“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” – (Zechariah 13:9 NLT)
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)
“Anvil – a heavy steel or iron block with a flat top, concave sides, and typically a pointed end, on which metal can be hammered and shaped.” – Online Dictionary
As I was praying with a group at my church, I had a mental picture of an Anvil. This was a time of intercessory prayer on behalf of our Church, and our community, which is an act of spiritual warfare. This type of persistent prayer pushes back spiritual darkness. I believe God communicates to us through mental pictures, and our thoughts at times to encourage us. I don’t think that every thought and picture that pops in my head is a message from God to the Church! But for me, it seems like a good picture of what many believers need to think about, especially in times of intense spiritual attack. God uses the testing of our faith to strengthen us and forge us into a useful vessel, or tool, in his hands to advance his Kingdom. Without trials and testing, we become weak and spirituality ineffective. All body builders know that growth comes from resistance. So, growing spiritually requires us resisting the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Fire is a metaphor that is used in various ways in the Bible. God uses the fire of his holiness to purge sin from our lives, by his Word and his Spirit. He also uses our stressful circumstances, and the devil’s attacks against us, to purify our hearts, and to make us battle ready. Our battles are not with people but with worldviews and ideologies that clash with the Kingdom of God. In the Old Testament God told Israel to drive out enemies from the land he gave them. Some wonder why He didn’t destroy all of Israel’s enemies for them. But, I believe God wanted his people to grow stronger by obeying his commands, and learning to fight for freedom, based on his covenant commitment to them.
As New Testament believers we still have enemies, but it has been revealed to us that they are actually spiritual in nature. We must be diligent to drive them (demonic strongholds) out of our own lives, as we seek to help others to obtain greater freedom also. The attacks never stop, but the goal for us is to become stronger, and yet even more dependent on God. In a sense we become a weapon forged by the Master’s hand, that he uses to drive out spiritual darkness.