Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Burned Away

Ezekiel 22:18-22
(18) "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver.
(19) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.
(20) As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you.
(21) I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it.
(22) As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LORD; I have poured out my wrath upon you."

Ezekiel continues his statements of woe upon Israel. This passage is particularly striking. He is not describing a purification process, but a complete destruction. Note verse 18. All of the house of Israel has become dross.

This stands in contrast to the Christian life. The process of sanctification is often compared to a silversmith burning the dross away in a fire. Many have seen the email that describes how a silversmith knows when he has burned enough away and he says, "That's easy. It's when I can see myself in the silver that I know I'm done." This is then compared to how we are sanctified when we look like Jesus.

This is a lovely image and I think it does apply to the Christian. But for those who do not know Jesus there is going to be a melting process. The problem is that there is nothing pure in there to save. All of it is going to be consumed. I believe that this concept has a parallel in the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15
(11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--
(13) each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
(14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
(15) If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

There is going to be fire. Some may have works that survive the testing. However, none of that will matter if the foundation is not Christ. I hope that He is the foundation for your life. There is going to be final judgment. Are you ready for the fire?

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