Isaiah 10:17 “So the Light of Israel will be for a fire, And his Holy One for a flame; It will burn and devour His thorns and his briers in one day.”
Fire has been a topic of conversation of late. In these areas of the west coast of America, wild fires have been burning in unprecedented numbers. As I write, there are two massive fires in California still burning at an uncontrollable rate, whipped up by the diablo and Santa Ana winds, it spreads in some areas at a pace that cannot be contained. Homes, property, and animals are all perishing in these fires that seem almost apocalyptical in their size and destruction.
Fire has not been uncommon when it comes to the Lord, He has used fire on multiple occasions as a means to convey a message, lead, bring judgement, as a symbol, or render a spiritual example.
Early in mankind’s existence, we notice after the expulsion from the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were prevented from entering the garden by Cherubim that were holding a flaming swords that were flashing back and forth.
Why flaming swords? Why Cherubim?
Cherubim were considered the highest of God’s angels. They are positioned in the throne room of God and were symbolically placed on the Ark of the Covenant.
It seems what we can say is that the cherubim were symbols of the mercy of God. While the flaming sword in the Garden of Eden symbolized God’s justice, the position of the cherubim, to keep them from re-entering the Garden, was a sign of God’s mercy. The position of the cherubim over the Ark of the Covenant, and in the Holy of Holies, would also seem to speak of the mercy of God. There is much more than can be identified regarding Cherubim, symbolism is existent in every work of God.
The fire of God’s countenance.
Exodus 3:2-6 “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.“
Why does God appear as fire? Why a bush?
First, we see this wasn’t just fire, it was the Angel of the Lord. He was represented by His glory…this was Jesus preincarnate. As Benson stated, the burning bush was “An emblem of the church now in bondage in Egypt, burning in the brick-kilns, yet not consumed; cast down, but not destroyed; for God was in the burning bush, He was and always will be present with his people in their sufferings”.
Jesus takes a personal stake in His church, because it is He who has formed it, the church is representative of His bridegroom and He prepares a place for His church in heaven for eternity. He will redeem His church from the earth, and it is Jesus who calls His people out of the world. It was this church that all of Creation was connected to, that God gave authority for and for whom will share in His glory in the end.
The equipping of the church was evident at Pentecost and the fire of God’s Holiness was present again.
Acts 2:1-4 “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.“
These tongues of fire were the manifestation of the Holy Spirit that had been promised by Jesus. The sacrifice of Christ upon the cross and His victory of death brought opportunity for us to receive the Spirit of God into our hearts. The fire of the Spirit is once again symbolic of the Holiness and purity of God’s presence. He purifies our hearts and sanctifies us for His work. Each tongue of fire was differentiated from the other. Each person of God must walk in the Spirit to manifest the things of the Spirit. We each have a unique ministry and purpose and yet we see the commonality of God’s Spirit in each brother and sister in Christ. As the body of Christ, we are many people but one in Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that binds us together in unity and makes us one.
Psalm 29:7 “The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.”
Not only is this verse prophetic in how God’s presence was manifested at Pentecost, it is also reflective of the magnitude of His voice among His people. The voice is the expression of the heart, the Spirit of God is the expression of the heart of God. His voice is Holy, His voice is purifying, and when heard, His voice brings Truth to His people.
When John was given the Revelation of things to come, he was shown the conquering King in His glory and he tried to describe Him.
Revelation 1:14 “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;”
The conquering King will appear once again in all His glory and the world will see that He alone is Lord of all. He will not come as the suffering servant but in judgement as the Lion of Judah upon this evil world. When He looks upon us, His Holiness will permeate through the charade of self-righteousness and will reveal all that we are.
1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;”
These trials that we go through are initiated by God. How often do we hear people equating trials with something bad, or evil. The trials have a purifying effect in our lives. They produce God’s goodness and purposes to make us Holy: “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” vs 13
The fire of the Lord is representative of His providence.
Exodus 13:20-22 “So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.”
Once again, Jesus led the way.
The Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the bush is the same One who led them through the wilderness in a pillar of fire. The evidence of God’s glory, goodness, and faithfulness was continually reminding them He was near, that He was leading them and protecting them. To the Egyptians, the pillar was an obstruction and to the nations a reminder of the fear of the Lord. The Lord does not abandon His people in the time of their greatest need, He continually acts in faithfulness.
When they approached the mountain of the Lord at Horeb, we see another manifestation of His presence…God’s Holy judgement.
Anyone found approaching the Mountain of the Lord without being sanctified would be dead. As Moses stood before the people and revealed the Moral Law, he reflected on this measure of righteousness that brings judgment and yet we also see Mercy.
Deuteronomy 5:1-7 “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said:
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’
The fire of the Lord has been treated as nothing today. People willingly blaspheme the name of Christ in how they speak and how they live. The Angel of the Lord was shown to be Holy and people now treat His name as nothing. The Lord is patiently waiting for His church to complete their purpose and then the church age will come to an end and when it does, look out. God’s vengeance upon the earth will be with the fire of His holiness and it will be great!
In the last days…which is today by the way….the nations we see coalescing in the middle east will form an alliance and will attack Israel. These nations will stir up God’s wrath and we see what happens in Ezekiel 38:21-23 “And I will summon a sword against Gog on all My mountains, declares the Lord GOD, and every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed. I will pour out torrents of rain, hailstones, fire, and sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. I will magnify and sanctify Myself, and will reveal Myself in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.“
This is the reason why Israel is still prominent in the world…God uses this nation to reveal that He alone is God.
In the last days the prophet Zechariah spoke of the refining that will take place in the land:
The Shepherd Savior
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’
The refining power of God extends not only into His people but the elements will be purified as well.
2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
All that we know now will be gone, all that will come will be made new.
Our old nature—gone.
When the Lord returns nothing will be able to stand before Him.
Micah 1:4 “The mountains will melt beneath Him, and the valleys will split apart, like wax before the fire, like water cascading down a slope.”
The reality of it, you either are refined by the fire of the Spirit now, or you will be caught up in the fire of Hell below. It really is your choice. There is a consequence to sin and it will be dealt with before a Just and Holy God.
We have an advocate…Jesus has saved us from this judgement if we will only be made Holy by Him. His refining fire will purify the hearts of all who believe and they will be made Holy before Him.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The fire of the Lord has been evident since the beginning of Creation, for some it is a blessing and for others it will be a curse. It will purge every life that is not of Him and it will leave only that which is Holy. All of our works will be refined by it and that which remains will be pure gold.
Where will you stand? Will the fire lead you or block you? Will it refine or scourge?
Jesus is what makes the difference.
It is a life lived by faith in the Son of God that comes through the fire and is made perfect.