Gold is cleaned and purified during the process of refining, which filters out impurities from the raw gold. In the most common method of refining, gold is melted in an induction furnace; As it melts, chlorine gas is carefully and precisely added to the molten gold. This turns the by-products and base metals (such as silver and nickel) into solid chlorides.
The chlorides float to the top of the gold and are then skimmed off. They are called “slag”. Gold is usually put through this refining process at least two times, each time taking two to four hours and resulting in a purity factor of from 99.0% to as much as 99.5%.
This revelation is based on the 40 year sojourn of the Israelite’s in the wilderness recorded in Exodus 14 – Joshua 5. A period God used to refine, to sieve, to prepare a people for a new phase of life.
Gold ore found in its natural state is filled with impurities. The refiner uses a meticulous process to extract the high quality, high valuable gold. It is only after refining that gold can be used for beautification. God used this period to bring out a people He could call his own, tested and refined for the Promised Land, a place of rest (Ex 14:7) a good land, a place of favour and fruitfulness.
The Israelite’s lived in Egypt for 430 years, in that time their God-given cultures were forgotten, their God became a fable. Initially they were content as Joseph their patriarch provided them with a shield from the jealousy of the Egyptians, but Joseph died and a Pharaoh eventually arose who did not know Joseph (Exodus 1:8 ). The Egyptians became lords over the children of Israel and put them to task as labourer’s in building new cities. The oppression grew unbearable and the children of Israel sought deliverance.
Deliverance is never easy; it always comes at a price. The Israelite’s had been corrupted by the ways of the land they dwelled in, worshiping other gods and relegating the one true God to a character from a fable story told only at bedtime. To God, delivering them was the easy part as that would take just one word, just like one word was sufficient to create the heavens and the earth. The hard part was delivering them to what? What type of existence?. Would it be sufficient to redeem them from their current dilemma to a life of business as usual, or was it time to separate the gold from the slag? A refining process would be required, intense heat and pressure applied several times until all the impurities were removed, In God’s case He requires 100% purity. But why would it take 40 years to achieve the desired results?
It is another day and I really don’t want to open my eyes, how did the night pass so fast? I drag myself and have a quick wash; I cannot afford to be late. The penalty for being late these days could be as harsh as death!. Ever since that Moses came along with his magic rod, things have gotten tougher for us. As I quickly put on my robe, I wonder what ‘tricks’ Moses was planning today, couldn’t he just get the message that life was hard enough? Whose idea was this deliverance thing anyway?
The site was buzzing with excitement, the elders just sent word of a Passover that would occur tonight. The instructions are so specific and requires intense concentration to capture; unleavened bread, a Passover lamb, a bunch of hyssop, blood on the door frames, eat dressed up and don’t leave the house until morning. What did all that have to do with this back breaking work, I will have to wait till evening to get the full story.
Midnight finally comes, the doors are locked and the Passover instructions are followed carefully. Everyone is in a pensive mood not knowing what to expect. Then the screams and wailing started like a deafening chorus, it rang through the quiet night air. We all huddle together– what was Moses up to now?
Like a dream, by dawn we are on our way. Pharaoh had ordered every single Israelite to leave Egypt immediately. Those wailing’s from last night were sounds of grief, ALL the first born in Egypt had died, including Pharaoh’s. There is fear in the eyes of the Egyptian as they asked us to leave, they gave us anything we asked (gold, silver and clothing), I guess the fear of God is truly the beginning of wisdom. The children and livestock are gathered quickly and the Isrealites head out. To where? No one asks, the euphoria of being free was great and for once we are happy to just follow Moses, maybe he has a plan after all.
It doesn’t take long before the euphoria wears off. A cloud of dust is rising behind us and from its center we see the entire Pharaoh’s army and it does not look like an escort service. It appears we are trapped between the red sea and Pharaoh’s army. Like many others I am praying that this is part of the grand plan as I would rather be carrying heavy sacks of sand in the hot sweltering sun than to be used as target practice for the Egyptian army. As the chariots approach the panic in the camp increases and we gather around a surprisingly calm Moses, voices are already being raised, but then Moses speaks out in a firm and convincing voice ‘do not be afraid’ (Exodus 14:13-14). The crowd falls into silence as Moses raises his staff, (another trick? , I wonder). Then to my utter amazement there is a loud noise of a rushing wind and the red sea parts before my very eyes. THIS cannot be a trick, this is a miracle!. My mother grabs my hand as we hurriedly cross the dry path created at the bottom of the sea; I wished I could have stopped to pick some rocks or shells from the sea bed or to poke my hands through the wall of water piled high on both sides, but time doesn’t permit. We all manage to get over safely but to our horror we see the Egyptians on the sea bed path in hot chase.
Then the unimaginable happened.
As the last one of our brethren cross over, the sea begins to return to its place just as Moses lifted his staff again. The entire Egyptians army is drowned before our eyes by the returning sea. This man Moses cannot be an ordinary trickster like the adults say. There must be a divine hand in all of this.
I had come to the realization that the God in my bedtime stories was not fictional. What I failed to understand was how my parents and older relations found it so hard to believe and obey. It has been one long journey filled with complaints; we are hungry, we are tired, we are thirsty, we are bored! They resisted every plan of God to strengthen our faith, they have resisted growth. Even today as we gather to hear the report of the men sent to spy the land, I still hear murmurings in the crowd. I admire Caleb as he says ”we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” , I raise my hand to cheer but I am obviously in the minority as I look around and see people booing. Do I hear right, are there still people wanting to return to Egypt? (Numbers 13)
The Lord spoke then … “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs……..not one of them will ever see the land I promised to their forefathers”, it was clear – everyone twenty years and above when we left Egypt will not be entering the Promised Land. We had tested the Lord one time too many and the tables were now being turned – it was time for the Lord to test us for our worthiness of the Promised Land.
The tests have been hard, but meant to humble us and test the contents of our hearts (Deut 8:2-9). In the forty years that followed we learnt to follow Him without questions, to trust Him, to rely on Him for the provision of our daily bread (which we call manna), we haven’t needed to worry about ‘worldy‘ things; as God kept our clothes and shoes. Our feet did not swell. He protected us from the dangerous snakes and scorpions in the land, He brought water from the rock. In good health he kept us. We learnt to worship Him again, the memories of Egypt became dim as the older generation passed away one after the other. All that we know now is the Lord, our provider, our sustainer, our deliverer. It is Him alone we have learnt to look up to.
Today there was no manna, a confirmation that the weaning process was complete. Yesterday, when we set camp at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, we tasted the produce of the land – roasted grain and unleavened bread. For the first time in forty years, at the threshold of the Promised Land, the manna stopped. A sign that we are ready to move on.
Obedience is now second nature to us and when Joshua gives the instructions for overcoming Jericho we didn’t ask how or why. The instructions may sound weird to some but anyone who has traversed the wilderness with us these past forty years would know that when the Lord speaks, we obey and allow the Lord to do His work. Today’s instruction is straight forward, we shout, He conquers.
The forty years in the wilderness is over, God has turned babes into men of war. The spirit of doubt and unbelief has been sifted away and what remains is soft malleable gold that God can use for His purpose. The journey has been rough but the lesson learnt. TRUST AND OBEY.
The Refining thought
Life is full of tests; a test passed means progression to the next level, a test failed means a repeat and subsequent expulsion if minimum standards cannot be met. God has opened my eyes to understand the importance of passing His tests, many came out of Egypt but few went into the Promised Land. It is all about refining the few for greater works and I choose to be part of the few. Those who will inherit the Promised Land must have a mature spirit of obedience and trust (an outcome of a refining process) not an immature spirit of grumbling and rebellion.
Perhaps you have dwelt in the wilderness for a long time and ready to move on – Check your life for slags; these are represented by impatience (with God), dissatisfaction (in God), forgetfulness (of God) and reliance on earthly acquisitions and attainments. The choice remains ours today, to reject the correction and refining of the Lord and stay in the wilderness or, accept the perfecting refining process and experience supernatural progress in every area of our lives.