24 Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah, I will get relief from my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.
There is something cool happening in these two verses. It seems like God is angry in verse 24, is going to punish and avenge himself on those who have done wrong. Now if we look at this verse all by itself, it seems like a typical Old Testament passage, where God is going to smite this and that, and that’s the end of it.
But in verse 25, we get a glimpse into what that vengence is actually like, that God will purge away dross and impurities, which is actually something beneficial and good! Now this is strange, very strange – what is God planning to do? Is he going to punish those who do wrong, or help them?
The answer is…he’s going to do both.
For us, we think that punishment (or bad stuff happening to us) is always, categorically bad. No good can come out of bad circumstances, it’s just God’s way of punishing us. But that is not why God punishes, and that is not the limit of what God wants to accomplish when he at times drops the hammer on us. He does so ultimately to do a better work in us, to do something that is difficult to do in any other way. You could rephrase it in this way: “I’m going to punish you!… So you can be even better off than you were before.”
This may seem like wishful thinking, or just me being really creative…but think of the cross. Out of a moment of brutality and torment and death, we get new and eternal life! Obviously, God is able to transform some bad situations into good blessings for us.
1. Have you ever felt like God was punishing you for something you did? Did any good come out of that tough time?
2. What is one situation where you think no good could ever come out of it?
3. What are the “dross” and “impurities” in your life, the sins that are really entrenched? What would it take for you to stop doing those things?