Monday, January 21, 2013

His Consuming Fire

His Consuming Fire


For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” – Deuteronomy 4:24

I’ve done a little bit of planting in my day and found that if you want growth in anything, you have to pull out the weeds surrounding the plant.  You have to give all energy that’s in the ground to the plant you want to grow.  If the energy is stolen by the weeds, then the weeds grow and overtake the ground. 
Sometimes when there are too many weeds to pull, a farmer will set the field on fire, destroying everything to start over with fresh ground.  But the ground is actually strengthened with the byproducts of the consumed weeds.  The decay and ash of the burned plant matter nourishes the soil.

God weeds out His children with His consuming fire as well.  He uses that fire to create holiness within us.  There are four times in God’s word He is called a “consuming fire”. 
The first time is in Exodus 24:17 when it says “The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.”  He appeared like a fire, burning and seeming to consume the mountain, yet the mountain remained after His presence left.  But His presence had already made the mountain, which had been just an ordinary mountain, Holy ground (Exodus 3:5). The children of Israel were warned not to go near the mountain, nor to let any beast go near it because they would die.  His Holiness consumes and destroys sin.

The second time is in Deuteronomy 4:24 which says, For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”  This time it comes in a warning of sin’s consequences to the Israelites.  God told them that idolatry would cause them to “utterly perish from the land” and be “utterly destroyed”.  God will be worshipped, and He will be glorified in our lives.  Giving Him less than your full worship, your full submission, has consequences.  He is jealous FOR us - not against us.  It is to our benefit that we become submissive to Him.
The third time is in Deuteronomy 9:3 when the Israelites are about to go into war against the inhabitants of the Promised Land, the enemies of God.  He tells them “Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you.”  But His clearing of the Promised Land for them was not due to their righteousness, for He had once thought to completely destroy them while they were in the wilderness.  His clearing of the Promised Land was due to the sins of its inhabitants.  His consuming fire is to remove sin.  He will consume anything that stands in the way of His promise toward us, which is an abundant life with Him.

The fourth time is in Hebrews 12:29 when Paul writes For our God is a consuming fire.” Paul is writing of the purification of the saved children of God.  He will burn up the ground so that sanctification takes place.  He will leave it nourished by the trials and the pain, and bring our spirit into subjection to His.
Another thing I’ve learned about planting is that there are some plants that cannot be put into the ground or they’ll overtake the ground.  One small container of spearmint will in a year become a yard full of spearmint!  Some plants are stronger than all others and will create a root mass that chokes out all others. 

God’s Holy Spirit is much like that.  As we drawn closer to God through His word and following His leadership we give more ground to His Spirit, and sin in us will be destroyed by His Holiness.  His Spirit is so much stronger than ours!  It’s not our work in us that creates holiness, but His work in us.  We just submit, offering up the ground. 
Children of God listen to the guidance of His Spirit and submit to the process of purification.  Don’t cause Him to set your field on fire.

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