Friday, February 24, 2006

Our God is a Consuming Fire (Part One)

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." - Hebrews 12:28-29

This entire twelfth chapter of Hebrews never fails to cause me to tremble. We find throughout this text certain portions of Scripture (not often quoted) that have the ability to pierce our hearts through, revealing some of the most terrifying truths in the Bible. For example:

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
(12:14-17)

These are by no means comforting thoughts, but serious words of exhortation and warning. If a person can read the passage above and lightly cast it aside without hesitation I would wonder of his heart. For as quoted earlier, let us "serve God acceptably with reverence and fear", and take seriously the things God says.

Let's meditate on this for a moment. In verses 18-21, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that we have NOT come unto the mount which the Israelites in the desert had come upon (Exodus 19)... smoke and fire and thunder; God speaking out of the cloud; borders assigned all around the mountain that no man or beast would draw near to touch...; "And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." (12:21) I certainly have not come unto this mount, and I'll wager that no one reading this article has either.

But (for those who were just breathing a sigh of relief), we have indeed come unto a mount, yet one far greater than the one described above. Reading on: "But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (12:22-24)

Hebrews is such a deeply profound book, rich with the treasures of heaven! We know that the stories and events of old "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5, 10:1), and we further know that the covenant brought about by Christ's blood is far greater than that of bulls, lambs and goats, and so thereby we can conclude that our approach unto Mount Zion is far more exceedingly glorious and fearful than that of Moses' approach unto the mount of fire, smoke and tempest. The point I am trying to make is this: if in the past men considered the covenant with God terrifying, how much more today, whereby our covenant of God is not bought with the blood of animals, but with the blood of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son?

My concern is this: that Christians very often tread upon the things of God with such carelessness and recklessness in utter disregard for Scripture and for that which is holy! This is dangerous ground.

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire."

We ought never to use God's grace as a permit for frivolousness. Never! To say the blood of Jesus gives us freedom to tread recklessly upon the Word of God is treacherous... it is exactly the opposite! How much more should we be reverent unto God, walking in obedience to Him because of the great sacrifice it cost Him to redeem us? I firmly believe the mountain to which we have come upon is far more frightful than the one Moses' and the Israelites approached, though it is unseen and heavenly, and not visual and earthly. How much more, dear saints!

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." (Romans 11:22)

Lord, praise You for the love You have lavished upon us in Jesus Christ Your Son, and teach us how to respond to the marvellous high calling it is to be those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Amen.

1 comment:

Burdened said...

I agree. Our God is a consuming fire. For those who have had vision of him, it is a terrible and awesome one. We should understand our worth before such a magnificent God! How quickly we make much of ourselves before God forgetting how awesome he is.

When I think of how terrifying God must be to behold (terrifying for us in our sinful flesh), I think of Moses. Moses, the giver of the first covenant, was only allowed to view God's back. How much more have we, having been saved of Christ, should be able to enter into his presence? I love the vocabulary of John 1. "The Word was with God". Literally "with" can be translated "at the side of" which is later contrasted in chapter one with Moses only being able to see God's back. If we are able to enter into relationship with Christ, one who has been with God from eternity before, we should have confidense before the Throne of God. This is not to be taken lightly, of course.

I pray that God reveal our weakness before him! Understand that our life is but a vapor before the awesome, eternal God!