He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. – Malachai 3:3
The Great Refiner
Do you know how precious metals used to be refined, ‘back in the day,’ as they say? In a process called ‘cupellation,’ a refiner would take the ugly lumps of minerals that were mined from the earth, grind them up, and put the resulting, even uglier mess of metal in a small, bone-ash container called a cupel. Then, he would put that cupel in a large furnace, and carefully blow over the molten metal, separating the precious metal from the less-desirable metals such as bismuth, lead, or zinc. After the process he’d be left with a greasy-looking substance called “litharge,” and a small, pure button of the precious metal at the bottom of the cupel. One thing of note about precious metals – they are reflective, and very much so. Probably one of the more effective ways of detecting the purity of the mineral left at the bottom of the equipment was to see how well it reflected the refiner’s image; if the worker could look into the material and see his own face, then it would be pretty safe to assume that all the lead was gone, that all the dead weight had been removed. Similarly, God uses our time on this earth to refine us, and it takes a lot of work, a lot of heat, and a whole lot of patience. There’s even a bit of a mess made in the process, and that’s OK.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. –
The following additional resources were used in researching this article:
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. (ESV)
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV)