Refined by trials

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‘Lord, I praise you that you know the end from the beginning, and you are working everything out in the world and in my life so that great glory will be given to you.’

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Bible passage Isaiah 48:1–11

Isaiah 48

Stubborn Israel
 1 “Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob,
   you who are called by the name of Israel
   and come from the line of Judah,
you who take oaths in the name of the LORD
   and invoke the God of Israel—
   but not in truth or righteousness—
2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city
   and claim to rely on the God of Israel—
   the LORD Almighty is his name:
3 I foretold the former things long ago,
   my mouth announced them and I made them known;
   then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
4 For I knew how stubborn you were;
   your neck muscles were iron,
   your forehead was bronze.
5 Therefore I told you these things long ago;
   before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
   ‘My images brought them about;
   my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’
6 You have heard these things; look at them all.
   Will you not admit them?

   “From now on I will tell you of new things,
   of hidden things unknown to you.
7 They are created now, and not long ago;
   you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
   ‘Yes, I knew of them.’
8 You have neither heard nor understood;
   from of old your ears have not been open.
Well do I know how treacherous you are;
   you were called a rebel from birth.
9 For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
   for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
   so as not to destroy you completely.
10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
   I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
   How can I let myself be defamed?
   I will not yield my glory to another.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Tags: Glory, Idols, Oaths

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Tags: Glory, Idols, Oaths

Explore the Bible

God's messages
The God of Israel has a message for his people – for those who ‘claim to rely on the God of Israel’ (v 2). In the past he announced future events, then ‘suddenly’ he acted and they happened (v 3). Maybe you can think of something like this happening in your own life.

‘From now on’, God says, ‘I will tell you of new things … created now, and not long ago’ (vs 6,7). For God‘s people then these ‘new things’ referred to God’s deliverance of them from exile in Babylon, foreshadowing a greater deliverance from spiritual blindness and slavery.

Our reactions
As those who look back to the redemption won for us by the Messiah, and look forward to the total renewal of the universe, we rejoice that our God is always announcing and doing new things. The question is whether we will be stubborn and rebellious, like God’s people of old (vs 4,8), or allow the trials we experience to refine us (v 10; 1 Peter 1:6,7).

What God wants is that amidst life’s hassles we learn to focus always on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) – and on what he wants to do in and through us.


‘Lord, give me wisdom as to how to make Jesus even more famous by declaring to friends and neighbours the wonderful things he has done for me.’

Andrew Clark

Deeper Bible study

‘“God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.’ (1 Peter 5:5,6)

After Babylon’s downfall you might think that Israel would be rejoicing. Instead, she is subject to a blistering attack from God himself, who exposes her own, continuing sinfulness. Her election never guaranteed her privileges free from corresponding responsibilities. She may boast of her status (v 1) and that her people were ‘citizens of the holy city’ (v 2), but they failed to live as if they were and seemed not to understand their obligations to their covenant God.

Two themes contend with each other throughout this poem. In theme one, God exposes Israel’s sin in harsh terms (vs 3–8). The people were stubborn and stiff-necked, refusing to bend in submission to him. They were deaf to his voice and blind to his interventions, deliberately attributing the fulfilment of his prophetic words to their own idols. Though he’d made himself evident to them, they ignored him and refused to admit their errors. They were disloyal rebels.

In theme two, God reveals his own nature in remarkable ways. We encounter his timelessness, as he predicts the future, as he had done many times before (v 3). We encounter his sovereignty, since he brings that predicted future about. He’ll go on telling his people things in advance (v 6 – probably a reference to Cyrus and their return home) so they couldn’t possibly attribute them to other deities (vs 6,7). We encounter his patience (v 9, 2 Peter 3:8,9) and his commitment to them, since his own honour is intricately tied up with them. In the eyes of others, destroying them would leave his own reputation in tatters (vs 9–11). Underneath it all, the real issue was that of God’s own honour, something that we, like Israel, being so wrapped up in ourselves, tend perilously to underrate. Let’s mean it when we pray, ‘Hallowed be your name’ (Matthew 6:9).

Derek Tidball

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Proverbs 3,4

Psalm 89

Bronze and iron


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  • Prasanna R | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    Really contemporary teaching, very relavent. Thank God

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    "I have refined the furnace of suffering." (verse 10) Where there is suffering in the world, God's love-filled children are growing stronger in Him, day by day. God's desire is that we rely only on Him and to grow in holiness..... the joy of the Lord is our strength."Hallowed be Your name." Amen.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    v11 I will not yield my glory to another. ROGER mentioned several idols in the church the other day and no doubt we can pinpoint many others. The Israelites didn't know Jesus, he didn't live within their hearts. Jesus I am ashamed that I along with so many others have not lived the life you gave us. The life that saw the early church grow in healing and wholeness. The life that raised the dead, embraced the rejected and sought you out amongst the crowds. Thousands in this country have a personal relationship with you, yet you are hidden from our families, neighbours, villages, towns and cities. I pray a revelation within 'the church' to see the work of Satan in all his various disguises and a re-ignition of Holy Spirit power to release the fruit of your love for we know that when the true gospel is proclaimed people will be drawn to yourself for the name of Jesus which is above every name and it's in this name I pray, Amen.

  • Carol Stockman | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    Lord give me strength to trust you through these trials, especially as I await the results of the biopsy of suspicious cells on Friday. Give me your peace Lord.

  • Tim Berry | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    Praying for you CAROL. May the healing power of Jesus enfold you, and may there be a positive result to the biopsy. In the all powerful name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  • Barbara Sabin | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    Lord develop your fruit in me today : “Great and wonderful are Your works, Lord God Almighty!Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”… Amen

  • David Chipchase | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    Carol, continuing to pray for you.

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 09 August 2017

    It's a sad fact, but one which is true, that inevitably, a Christian is going to face trouble and trials in their lives. I feel that we do need to be ready to pray and sympathise with those who are going through the fire, as they let us know, the Lord is very close to them, providing all they need. Maybe it's the bottomless cruse of oil, the never ending barrel of flour! The amazing cure for our illness. God bless those now going through it!

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