Four times in the Bible there are “God is” statements. Each of these gives us a glimpse of God’s character. Let’s take a look at one of those statements. God is a consuming fire. Obviously, I’ve saved the best for last.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
God is a consuming fire. Holy cow!
Fire is amazingly useful, but it is also amazingly deadly. Man has found amazing and creative ways to harness the power of fire to do things. We use fire in everything from a simple candle to the complexity of the engine in your car. Fire cooks our food, heats our houses, decorates patio seating at our favorite restaurants, launches spacecraft and makes beautiful patterned fireworks in the sky. But when we lose control of fire, it consumes and destroys everything in it’s path. Your entire life can change dramatically with one uncontrolled spark.
In Oregon, where I live, the summer months are filled with news of fires. Giant forest fires that take out hundreds of miles of trees. The fires aren’t reported in terms of being put out, the fires are reported in the percentage of the fire that is contained. You might hear that the Biscuit Fire is 45% contained or the Griffin Gulch Fire is 95% contained. This doesn’t mean the fire is 35% or 95% put out, this means the spreading of the fire has been stopped 35% or 95% of the way around the fire. When a fire reaches 100% contained, the fire is often still burning. That fire will burn inside the bounds of the fire until either the rain puts the fire out, or everything that can be burned inside the containment circle is completely consumed. This is a consuming fire.
God isn’t described as the fire on a candle or a camp fire; God is a consuming fire. The type of fire that cannot be stopped. God cannot be controlled, contained or put out. He will burn where he wants to burn until nothing is left. This is why Hebrews tells us that we should offer “acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” because just like fire, God must be respected.
In Deuteronomy 4, Moses warns the people to be careful to follow the Law set by God after he dies and to not make any idols or worship any other gods.
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Moses, understood better than anyone else the amazing power and might of God. Moses spoke to God and at one point saw God. When the people sinned, Moses first reaction was to fall on the ground and beg for God’s mercy towards the people because he knew that God could and would destroy the entire nation in one fell swoop. God is jealous. His fire will not be held back against those who turn away from Him.
The power that we should fear is the same power that God uses against those who want to hurt us
Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven… Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.
Deuteronomy 9:1, 3
God doesn’t just burn against us when we do wrong. When a child does wrong, he will fear his father because of the punishment he knows is coming. But when someone does wrong to the child, he knows he can run to his father because the father won’t let anyone mess with his child. The same is true for God’s children. Just a few chapters after Moses told the nation of Israel to fear God as a consuming fire, he tells them not to fear the people who live in the land because God, a consuming fire, will go with them and destroy their enemies. The same power and might that we should fear is the same power and might that God uses against those who want to hurt us.
God is a consuming fire. He cannot be contained or controlled. He isn’t a fire that man can manipulate for his own good. God is uncontrollable and will not stop until everything is consumed. When we break God’s commandments, He can unleash His fire against us. We must have respect and awe for His power. But He also consumes those who wish to hurt us. He protects His children with that same power and might. With Him we are protected and cared for and have the backing of the greatest power in all the universe.
This is a four part series examining the “God is” statements in the Bible. You can find and read all four parts here.