By Roy Burner - Minister of the Gospel
Furnace of affliction is an irregularity in one's life; oftentimes with life-threatening implications. It is a state of great stress and suffering; with little understanding as to why.
For the believer there is a promise in God's Word: Many are the afflictions of the righteous. But the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19). (Comment)
In the Book of Job we are told that he suffered tremendous lost in one day. Job's response: The Lord give and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).
Job was described a man who was perfect and upright, who feared God, and shunned evil (Job 1:1). Job did not know who or what caused all the misfortune to befall him; the furnace of affliction to overtake him, but stated: He (or God) knows the way that I take and when he has tried me, I will come forth as gold (John 23:10).
We are seeing record breaking disasters taking place that affects the livelihood of many, with tremendous loss, even the taking of lives. For some the furnace of affliction is in the loss of what it took years to accumulate; and as Job, losing all in a moment of time.
I had a friend who lost his home while setting in church on a Sunday morning. When we arrived there was nothing left. He stated: These are only material things and was thankful that his family was safe. That night he came to church and read a Scripture: For we know that if earthly tabernacle were destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Job knew that he would come out of his affliction pure as gold. He was brought under strict examination, by his friends, but doubted not that he would be acquitted. He knew that God seen the integrity of his heart, and able to stand the strictest scrutiny.
We are seeing many in the furnace of affliction being charged with accusations in an attempt to destroy. Character assassination is running full steam; often with little supportive documentation to towards the charges made.
It is unfortunate that many in the world today are losing an important ingredient commanded in God's Word: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:27-29). Neighbor is defined as one's fellowman.
The reason for one's furnace of affliction may not be readily known; as one goes into the midst of it, but in due time realize it was for gain rather than loss. Such happened in Queen Esther's time when the Jewish people were placed on the chopping block of extinction.
When asked to go before the king; on behalf of her people, she feared for her life; for if she went to the king; to stand in the gap for her people, without permission, she could die. She was told: Think not that you shall escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. Who knows whether you are come to the kingdom such a time as this (Esther 4:13-14)?
In placing her life on the line, her own furnace of affliction, she saved her people from total destruction. Throughout Biblical history there are others who have taken a stand; to offset what may have been, and it happened not.
Could the furnace of affliction not come on nations who have began to forsake God by allowing adoption of ungodly ways? Could it be possible that such are now suffering token judgments of God? Could it be that God's displeasure is being revealed; to awaken those who have redrawn from the ways of righteousness?
Could God's judgmental strokes not be given in an effort to awaken the need for repentance? Could such nations be in line for more than token judgments, or judgmental strokes, if continuation of ungodly ways persist?
So shall it be at the end of the world (or age): the angels shall come forth, and separate the wicked from among the just. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50).
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there rose a smoke out of the pit, and the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the reason of the smoke of the pit (Revelation 9:2). The furnace of affliction, in one's life, has no comparison to what is foretold about the future of the ungodly (Isaiah 5:14-15).
Scripture tells of a great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:21). If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear (1 Peter 4:18)?
A Bible commentary noted: No other period of history (past or present) of the world will there be such suffering and universal destruction as during the seven years called the Great Tribulation. These years will be filled with wrath (Ezekiel 7:19); judgment (Revelation 14:7), darkness (Joel 2:2), trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), desolation (Daniel 9:27), and sorrow.
During the Great Tribulation God will pour out His wrath on mankind and will judge all of creation, just before the peace of the Millennium (or thousand year) reign upon the earth is ushered in.
In their affliction they will seek me diligently (Hosea 5:15). During the furnace of affliction of the 9/11 incident; in which nearly 3,000 persons died, there was a renewal of commitment towards God. Later, there was a retraction of that commitment when the threat weaned. Scripture speaks of those who have no root in themselves, and endure but for a moment (Mark 4:17).
God is not looking for a halfhearted commitment, that will fade away, but an everlasting commitment such as Job. Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved (Matthew 24:12-13). Job went through a furnace of affliction, without knowing why, but his faith endured to the end, and was rewarded by receiving twice of all he had lost.
Moses could have received the riches of Egypt, through his adoption into Pharaoh's household, but chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).
In the same text we are told of those who confessed that they were but strangers and pilgrims on the earth. If they had been mindful of that country from where they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But they desired a better country, that is a heavenly (Hebrews 11:13-16).
It tells of others, in the furnace of affliction, who were stoned, were tempted, were slain with the sword, destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom this world was not worthy, who obtained a good report through faith (Hebrews 11:37-39).
We, as believers in Christ, need to make a commitment towards not being influenced by what this world offers, but rather a wholehearted commitment towards the Lord of our salvation (the Lord Jesus Christ).
When a furnace of affliction comes our way; it may be by the enemy of one's soul, Satan; or God to nourish one's faith to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). Paul instructed Timothy, and others, of the difficulties of the ministry; urging them to be strong, in contrast to some whose faith had become shipwrecked.
Paul instructed Timothy to war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:19). For Scripture reveals of some, who being ignorant of God's righteousness, were going about to establish their own righteousness, having not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).
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Product of the world are those who have become addicted to sin and wickedness through various means available.
A coming out! A day of reckoning; past offenses being revealed, with many being called to task for former abuses, with a new found freedom not formerly granted.
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold (or suppress) the truth in unrighteousness.