THE JOY OF LIVING IN GOD’S FURNACE
Ezekiel 22:18-22 (NKJV)
18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from 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 men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you.
21 Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst.
22 As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’”
Israel is pictured as impure silver. They have allowed themselves to become mingled with the world, and, as a result, they are no longer pure, but have become worthless and weak. God is pictured as a refiner of metals. (Ill. The gold and silver refining process.)
God is determined to rid them of their impurities and to mold them into His image. Israel is facing the fierce judgment of Almighty God.
You and I also become alloyed, or mingled, with the impurities of the world.
When we do, we also lose our value and are weakened. However, unlike Israel, our sins have already been judged at Calvary and were forever forgiven at the very moment of salvation. If that’s the case, then why does it seem that so many of God’s children are in the furnace? With Israel, it was a matter of Divine judgment. With us, God is merely trying to see His image.
Now, it is no fun at all being down in the furnace of trouble and trial, but God’s furnace can prove to be a wellspring of joy.
Tonight, I want to preach for a while about “The Joy Of Living In God’s Furnace.”
I. THE PLACE OF THE FURNACE
A. Ill. The metal – impure and worthless until exposed to the extreme heat of the furnace and the breath of the refiner.
B. God’s furnace is a place where our impurities are burned away.
1. The impurity of sin can get you in the furnace – Rev. 3:19; Heb. 12:8
2. The weak alloy of casual service can also put you there – (Ill. Zealous – Tit. 2:14.)
3. The great love of the Father can place you there – 1 John 4:7-8
(Ill. His desire for each of us is that we bear His image. His furnace is calculated to burning off all the layers of dross and revealing the glory hidden within – Ill. Jesus and the transfiguration – Matt. 17; Ill. Our own transfiguration – Rom. 12:1-2.)
II. THE PAIN OF THE FURNACE
A. The furnace is a place of fire.
B. When God places us in the furnace, He is turning up the heat in our lives.
When this takes place, it is never pleasant. There is always something that is lost! (Ill. The pain of loss and of God burning out the junk in our lives – Ill. Joab 2 Sam. 14:28-32.) (Ill. God knows our heartstrings and the heating temperatures required.)
C. The furnace is always a place of pain – Just ask Job – Chp. 1-2. (Ill. Lost finances, family, fitness, and friends etc )
D. It hurts, but God always has as His purpose renewal and restoration. (Ill. Isa. 1:22-26) (Ill. He is always seeking your best interests in the refining fire – Rom. 8:28)
III. THE PRIVILEGE OF THE FURNACE
A. As hard as it may be to believe, the furnace is a place of privilege.
B. There are several reasons why this is true.
1. Only metals like gold, silver, iron etc that can be of good use and of value go into the furnace – Jer. 6:29-20
(Ill. The refiner won’t waste His time on metals that will never be profitable to him. You see, when God has you in the furnace, He is seeing something in you that He wants to bring out.) (Ill. The precious image of Jesus!)
2. The furnace reveals a side of the refiner that could not otherwise be known. (Ill. The patience and goodness of the refiner.)
(Ill. The 3 Hebrews in the fiery furnace; Daniel in the lion’s den; Noah in the flood; Israel in the wilderness; disciples in the storm; thief on the cross!)
3. In the ministry of the furnace, the refiner’s personal touch can be felt. (Ill. Breath!) (Ill. Paul – 2 Cor. 12:7-9)
4. The furnace reveals the impurities in our lives – Ill. When things are level and cool, often there are things that go unnoticed. The fire reveals these things!
5. The furnace is temporary, the benefits are eternal – 2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 8:18.
6. The furnace reveals our salvation – The lost are never tried in God’s furnace! It is a privilege for the saints alone! Hallelujah!
IV. THE PRIZE OF THE FURNACE
A. After the dross is removed, the refiner is able to see His image reflected in the metal. At this point, He can mold it into a valuable vessel of His own choosing.
B. When you and I are passing through the furnace, we must be aware that when we endure the process till the end, we will:
1. Reveal Him in our lives more clearly to a watching world – Matt. 5:13-16; John 14:9) (Our transformed lives will be a clear testimony.)
2. Be more valuable to His work – 2 Tim. 2:22; Pro. 25:4
3. Be moldable – (Ill. Jesus Christ set the example for us in the Garden – Luke 22:42.
C. The furnace is painful and hard, but for the dedicated believer, the prize is worth the price.
Are you in the furnace tonight? If so, just yield to the Father’s hand, allow Him to finish His work. Then, be a vessel of honor for His glory. When these things take place, you will know the joy of life in God’s furnace.