There’s a lot of talk today about the national and world financial situations and the very uncertain value of the dollar. Will it survive, will we experience hyperinflation, or will we see a total collapse of our money system?
Why? Because the U.S. government is going bonkers with spending and leaders think they can ignore history. Our national debt is currently $28.3 trillion and the latest bill (Infrastructure? Sure. Read “economic pig trough”) is being fought over by two sides that are content with a $1.4 and $5.4 trillion price tag.
And that’s on top of the multi-trillion-dollar 2020 COVID relief bills ($2.2 trillion, $484 billion, and $900 billion) that authorized over 3.6 trillion bucks to help the country survive during a self-imposed economic beat-down.
Yeah. Some people are really worried about the fiat (read “fake”) dollar that stands for something but is backed by nothing. “The term ‘fiat’ is derived from the Latin fieri, meaning an arbitrary act or decree. In keeping with this etymology, the value of fiat currencies is ultimately based on the fact that they are defined as legal tender by way of government decree.” (Source)
As long as the dollar’s decreed value is linked to gold, which has real value, the dollar is a good substitute for carrying around some very heavy change. The downside? Take the dollar off the gold standard and the dollar fluctuates in value. It could even lose all value. The fiat currency system works only as long as people have faith in the currency’s declared value. Lose faith in the dollar as money and it all comes tumbling down.
Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. (Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh.)
So right now, many people are awash with economic concerns and fears. To bring security, many smarty-pants people are frantically buying gold, silver, and other precious metals. Why? Because a nation can print paper money to “create” more money, but it can’t print gold to get more gold.
Because of its limited amount in the world, gold is a stable, reliable keeper of value, a preserver of wealth. And in times of economic trouble, people flee to what’s stable. Therefore, when the economy looks shaky, ads for gold and other precious metals erupt from every conceivable media outlet. But is gold the most valuable thing we Christians should pursue, even in tough economic times?
No. Our faith in Jesus is of much greater value. Mull this over.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Why is our faith, our trust in Jesus, greater than gold? Because gold can be destroyed by fire. Our faith is refined by fire!
Let’s have some fun. Let’s take a look at gold itself in this blog post. In the next blog post, I’ll make some comparisons and contrasts that will help us understand how truly valuable our faith in Jesus is.
First, gold is rare. It’s a unique substance that makes up only five-ten millionths of a percent of the Earth's outer layer. To put that in simpler terms of an equally valuable thing, imagine 2 million Skittles® on a very big table and only 1 of them was made of gold! Yeah. A rare Skittle.
Because gold is rare, that makes it very valuable. Gold is so desired, that alchemists in the Middle Ages repeatedly tried to take a similar substance, lead, and convert it by human means into gold. It never worked! And it would take a miracle since it involves changing lead’s atomic structure into that of gold’s. That was just a little out of the alchemist’s league!
That leaves us with mining and refining to acquire this precious substance and “that don’t come easy,” as some of my friends say!
Yes, some gold lies on the surface of the earth, but most of it is embedded in the earth, in dirt and rock. “Gee thanks, God!” The earth must be mined, then the rocks and debris pulverized. Next, the ore is refined through various processes:
· The gold ore is lovingly placed in a 1,000oF blast furnace so impurities are burned off,
· Next, it’s subjected to pure oxygen so impurities are oxidized away,
· The gold ore is then washed with cyanide that further separates the gold from the impurities.
· The gold-cyanide solution is passed through activated carbon, tiny rocks of it, where the gold leaves the cyanide and bonds to carbon. Then the gold is chemically stripped from the carbon.
· The gold is claimed out of the solution electrolytically (via electricity) or through another chemical agent.
· BUT that’s not yet the end! The gold is again thrown into a smelter to burn away the last of the impurities. A basic bar of gold is 90% pure, but pure gold, 24k gold, is 999.9 parts per thousand gold.
Years ago, I heard an intercessor, Noel Alexander, talk about his visit to a South African gold refinery. He asked the man in charge of processing how he could tell when the gold was pure. The man answered, “When I can see my reflection in it.” That only happens when no impurities are marring the observer’s image. Wow! That’s an expensive mirror!
Let’s move from processing to properties, shall we? Gold has some remarkable properties in its purified state. (Yup. I did my homework.)
Gold is malleable, meaning flexible under pounding and pressure. Pure gold is astonishingly soft. It’s slightly harder than a fingernail but not as hard as a coin or glass. It can be hammered cold into a translucent wafer 1/13 millionth of a centimeter. And yes, light can pass through it when it’s that thin! One ounce of gold can be beaten into a sheet covering about 27 square feet and 0.000018 cm thick. Gold can be beaten and stretched until it is so thin it can only be handled by a soft brush. We call that gold leaf.
Gold is ductile, a fancy-schmancy word for stretchy. Gold can be stretched a LOOOONG way before it reaches its breaking point, much farther than you think! A single ounce of gold can be drawn into an extremely thin 5-micron diameter gold wire, 50 miles long, with which to make electrical contacts.
Gold is durable. Gold can take a lot of abuse and still be gold. It may not be pretty, but it endures! There’s no such thing as good gold or bad gold. Gold is a basic element. It can be mistreated or mixed with impurities or broken down to its smallest part, but gold is still gold. And gold is resistant to most naturally occurring chemicals, so it doesn't tarnish like silver.
Gold is an effective conduit. It’s very efficient at transferring heat and electricity.
However, gold is not invincible. Gold may be durable, but it can be destroyed by outside forces. However, those forces have to be extreme! Even at 5,100oF, gold becomes a gas, but it’s still gold.
Finally and biblically speaking, gold is the preferred material for the most intimate settings of God’s Throne Room.
The Tabernacle and Temple’s Outer Sacrificial Altar and the priest’s Wash Basin were bronze – a mixture of copper and tin. But there was no such mixture in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies! (Here’s an illustration) The wood walls creating the box for the two inner rooms were plated with gold. The Menorah (the 7-branched oil lamp) which illuminated the Holy Place was hammered out of a single gold ingot (I told you it was stretchy!). The Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense were made of gold-plated wood and hammered gold. Within the Holy of Holies, the Ark (God’s earthly throne) was a gold-plated box with a lid called the Mercy Seat, hammered out of pure gold!
Now picture this! The Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were within the gold box. The box had a ceiling and a curtain (that separated the box into two rooms) both of which were made of finely spun cloth from blue, scarlet, purple, and white threads. Images of cherubim were worked into the design. What are you seeing? An earthly representation of God’s throne room in heaven!
Now in your mind, imagine standing in the Tabernacle’s Holy Place. The only light comes from the oil lamps on the Menorah’s seven branches to your left and the glow of God’s presence above the Ark and behind the separating curtain in front of you. All this illumination reflects off the gold all around you.
Stunning, to say the least!
But Solomon’s Temple was even more spectacular. The entire interior was overlaid with gold – floor to ceiling! The priests served God within the inner sanctum, a 90’ deep by 30’ wide by 45’ high box, lined with cedar planks, and entirely covered with polished gold (1 Kings 6). Nice digs for Israel’s God!
Solomon’s Temple, built about 3,000 years ago, used 3,750 tons of gold in its construction. At the time of this blog post, that amount of gold would be worth an astronomical 194.6 billion dollars! Yes, people. I can do math. (Okay, I cheated. I used the gold calculator)
Seriously! $194 billion in gold for the Temple? Kinda makes the budget for your church building project pale in comparison, right?
But there’s something much more valuable to us than gold.
For that, you’ll have to wait for the next post.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts