“For the Lord your god is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 4:24
God used fire to demonstrate His character, His power, His presence and His jealousy over and over again in scripture. He led the Israelites by a cloud by day, but by a pillar of fire by night. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, he built the altar, prepared the sacrifice and even poured water on it, scripture says that the “fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38) When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, fire fell from heaven and rested on men. (Acts 2:2-4) God is our consuming fire, a jealous God.
Truthfully there is a part of me that can be so overwhelmed by the thought of God as a consuming fire that I could close my laptop right now and say lesson over and just worship Him. But I want to show God’s consuming fire to you in scripture.
I ran across this passage in my study about Moses in Exodus chapter 24. The chapter starts with a command from the Lord.
“Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar, Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.’” Exodus 24:1-2
So the Lord summoned Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy elders to come to the mountain to worship Him. Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord had said and he gave them the rules that the Lord had set down for them and he built an altar and they sacrificed and the people pledged their allegiance to God. Then ~
“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There under his feet as it were a pavement of Sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11
These men, these leaders and elders of Israel saw God! Now we know from other places in scripture that this could not have been a face to face as it says over and over that no one could see God face to face. Then ~
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’” Exodus 24:12
This is just getting better and better, first all of these men have looked up and seen some vision of God. They may not have seen His face, but they had seen enough that they knew His presence was there, they had seen the beauty and seen the presence of God and now Moses was being invited further up the mountain. And he goes with his assistant Joshua and he instructs the elders to wait until they return. And then this next passage is what I want you to see. Then ~
“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:15-18
Can you just see it? Moses climbing this mountain where the glory of the Lord is visible as a cloud but also a devouring fire and Moses goes right up to it and he enters the cloud, the glory of the Lord and he stays there with Him for forty days and forty nights. Can you just imagine the glory of the all consuming fire of God and being in His presence like that? I know my human experiences can’t come close to it. The closest I have ever come is being at a conference with thousands of people who are all praising and worshiping God. If you have never gone to one of those, I implore you to do so if you ever get the opportunity. For several years I would travel with our church to the Passion conferences with our high school seniors and college students. My favorite times of those were when the conference would meet in the Georgia Dome. There would be 30,000 plus college students, high school seniors and their leaders. When the praise and worship times of the conference would happen and everyone in that place would be there to worship God, it was an overwhelming sight and experience. Many times I opened my eyes expecting to see a cloud covering the dome. Because I knew His glory was right there with us. It was incredible and I would think to myself this was the closest experience to heaven I would ever have on earth.
Friends, He is still that to us today. This is not just an experience for the Old Testament. Oh I am not sure you can just manufacture an experience like this with God, but you can ask Him to show you His all consuming fire. Because it is who He is. You ask Him to show you His glory. It may not be in an arena right now. It may be in the birth of a new born baby. It may be in the belly laugh of a baby or looking in the eyes of your chiIdren or grandchildren. It may be in a sunrise or in a sunset. But His glory is all around us. His consuming fire is Him and His unshakable kingdom. Even when our world around us seems to be shaking apart, we belong to the unshakable kingdom.
“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.” Hebrews 12:28-29