about you, but I know whose team I WOULDN’T be on for kickball if I were in school with Zechariah, the other team more than loses they perish. Yikes! So if the 2/3 are being cut off and perish that MUST mean the other 1/3 gets a clean break! …right? They don’t perish?

 

[8] and one third shall be left alive. 

CORRECT!

The End …. NOPE… 

[9] And I will put this third into the fire,

     Yes folks,the third that was kept alive. The third that did not get cut off and perish is to be put into the fire… At this point, I am quite positive the people of Israel weren’t to hopeful about falling into the category of the third. I wouldn’t want to be part of that third either, I’d take “guillotine” over “fire” ANY DAY. But the narrative continues.

[9] refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested.

   Saweet! *wipes brow* So it’s not literal fire, but it still does not sound pleasing to me at all. Not sure if any of you have seen how metals are forged and all that jazz, but it is a grueling process. There needs to be a VERY hot fire and the refining takes several turns of being placed in the fire and then being cooled in water; then the burrs must be taken off, followed by polishing. And gold, must be pressure tested, and boy does that sound pretty painful. So what in the world is the purpose for this? Glad you asked, the next part of the verse explains it, although indirectly.

[9] They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people”, and they will say, “The Lord is our God”  (NRSV)

     It is after the refining and after the testing that the calling on God’s name takes place and is followed by His answer. God’s answer is not just any ordinary answers either, He says “They are my people”, to which they respond, “The Lord is our God”.  Remember how I mentioned above that one of my professors mentioned the OT must be studied not merely read? Well, this last verse is a small example of why. Because in Hosea, God had, had enough with His people; a people who had been like a prostitute running from a stable home, to hold onto the past that had already let them go. In that time, God had told Hosea to name his daughter “Lo-Ruhamah” (which meant “no mercy”) because he would no longer have pity on them. God would also call on Hosea to name his son “Lo-ammi” (which meant not my people) because God said, “for you are not my people and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9). Even then, simply knowing that it was a form of God’s rejection of Israel it did not prove to be enough, because God was making allusions to the inclusive claim He made to Israel in Exodus 6:7 when he was to take them out of the hands of their captors and bring them into the land of Promise.

So it is in the fire that they are to be refined and tested, and after that refining and testing they are acknowledged once again as they were supposed to be. It is after the refining that they are:

          1.  Proved to be children of God

          2. God shows He is their Father

     It is when you are placed in the fire, that you are refined. It is in when you are placed in the fire that you are tested. It is when we are refined and tested through fire, when we learn obedience and learn to trust that we are able to be true sons and daughters. It is after being melted, molded, shaped, and hammered that we learn to call out to God. It is after the fire that we receive our seal to son-ship, it is when we are called His people and we are able to say He is our God.

     So now, I hope that just as I have learned that the fires we find ourselves in are important and crucial as preparation, because to be refined and to be tested in the fire is to be shown worthy of calling out and being answered by

You are my people and I am your God”

 PRAYER:

God, thank you. Even though I may not enjoy the heat nor the flames it is a necessary discipline, a necessary training. No child has been without discipline from their father and so it is with You. I pray that we sit in the kiln for as long as it takes for us to be refined, as long as it takes to be tested. I do not and I doubt anyone else desires the process, but the preparation is needed for the end result. Help us all find the strength and peace of mind to call out to You in the midst of the flames and even more so afterwards. And again thank you, because I can have hope that when I find myself in the fires of life, You are there waiting to lovingly announce I am Yours and You are mine.

                                                                                                                               Thank you to Lisi Niesner/Reuters for the picture found on ibtimes.com

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