“Whose furnace is in Jerusalem”

Our chapter in Isaiah (31) ends with a declaration by “the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem”. But, ignoring the chapter break, note the very next words, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice”. Then looking on to verse 17, “… and the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness quietness and trust (margin, security) forever”.

We are aware of so many prophecies which indicate a final time of crisis when there is a God ordained “fire” and “furnace” immediately prior to the time when our Lord returns to reign in Jerusalem and justice and peace are established. But remember the question of Jesus, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). In looking earnestly at events in the world today that seem to indicate that this time is almost upon us, the words of James we read today remind us how the faith of many believers will be under severe test!

Recall the words last week in Hebrews, “For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (3:14; also verse 6). So James’ words today are very appropriate – and challenging! “Count it all joy my brothers (and sisters) when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete …” (1:2-4).

Then, having in mind the financial anxieties now in the world, we should think deeply about the words in verses 9-11, “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass … so also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits”. Next note verse 12 “Blessed is the man (and woman) who remains steadfast under trial, for when he (or she) has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him”.

Finally, we must add verse 21 “and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”. Let us all read and meditate and plant thoughts from God’s word in our minds every day.