“Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people. They are the worst kind of rebel, full of slander. They are as hard as bronze and iron, and they lead others into corruption. The bellows fiercely fan the flames to burn out the corruption. But it does not purify them, for the wickedness remains. I will label them ‘Rejected Silver,’ for I, the Lord, am discarding them.” Jeremiah 6:27-30
God sent Jeremiah to assess the spiritual condition of God’s people and to do it from a position of strength. Figuratively, the work of the prophet was like metal working – one who tested and refined precious metals. The picture used at the end of Jeremiah 6 works something like this: · Judah was like the metal, claiming to be precious (such as gold or silver). Like a precious metal, Judah was tested and refined with fire. Lead was put in to act as flux, to draw the impurities to itself. The Prophet Jeremiah was like the bellows, used to create an intense heat. Yet Israel – the supposed precious metal – was so hard and impure that the refining work was useless. They are bronze and iron, they are all corrupters. The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed: The fire was as hot as the bellows could make it and the refining agent (lead) was consumed – yet the supposedly precious metal was not refined. The smelter refines in vain, for the wicked are not drawn off: Despite the best efforts of the smelter – God’s prophets such as Jeremiah – the wicked among God’s people did not repent and thereby be drawn off in the sense of making a purer people of God. Jeremiah felt that his task was similar to that of a silver-refiner (Malachi 3:3), but it is now clear that his prophetic ‘fire’ has been unable to remove the impurities from the natural ‘silver’.”
The normal processes had been completely inefficacious; the dross still remained, contaminating the whole mass of metal. It was, therefore fit only for the scrap-heap. People will call them rejected silver, because the Lord has rejected them: At the end of it all, everyone knew that Judah was disapproved by God and in the sense of sparing them from judgment, the Lord has rejected them.