Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016 - Zechariah (2)



The Book of the Twelve for Lent 2016

The Refiner’s Fire – Zechariah (2)

“This third I will put into the fire;
    I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
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.’”                                                                                                        (Zechariah 12:9)

          Here is the goal of God’s work as Zechariah presents it – to have a people, just a remnant (1/3 of the people according to this passage), who will claim him as their God and whom will call “my people.”

          Does this mean only such remnant will be saved? Not at all. Remember, God’s strategy since the Fall has been to have a people, just a fragment of all humanity, to be his subversive counter-revolutionary movement who will spread his blessings everywhere and to everyone. That’s what being his “chosen” people is all about – serving and being for the world!

          This remnant is God’s work, his refining work. Only he can do this in and for us and only he will do this work in and for us. He has prepared a “refiner’s fire” for them. What does this mean? In the ancient world such a process went something like this. Once a fire was built, a clump of alloyed materials with gold in it is put inside it. After a time, the surface impurities bubble up. The material is withdrawn, the impurities scraped off, and then reinserted in the fire stoked to a higher temperature. This process is repeated time and again until no further impurities remain, only the gold.

          This image of a refiner’s fire is certainly an apt one for how God takes and makes us into the people we were meant to be. The good news, the hope of Lent and the reality of Easter is that God himself undergoes this crucible for us and with us on the cross in Christ that we may become true gold in him. And then live into that new being as the people through whom God will bless the rest of the world.

          The song “Refiner’s Fire” puts this to music. Ponder all this as you listen and open your heart to what God wants to say to you.

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