Friday, May 31, 2013

The Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord

Most of the prophets studied in this quarterly were sent to prophecy against Judah and surrounding nations.  The words to Judah are as strong as, or stronger than, to the other nations.  Zephaniah’s message is no exception.  Zephaniah is speaking to the people of Judah and the nations surrounding them. What were the conditions in Judah at the time? It was an Idolatrous nation according to 2 Kings 21-25 and 2 Chron. 33-36.  How had the nation gotten to this point? After Hezekiah’s death, Manasseh became king and led the country so far into idolatry so that “they did more evil than the nations” they had displaced in Canaan. (2 Chron. 33:9) 

Who was the king when Zephaniah was prophet? Josiah. What was the king doing? He was attempting reform. What was his reformation like? He destroyed the high places, “did away with” the false priests, broke down Asherah poles, tore down the shrines of the male prostitutes which were in the temple, desecrated sites and shrines and he tried to get rid of everything else that was dedicated to false gods. The Bible says during his lifetime, the people “did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:33.) Was Josiah successful? Not really. How do we know? As soon as he was gone, the people returned to their false gods. What does this tell us about the state of their hearts even during the reformations of Josiah? They were heard-hearted…they conformed outwardly, but there was no real heart change.  With all this in mind, let’s take a look at Sunday’s lesson.

The First paragraph of Sunday’s lesson says: “The focal point of Zephaniah’s message is the “day of the Lord” (Zeph. 1:7).   The Teachers comment says that The phrase “The day of the Lord” occurs seven times in the book of Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:7, 8, 14 [twice], 18; 2:2, 3). What us the day if the Lord?  This day is a dreadful day, a day of God’s anger, and this day of judgment is near.  Let’s look at a couple of texts that mention the day of the Lord that will to confirm this.  Let us start with Isaiah 2: 6.  (Actaully, verses 6 through 22 gives us the entire picture.)  Verse 6 says that in that day, “You, Lord, have abandoned your people, the descendants of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and embrace pagan customs” Isaiah 2:6.

 What is the day of the Lord like in this passage?  What action is God taking? God has abandoned His people because they turned to other gods, silver, gold, idols made by men. Ultimately, the day of the Lord is a day when many will be lead to only exalt the Lord, and their idols will totally disappear. Those described in this passage who flee from God are those who bowed down to their idols.  Let us look at another verse,

Ezekiel 7:19-22
They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be treated as a thing unclean. Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. It will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs, for it has caused them to stumble into sin. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will enter it and desecrate it.

What is the day of the Lord like in this passage?  What action is God taking? Note verse 22, “I will turn my face away from them,” which is how all the doom comes upon them. In the next chapter, God says, “do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary?” And what had they done? They had set up idols in God’s temple. 
There are many other verses, but we get the idea that it is about the Lord no longer restraining the winds of strife.  It is the execution of Judgment.  But, it cannot be seen only as punishment.  It is the day when nothing can be done about the disease (Sin).  The people have refused the cure and they have left the hospital, and nothing can be done to save them.  Only a few which, although in bad condition can, under the right conditions, still survive a little longer.  They stayed in the Hospital.  These are called the remnant.  Zephaniah speaks of them in Zephaniah 2: 1 -3,

Zep 2:1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
Zep 2:2 Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD's anger come upon you.
Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.

Here the remnant are the call the meek or humble.  The possibility of survival for the humble who are faithful is expressed through the word perhaps. It means that survival depends solely on divine grace.  Ellen White elaborates on this,

“Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on the merits of the Saviour. By prayer, by the study of His word, by faith in His abiding presence, the weakest of human beings may live in contact with the living Christ, and He will hold them by a hand that will never let go.”—Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 182.

Question: Does this quote give us any insight into what being sheltered by God really means? Does this “sheltering” happen from or IN our circumstances? God’s people throughout earth’s history have been persecuted, abused, and misused…yet they were “sheltered” in God.  Daniel and his friends were taken captive, yet they remained faithful, hidden or sheltered in God.

These are the ones of which God says,

“ ‘The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing’ ” (Zeph. 3:17, NIV).

Although strange to many this concept of the Lord rejoicing is not isolated to Zephaniah.  We read in Isaiah,

Isa 62:5 For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Isa 65:19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.

This is also seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, where the father is so joyful to receive his son back, that he orders a feast and for all to celebrate.  Notice, that the son returns because he repents.  He realizes his father’s goodness, compassion and mercy, “Even the servants in my father’s house are treated better” (Luke 15: 17).  So, the prodigal son trusted his father.  God rejoices over the prodigals who return, who are healed. He eagerly waits for them to realize their pitiful state and return to Him.  Jesus states the reason why God rejoices: “ ‘I tell you that in the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7, NIV).  Our God is very personable.

The eldest brother refuses to celebrate because he does not think the younger brother is worthy.    But, the eldest brother thinks he is worthy, “… Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:29).  Notice he used the word, “serve.”  As if, like a servant he worked for hire and always did what was asked of him.  This son acted like a hireling.  This implied he saw his father as an employer; an unjust and uncaring master.  What a misconception of his father.  This one did not trust his father.  He acted like the one servant in the in the parable of the talents that received the one talent and returned it without investing it because, “…For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow” (Luke 19:21).  What a misconception of his master.  Needless to say this one did not trust his master.  Do you think Daniel and his friends trusted God?  If they did not they would not hide themselves in Christ.  The heavenly messengers refer to Daniel as greatly beloved, twice.  Is this not a sign that God was pleased, and probably rejoicing over Daniel?  I think so.

This has implications for us.  What view do we have of God?  Do we trust Him?  If this is what we believe we will walk humbly before Him, we will be hid in Him.  We will turn to Him.  If this is not the case, then I enjoin you to give Him a chance. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalms 34:8).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Commentary: Finding Comfort in a Promise

Finding Comfort in a Promise

Miriam has been dating Rupert for quite a while.  She would like to marry him, but she is not sure he wants to marry her.  Miriam starts to get anxious about it; enough that others notice a change in her conduct – especially Rupert.  She looks as if she is carrying a burden.

Rupert wants to marry her.  But, he thinks he is not quite ready to make the commitment.  Rupert, however, wisely senses that her anxiety may be related to his delaying in proposing.  He seeks advice and everyone says he should not waste more time.  Miriam's anxiety grows – she looks like the burden is heavier - and Rupert is afraid that asking her in the stage she is in might back fire.  But, everyone says " do not worry; it will work out."

Rupert plans a proposal event.  Miriam seems to suspect something which adds to her anxiety.  This makes Rupert more nervous, but he decides to go as planned.  At hearing the proposal, Miriam suddenly gets quiet, looks at Rupert right in his eyes.  Rupert thinks, "I messed up."  But, all of a sudden Miriam's semblance was transformed.  She yells out, "Yes, yes, I will marry you."  Then she embraces Rupert. 

When Rupert saw her face again, her semblance had changed.  She looked as if the burden disappeared.  Her face was radiant, her eyes twinkling.  The proposal – a promise to get married – was enough for Miriam to feel better, to have a hopeful outlook of the future. 

In a sense Habakkuk was in a similar position as Miriam.  He saw the spiritual condition of the Kingdom.  This was reflected in, among other things: the immorality, the abuse and, and the violence of his fellow countrymen toward other countrymen.  He wondered, "Will God do something about it?"  So, Habakkuk cried out to God, essentially asking God, "Do you not see what is going on?  How long will you allow this to continue? Are you not the all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful God?  Will you do something about it?"  God in essence answered, "I do see what is going on.  And, I am not pleased.  But, I am not uninvolved.  I am doing something, but the fruit will not be seen for years to come.  I will put a stop to this; but, in my own time and in my own way."

God's answer to Habakkuk was a promise, which Habakkuk may not see fulfilled.  But, somehow the promise is to comfort Habakkuk, as the promise of marriage comforts a young bride.   To know that God has a plan and He is executing it should suffice, just as it is sufficient for a bride – at least for a time – that her fiancĂ© has a plan and is executing it.  To be satisfied with a promise requires faith. And, in fact, Habakkuk was told that the just lives by his faith (Habakkuk  2: 4).   The just would be those who like Habakkuk were crying out to God as they lived surrounded by unrighteousness. 

Faith is defined as trusting that the word will do that which it said it would and waiting for the word to do it.  (Rupert made a promise to Miriam, she had to trust that Rupert would fulfill it and wait for Rupert to do it.)  Habakkuk was to trust that God would fulfill His promise and was to wait for God to do it.  This implied that Habakkuk should not do something himself, outside of what God instructed.  Faith is also defined as a response of heartfelt appreciation for what God's work.  (Miriam was grateful.) Habakkuk was being asked to be grateful that God had answered his prayer and would one day do a work which "you would not believe, though it be told you" (Habakkuk 1: 5).  This means that Habakkuk was to be certain that what he hoped for would happen and what he did not see would be revealed (Hebrews 11: 1).  To Habakkuk God's promise is evidence that what is not seen – that God does see what is going on, He cares, and is involved in a solution to the problem.  Like Abraham, Habakkuk believed what he heard from God and it counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15: 6).  The following quote gives us a deeper understanding, 

 "There is an answer to Habakkuk's question. It is an answer, not in terms of thought, but in terms of events. God's answer will happen, but it cannot be spelled out in words. The answer will surely come; 'if it seem[s] slow, wait for it.' True, the interim is hard to bear; the righteous one is horrified by what he sees. To this the great answer is given: 'The righteous shall live by his faith.' It is an answer, again not in terms of thought, but in terms of existence. Prophetic faith is trust in Him, in Whose presence stillness is a form of understanding."—Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, p. 143.

The judgment the Lord promised was dreadful.  But Habakkuk trusted the Lord.  Ellen White says,

Confident that even in this terrible judgment the purpose of God for His people would in some way be fulfilled, Habakkuk bowed in submission to the revealed will of Jehovah. "Art Thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One?" he exclaimed. And then, his faith reaching out beyond the forbidding prospect of the immediate future, and laying fast hold on the precious promises that reveal God's love for His trusting children, the prophet added, "We shall not die." (Habakkuk 1: 12). With this declaration of faith he rested his case, and that of every believing Israelite, in the hands of a compassionate God.  Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 386-389

Habakkuk is to be an example to us.  God is still at work in our life even if we do not see it.  We read from Ellen White,

The faith that strengthened Habakkuk and all the holy and the just in those days of deep trial was the same faith that sustains God's people today. In the darkest hours, under circumstances the most forbidding, the Christian believer may keep his soul stayed upon the source of all light and power. Day by day, through faith in God, his hope and courage may be renewed. "The just shall live by his faith... We must cherish and cultivate the faith of which prophets and apostles have testified—the faith that lays hold on the promises of God and waits for deliverance in His appointed time and way. The sure word of prophecy will meet its final fulfillment in the glorious advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords. The time of waiting may seem long, the soul may be oppressed by discouraging circumstances, many in whom confidence has been placed may fall by the way; but with the prophet who endeavored to encourage Judah in a time of unparalleled apostasy, let … us ever hold in remembrance the cheering message, "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.... The just shall live by his faith." Hebrews 2: 3, 4.  Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 386-389

Since, "Faith comes through hearing and hearing by the word", then it is the Word of God that sustains those who listen and hearken until the end.  

Raul Diaz

Friday, May 17, 2013



Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences; in other words, the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses).   It is also the part of grammar dealing with this and the set of rules for or an analysis of this. It comes from the greek word: suntaxis – a compound word.  The word Suntaxis is formed from sun- 'together' + tassein 'arrange' (To arrange together).  There is a system.

Each language has its own rules for syntax; which means that each language will order the words differently.  Thus, in English, the noun goes before the adjective, and In Spanish the adjective goes before the noun.  The adjective modifies or describes the noun.  For example, the red book is in Spanish "el libro rojo" (The book red).  Distilled water is agua destilada(water distilled).  This is also noticeable in the name of a device such as the remote control.  Remote is the adjective and control the noun.  With this device you can control another device from a distance or remotely.  In Spanish, the word is control remoto.  Same meaning but the noun and adjective are switched. 

Now different languages also arrange concepts differently.  In the English language we tend to explain things starting with the cause through the effect.  In the Hebrew language they may do it differently.   Let us take for example Micah 6:8 to explain this.  Let us read it first,

Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

This is the verse par excellence for biblical ethics and describes the true Christian lifestyle. In order to better understand what God is saying through Micah, we need to become acquainted with one crucial feature of biblical Hebrew thinking. When biblical authors want to explain a sequence of different actions, they describe them usually from the effect to the cause. This principle works from the visible to the invisible, from the superficial to the real, from the outside to the inside. We think and speak differently today; we explain things from cause to effect.

This means that to understand what Micah is really saying, to catch his message, we need to reverse his sequence of thoughts. We need to begin to study this verse, starting from the end. Thus, the proper sequence for us today is:

First, "Walk humbly with the Lord!" This is the cause of all other actions described.

Second, "Love mercy!" This is the first result.

Finally, "Act justly!" This is the additional consequence.

This means that the carnal man is incapable of doing this on his own.  He will either be love merciful or act justly, not both.  In turn, those who walked humbly before the Lord will both do justly and love mercy.  There is no need to find a balance: for God's mercy is just, and His justice is merciful.  If you only have one of them you are not walking humbly before the Lord.  Ellen White says,

The laws of the nations bear marks of the infirmities and passions of the unrenewed heart; but God's laws bear the stamp of the divine, and if they are obeyed, they will lead to a tender regard for the rights and privileges of others. . . . His watchful care is over all the interests of His children, and He declares He will undertake the cause of the afflicted and the oppressed. If they cry unto Him, He says, "I will hear; for I am gracious."

A man of means, if he possesses strict integrity, and loves and fears God, may be a benefactor to the poor. He can help them, and take no more interest [on the money he lends] than can be mercifully exacted. He thus meets with no loss himself, and his unfortunate neighbor is greatly benefited, for he is saved from the hands of the dishonest schemer. The principles of the golden rule are not to be lost sight of for a moment in any business transaction. . . . God never designed that one person should prey upon another. He jealously guards the rights of His children, and in the books of Heaven great loss is set down on the side of the unjust dealer. {BLJ 170.3}

And, let us not forget that "…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

Raul Diaz

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Man That Came From God

The Man That Came From God             

In 1958, a small town Pennsylvania church pastor – David Wilkerson - was emotionally moved as he read a copy of LIFE magazine that featured details of the upcoming trial of 7 teenaged members from the Coney Island (New York) based 'Egyptian Dragons' street gang. The 7 boys had brutally attacked and murdered an innocent 15 year old polio victim named Michael Farmer in Highbridge Park, leading to one of the most publicized gang murder trials of 1950's New York.   He later wrote that as he felt the Holy Spirit move him with compassion, he was drawn to go to New York in February 1958 in order to preach to them.  After being unable to secure visitation rights to visit the 'Dragon' gang members in jail, Wilkerson was detained while attempting to rush past security and police to gain an audience with the judge on the case. The press photographed the skinny preacher being physically detained by court officers, and by the next day the picture would make the front page of more than one New York daily.

After this much publicized incident the young Pastor thought he had blown away his chances.  But, the Lord had other plans.  When Pastor Wilkerson returns to New York his face is recognized everywhere.  God used this unusual circumstance to open the doors.  As a result of this incident Pastor David Wilkerson became accepted by New York's toughest and most blood thirsty street gangs as the preacher who was arrested for trying to help other gang members.  You could argue that he was accepted as the man God sent to help them. 

Jonah is also called by God to go to Nineveh.  We know the story.  He tried to escape.  But, God, in His providence, ordained circumstances to get Jonah back on track.  We know that a big fish swallowed Jonah and took Jonah to the shores of Nineveh, where the fish regurgitated Jonah out into dry land (Jonah 2: 10).  Any preacher would say, "Who would listen to a man that has spent three days in the stomach of a big fish."  Imagine how Jonah looked.  Seaweed all around him.  He was probably pail and discolored from exposure to the acid in the fish's stomach.  He probably smelled like fish.  We will read Ellen White's narration of the events:

Once more the servant of God was entrusted with the commission to warn Nineveh. "The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." This time he did not stop to question or doubt, but obeyed unhesitatingly. He "arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." Jonah 3:1-3.

As Jonah entered the great city, he began at once to "cry against" it as he had been bidden. Lifting up his voice in warning, he declared, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." From street to street he went, all the while sounding this terrible note of warning. 

 God's message was not given in vain. The warning rang through the streets of the godless city, and was passed from lip to lip, until all the inhabitants had heard the startling pronouncement. The Spirit of God pressed the message home to the heart, and caused multitudes to tremble because of their sins, and to repent in great humiliation.

     "The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" Jonah 3:5-9. 

     As kings and nobles, with the common people, the high and the low, "repented at the preaching of Jonas" (Matthew 12:41), and united in crying to the God of heaven, his mercy was granted them. He "saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." Their doom was averted, the God of Israel was exalted and honored throughout the heathen world, and his law was revered."

God used the beliefs of the Ninevites to reach them.  One of the gods worshiped by Nineveh was the fish god Dagon. When Jonah was disgorged on the coast of Phoenicia in the sight of the local fisherman on the shore it must have been a most startling sight. These fisherman would convey what they saw to the people of Nineveh. No wonder Nineveh responded as it did, here was a messenger who was seen coming out of the mouth of a fish, one of their false gods. Here was instant validity.


What is the lesson? The lesson is that God is in control and His plans cannot be thwarted. Jonah was to preach to Gentiles and his first converts appeared to be the sailors on the boat he was on to flee from speaking to Gentiles. God provided a fish to capture him and place him on the shore in the presence of people who worshipped a fish.


Isaiah quotes God saying,


Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.


God's methods are different than ours; and more effective.  Ellen White says,


Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.--Testimonies to Ministers, p. 300.


   Will we let Christ take the reins or will we not let go?

Raul Diaz

Friday, May 03, 2013

Commentary: Gold Refined in the Fire

Gold Refined in the Fire

There are a few different methods of refining gold. Depending upon the quantity of gold you are working with and the desired level of purity, the two most common methods for refining gold are the use of high temperature flame and the use of chemicals (very strong acids) to refine the gold.

Refining with flame is one of the oldest methods of refining metals. Mentioned even in the bible, refining by fire is the preferable method for larger quantities of gold. The tradition remains largely untouched today with the exception of a few advancements in safety and precision.  In ancient times, this form of refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with flames reaching temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius (1832° F); this job was definitely a dangerous occupation for the gold refiner.  As said above, the refiner sat next to the hot with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities or dross that rose to the top of the molten metal. Once the dross was removed what remained in the crucible was the pure gold. 

Some commenters on this week's study made an association with Amos vision of the fire and God being as consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).  We will recall that in the second vision, "God was calling up a firestorm" (Amos 7:4).  Love as agape is not a namby-pamby, mushy sentimentalism. The same God who is agape is also "a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). It is this same God that says, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir" (Isaiah 13:12).  The point is that there is a parallel between making gold pure and making man as pure as gold.  God uses trails and affliction as the fire to purify us.

We see that the burning bush in which was the Lord's presence did not consume away. The fire did not extinguish a fiber of the branches.  However, to sin, wherever found, God is a consuming fire. If you choose sin, and refuse to separate from it, the presence of God, which consumes sin, must consume you (MB 62).  But, that is not the case when Christ dwells in you who receive Him by faith.  Although trials may come upon the soul, yet the Lord's presence will be with us. 

The gold shines brighter because of the process of purification. Thus will it be with the feeble human agent who puts his trust in Christ. He will make a man precious by abiding with Him, by giving unto him the Holy Spirit (YRP 131).  The furnace fire of temptation may burn, persecution and trial may come, but only the dross will be consumed.  The impurities of the sinful character are consumed; only God's character, now indwelling in our souls, remains.    

The Lord Jesus presents Himself to the church as that fire of Divine-agape, which consumes away selfishness and sin.  That fire produces death to selfishness, sensuality, love of the world, pride and arrogance. It is death to lukewarmness as well.  That fire is the message of the uplifted cross.  It is God's clearest message from the sanctuary of His love for sinners.  As the Sin-bearer, Christ was subject to the lightning bolts of wrath for the universal law demands death to the sinner.  Jesus experienced "the wages" of the second death for sin on the cross. He went all the way to hell for you and me. Ellen White elaborates further on this,

"Greater is He that is in the heart of the faithful, than he that controls the hearts of unbelievers. Complain not bitterly of the trial which comes upon you, but let your eyes be directed to Christ, who has clothed His divinity with humanity, in order that we may understand how great His interest in us since He has identified Himself with suffering humanity. He tasted the cup of human sorrow, He was afflicted in all our afflictions, He was made perfect through suffering, tempted in all points like as humanity is tempted, in order that He might succor those who are in temptation" (YRP 131).

It is this message of the cross, which the Holy Spirit uses to induce us to repentance for sin that we might receive the atonement and come into heart-union with God. Hence, there are those who "were like half-burned firebrands snatched away from the fire [the Judgment]" (Amos 4:11). To all others who reject the message of the cross it becomes an all-consuming fire of self-destruction.  The gold cannot jump out of the crucible, but a living sacrifice can.  Let us then choose to remain in the fire, so we can shine as bright as pure gold.  

Raul Diaz