Exodus xxv. 31-40
The Crucible and the Hammer.
by H.M. Hooke
ONE of the first proofs that a person is really saved, and consciously set for God in the world, is his knowledge of the fact that God has left him down here to be for Himself. After we were converted, why did not God at once take us home to Heaven? One object was, that we might be a reproduction of Christ. Do I get up in the morning with the thought, "There is one thing that I am left here for, that God may see in me, Christ lived over again?"
If we are in a right condition of soul, we shall desire to be light-bearers; and if we are to be light-bearers, we must be put upon the wheel. You never saw a potter make a vessel without putting the clay on the wheel. If you are a vessel of honour, you must have been put on the wheel. I do not know your wheel, and you do not know mine; but we each know our own.
The candlestick was first of pure gold; for this, the crucible was needed. Secondly, of beaten work—beaten into the shape of a lampstand with the hammer. The crucible is some severe, short, sharp trial—it is separative. The object of the crucible is to make a vessel of pure gold. It does not add to or take from it. If a pound of pure gold be put into a red-hot furnace, it comes out two hours afterwards, a pound of pure gold; it loses nothing. It is put into the crucible, that what is not pure gold may be taken from it.
We are put into the crucible to separate us from the dross. The nearer we get to God, the more glad we shall be, to be nothing but what is suited to God and to Christ; to be separated personally, domestically, commercially, ecclesiastically, from everything that would dim the gold; from everything that hinders our growth, advancement, and testimony for God and for Christ in this world. The object of the crucible is to separate and purify.
The hammer, however, is slow, sure, and formative. We find it in the history of the saints in the Old and New Testaments, and in our own. When Abraham offered up Isaac, it was the crucible for him. Just before, we read, Abraham planted a grove; but after he offered Isaac, we never hear of the grove again. The taking away of Joseph from Jacob was the crucible for him, but it acted in a different manner; he needed the successive strokes of the hammer as well. The crucible did not do the work when Joseph went, because Benjamin was slipped into his place; all the rest of his life, Jacob had the successive strokes of the hammer, but who would have thought that his life would have had such a magnificent sunset! How splendidly he was formed by the successive strokes of the hammer!
The Lord did not command Moses to make a mould of a seven-branched candlestick, and to run the gold into it. No, it was to be hammered out of a solid block of pure gold; it was to be made of beaten work, and the character of the metal unmixed, pure gold—"beaten work," not moulded, "of pure gold."
Ah, beloved, we are not fit to be light-bearers for God if we shrink from the crucible and the hammer! If we really want to be light-bearers for Him, we shall welcome the crucible because it separates, and the hammer, because it forms. If we saw that, we should see how wonderfully all the trials and difficulties that come on us are sent by God. ln this day of trial, when there are difficulties around, when we dread the post coming lest it should bring bad news, when we do not know what sorrow may come next, how wonderful to be able to say, "As for God, His way is perfect."
We do not attain to this in a moment. After all the exercises and discipline God has passed you through, can you say, "As for God, His way is perfect"? I do not mean in a stoical way. I abhor stoicism from the depths of my heart. "Jesus wept." He was no stoic. Paul wept. I wish I could weep like Jesus and Paul. It would be a good thing if there were a few more tears shed in this hard day. Tenderness is what we want. Jesus set His face as a flint, yet was there ever such tenderness as His? It is not just stoically saying, "Oh, yes; as for God, His way is perfect!" that is human schooling. Can you really say, "As for God, His way is perfect"? People say they wish to be resigned and talk about dying and being resigned. ls that the highest condition of soul a saint of God can reach?
There are four stages:
1. Resignation. That is the lowest.
2. Acquiescence. That is not the highest, but it is one above the former.
3. Justification. Being able to justify God.
4. Adoration. Adoring Him for all His dealings.
That is the highest. One of the Latin Fathers wrote on the wall of his cell—
"I bow me to Thy will, my God,
And all Thy ways adore."
That was not resignation, acquiescence, or justification; it was adoration. Can you say, ''I know my Father is doing the best thing for me? He is doing the best for His own glory, and for my richest blessing. 'As for God, His way is perfect.' I may be crushed, bowed down, yet will I adore and worship Him."
Look at those poor men, with the blood clotted on their backs, in a damp, dirty, dingy prison cell, yet not a murmur, so above self that they can pray and then praise. "As for God, His way is perfect” (Ps. xviii. 30-32).
God says, "Now that you adore me for all my ways, I will come in for you." "It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." He puts my way in exact correspondence with His way, and he goes on until the poor weak fingers are so strong that they can break the bow of steel.
It is exceedingly precious to know that God has the metal in His own hand. We see people putting heavy strokes where they should be light, and light, where they should be heavy; few where there should be many, and many, where there should be few. We are in Divine hands, not in one another's. We are in the Father's hands. "The Father Himself loveth you." He knows how long to keep His bit of gold in the crucible, and when to put it under the hammer. God knows how to touch us so that we welcome the crucible and the hammer and adore God for both. "As for God, His way is perfect." That is God's way of making light-bearers.
"The Message" 1903