Separation by Trial and Testing. (Part 4)
Another fascinating word that is associated with testing is: tsaraph Strong’s tells us that it is a primitive root; translated in the AV as try, founder, goldsmith, refine, refiner, melt, pure, purge away, casteth, finer and adds the following:
1) to smelt, refine, test
1a1) to smelt, refine
1a2) to test
1a3) to test (and prove true)
1a4) smelter, refiner, goldsmith (participle)
1b) (Niphal) to be refined
1c) (Piel) to be a refiner
1c1) refiner (participle)
Judges 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. The base metal is smelted to separate the various component materials from the desired metal. The principle is that there is a remnant that God wishes to take out from the main body of believers for special service and these are separated by trial and testing.
Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. David is confident that after God has tested and proved his heart that there will be no problem with what comes out of his mouth. David like Abraham was tried and separated for a task by God.
Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. Why would anyone ask God to examine them and to prove them in the way that the psalmist does? The only conclusion that I can come to is that there is a journey of self discovery that has to be made in all of us. Without testing and trial there can be no true assessment of who we really are. The simple truth is that it is easy for our heart and our mind to lie to us. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Only in the experiential world of trial by fire is the truth arrived at.
Psalm 66:10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. The overwhelming language that comes from Strong’s for this word is that of the refining yard where metal is heated, dross scooped off and the metal cooled bashed and then reheated so as to repeat the process. The repetition of the smelting process refines the metal producing a pure product fit for use. Without the refining process the metal whether gold or silver will be substandard; filled with impurities that will tarnish, rust, pit and corrode.
Silver and gold is tried in the fire and only by being heated and cooled is the dross cooked off and the silver left in the crucible to be used by the craftsman of our lives. The principle is that there is a separation that can only be achieved through the fire of God being applied to our lives. The dross of our lives will not be driven off by any other means.
Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. God wants a useful vessel that he can use and fill with himself both here and in eternity.
Isaiah 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: God in his mercy allows the fire in our lives to purge away the dross. It is not to give us a hard time but to allow the beauty of the silver and the gold to come to the fore and shine as they were intended.
Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. Israel is chosen in the furnace of affliction from all the other peoples on earth but not for its own sake; God allows Israel to go through the fire so that the name of God is not polluted by them. Israel is the type of the believer’s heart.
Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Again it is the Lord in his mercy that brings Israel to the meltdown point for her good.
Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. There is something about the refiner’s fire that drives out the insincerity that is so prevalent in the church of God. Again in this passage there is the image of a reduction process leaving a remnant that is pure.
Malachi 3:3 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. Here again there is a separation that takes place this time between the Levites who are to serve the Lord in the temple and the rest of Israel. With the privilege of intimacy comes the responsibility and the separation by trial that purifies. What is fascinating is that God takes the Israelite from the nations of the world and then further refining takes place for the refined; the sons of Levi.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: There is a separation to leadership that is sometimes not at all pleasant. Simon Peter was being chosen for special service and Jesus was allowing him to be tested. Again and again in our present time the leaders are separated and tried often using the trappings of the world: Sexual and financial temptation. The names of the fallen are not remembered long but the residue of their scummy lives clings to the name of God and the church. People reject Christ because we pollute the Name.
At the end of John 13 from around verse 31 we find Jesus telling the disciples that he is going to leave them to be glorified. Then he moves on to tell them that they are going to look for him and that they will not find him because, they can not follow him where he is going.
Then He gives them a new commandment to love one another. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is as if Peter has not even heard what Jesus has said. Simon Peter then makes his famous boast; “I will lay down my life for you.” And of course Jesus gives him the fateful message, “Will you really lay down your life for me?” “I tell you the truth, before the cockcrows, you will disown me three times!” First verse of 15 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “Trust in God trust also in me.” The thing that strikes me is the enormous compassion of our Lord Jesus. He realizes that Peter has not a clue what he is talking about when he promises to lay down his life for him. He looks past this and comforts Peter and the other disciples knowing that they will betray him. He gives them the assurance that he has not abandoned them in their betrayal. My Lord Jesus Christ and yours looks at the Peter within Me and you and sees the heart of the matter: We say that we have laid down our lives to take up the life of Christ. The demonstration of our internal diseased state of heart is exposed by our actions under pressure, the betrayal, the denial of the Christ within by the reality of our lives. The lack of trust in the Lord through our taking the burdens of the world on ourselves and worrying and fretting about things that we can not change, things that he alone can alter. Do you think that the Lord was surprised that Peter betrays him: He knew before and he told Peter to expect it. It was Peter who had the shock of discovering what he actually was. In the same way it is not the Lord who has the revelation of what lies within my heart it is I that have the benefit of the realization.
The manifestation of the deceit is for our benefit. It allows us to see what the Lord knew all along. It allows us to come to Christ to repent. It allows us to move on from self-reliance to “Trust in God, Trust also in me.”
The same compassion that Peter experienced reaches out to me. Jesus says to me, “Here is the way, walk in it.” “Trust in God, trust also in me”
Thank you Lord that you know me better than I know myself. Thank you Lord for your enormous compassion in exposing my frailty before the cross. Thank you Lord for the mercy that you demonstrate day by day. Lord we can only praise you for the way that your word speaks to us fresh and new every morning like manna in the desert. You raise up the bronze serpent in the desert of our hearts, saying look on it!
You alone bring healing from the plague in the camp.