REFINED IN HOLY FIRE
"Who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner's fire...”
Born an infant innocent and helpless, Jesus descended from Heaven and entered our simple world without
any fanfare or circumstance. He required nothing other than the nurturing of loving parents. In the skies
above a stable in a small rural settlement called Bethlehem, a hamlet by definition, hosts of angelic beings
sang in proclamation and exaltation as the Lamb of God arrived on our lowly planet. The civilized world,
Jerusalem and beyond, as well as King Herod himself, quickly became aware of this awesome intrusion
into our space.
News of the unprecedented event, distinctly humble and yet of great magnitude, stirred people near and far
and a seed of hope took its place in hearts and minds. Foreshadowing of things possible, things until then
considered unobtainable, took root throughout the land.
But the many, not the few, who had professed to stand in hopeful anticipation of the arrival of the
Redeemer of humankind, failed the test. They had declared their allegiances, publicly displayed their piety,
and announced what they believed to be their privileged positions in the hierarchy of God’s preferred
client list. Yet their false self-righteousness and unbelief would soon be exposed for all to see.
They harassed and lied and tortured the very One who was their only hope of a future existence.
And they took the majority of humankind down the path to Hell with them.
By comparison Jesus’ life on Earth was as a single grain of sand on a shoreline where the grains number
in the billions in an arm’s length. In that brief interlude of His earthly life He crushed the self-appointed
religious power structure and desecrated the misleading norms. Only a remnant survived the test,
the very ones who the Great Shepherd came to save. The others crumbled into oblivion, reverting to the
dust from which they hailed.
If the world was turned upside down by God incarnate in just one moment in time, by way of a humble and
meek appearance no less, what will happen when the Son of God comes a second time in power and might?
Who will be able to withstand the great judgment of Jesus when He descends triumphantly with an army of
billions mounted on thundering horses and with swords aflame? By His very breath the wicked shall be slain,
destroyed forever, cast into an unfathomable bottomless pit.
“When Jesus said to a group of soldiers, I am He, they stepped backward and fell to the ground.”
(John 18:6) If the strong-arms couldn’t withstand a simple declaration of identity, what chance will the
ordinary sinner have when standing before the Great I Am? Scripture ascribes the word “terrible” to God.
How about horrible, dreadful, horrendous, and frightening?
When Jesus gave up the Ghost on the cross at Calvary the whole earth experienced an earthquake.
The heavens turned blacker than the blackest starless night. It was horrifying and magnificent at the same
time. Terrible and wonderful. Hints of the sure swift hand of God were displayed for all to experience right
then and there. But the day will soon come when all will know that that event was just a prelude to the
great rapture, the day of glory when the redeemed of God will transcend every limitation their
mortal bodies held them to.
Like an unstoppable wind, like a mighty tsunami, the dreadful splendor of our conquering Savior and all
the forces of Heaven shall appear in mid air to summon the overcomers, the ones true to their Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ in spite every attempt by the evil one to dissuade and derail them. He humbled himself
as a lamb to be slaughtered, yet He was the lion of Judah. In that day He shall quench the thirst of every
believer and shatter His enemies like brittle pottery broken into shards. None, however strong,
will withstand His judgment. There will be nowhere to hide from his vision, no escape from
the hailstones of His righteous fury, no relief from His outrage.
But alas, those who in humility have known Him as their Lord and Savior, those whom He washed whiter than
snow in His very own blood, they will look with gleeful anticipation upon the One who died in their place.
They will have no fear, no anxiety, no soiled conscience, for He has redeemed and refined them in holy fire.
They have been tried and tested and will be pure, glistening as jewels in the crown of Him
Who is and was and will always be.