What would you be willing to endure if you knew the result would be a character like Christ’s?
By now, most people know the basics of the story that introduces the lesson this week. A refiner knows then Gold or Silver is pure when the face of the refiner is perfectly reflected back by the hot, liquid metal. The implication is that only through intense heat and refinement will the metal become all it should be, with all impurities burned away of skimmed from the top. Does this harmonize with Scripture? How does God restore His “image” in sinful people?
Human Nature: Perfect or Marred?
Genesis 1:26-28 speaks about God’s original creation of humanity, that we were created in God’s image, and we get further hints from Genesis 1-3 as a whole. The “imago dei” has been debated for centuries, but if we let the text of Genesis itself inform us, there are qualities that His image implies:
- A plurality – Male, Female, and procreated offspring together make demonstrate fully the image of God
- Creative – Just as God creates, so people create
- Dominion – Although often abused, people were given a sphere of responsibility and care—this earth and its life forms.
- Relational – God created people in order to have a relationship with them, and would love to see us respond to Him, and to love each other.
- Boundaried – There are limits to human freedom, even if the only law is not to eat of a certain tree. God has limits as well: He cannot sin, lie, or otherwise go where love forbids.
Are there other aspects of the image of God that you would add here? How closely were Adam and Eve to resemble the character, morals, ethics, and values of God?
How did sin affect these “God-like” attributes? To what degree is man marred or altered by sin, by Adam and Eve’s separation from God passed on? How does the Great Controversy play a role in understanding the fall of mankind?
Job’s Gold Analogy
The lesson directs us to Job’s fiery trial and His hope in Job 23:1-10. Read this passage (especially vss. 8-10) and then consider the following question:
How could Job, one of the most oppressed of humans in history, come to a place where He recognized that God was testing Him, and that His test would have a purifying aspect? What habits, beliefs, or experiences could prepare Him for such a mature response?
Daniel and Maturity
The lesson focuses on maturity and character this week to a large degree and notes the final generation of wicked and righteous in Daniel 12. But Daniel Himself is a remarkable example of faithfulness during trail. Skim through the narratives in Daniel. Look again at the rough places he and his friends were brought through, the tests of the Image and the law against prayer, consider their exile and re-education attempts, the test at the King’s table. Daniel’s own tests as a prophet—whether to give the whole message to King Nebuchadnezzar even though the news was bad, and messengers of bad news could be executed.
What preparation did Daniel go through to become a faithful prophet and representative of God? Not once was Daniel ever shown to sin, and thus becomes a type of Christ; yet his own trials led to God saying that Daniel would “rest and rise to receive his allotted inheritance.” To what degree did Daniel’s tests in Babylon purify him, and make his character like His Lord’s?
We didn’t really explore Jesus’ parables in Mathew 25, but you may want to go back and look at the 10 Virgins and the Sheep and the Goats. Those two parables answer the question about “readiness” for Christ’s return, an event of which nobody knows either day or hour. Thus readiness must be TODAY! How is God refining you?