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The Mystery of the Refining Fire

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Hi everyone, in this weeks short note I want to share with you a little gem from the Hebrew language that I learnt a few years ago. To me it not only holds a great lesson on how we are to relate and unite with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ… but also how the Lord, our husband, will prepare us, His Bride, for our union with Him, so that His name will be glorified.

In Hebrew, the word for man, or husband is אִישׁ ‘iyš. Whilst the word for woman or wife is אִשָׁה ‘išāh.

Both these Hebrew words are built on the word אֵשׁ ‘ēš, which in Hebrew means fire, and when you combine the one letter that differs in each word, you have God’s name, יה yh.

This shows us that when a husband and wife, or a man and a woman, take God out of their relationship, all they will end up with is fire. Yet when God is central to their union the fire becomes a positive force, one that will refine them so that the glory of God is revealed through them.

By taking a deeper look at the words אִישׁ and אִשָׁה we can find evidence of this refining action.

The word אִישׁ, or man, illustrates someone who has his hand, as pictured by the letter yood (י), in the fire. We can compare this to a man who smelts and refines metals – like gold. He works in the fire, heating the ore to eliminate all the impurities, so that what he is left with is pure gold. 

And this pure gold, that comes out of the fire, is the woman or the wife. Because אִשָׁה literally illustrates ‘what comes out of’ as pictured by the letter hey (ה), the fire.

This action of refining between a man and a woman reveals the mystery of a perfect union, one in which God’s name is glorified.

We can take this concept and apply it on another level within the scriptures. Namely, the relationship between the Bride, who is the nation of Israel, and her Husband who is identified in the book of Isaiah;

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name… 

Isaiah 54:5

It is the Lord who refines His Bride, His people Israel, in preparation for their ultimate union. In Isaiah 48:10 we see how the Lord accomplishes this refining process;

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Isaiah 48:10

We see a biblical example of this refining process in the life of Job when he said;

He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

Job 23:10

By trials and testings, the Lord is refining His people… although we may not always see it as such, these trials and testings are an expression of His love, it is how He removes all the dross so that we, as Israel, may come forth as pure gold, a metal which in the Scripture represents Divine Nature. This is how the Lord prepares us for a union in which His name is glorified.

Psalms 45 describes this transformation of the Bride beautifully as she prepares herself to leave her chamber and go to her husband and King.

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many coloured robes she is led to the King, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the King.

Psalm 43:13-15