Our God is a “Consuming Fire”
I have been living in Austin Texas (Round Rock, Pflugerville, but mostly Austin) since May 21st,2006. When God started putting “Austin” on my heart a year and half earlier to a city I didn’t even know existed, I had always wondered what He had in store and what work he had prepared in advance for me. He had lots in the past five and half years, but I was not prepared for the revelation He gave me these past two weeks of His True Nature: Our God is a Consuming Fire.
I have read several passages of this particular nature of His, have sang about it, but have not paid much attention to it or should I say cared to know. Two years ago, I took The Covenant class at ASCC with Terra and Kyle McDaniel, and there I was introduced to this character in Genesis 15 when God made His Covenant with Abram. (Please take time to read this passage….It is a blessing!)
The LORD’s Covenant With Abram
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”8 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Woooow! Was my first reaction. He just consumed it (He just ate it up) and God is a Fire…wide-eyed and in awe. I will put the list of all the passages of scripture which mention this particular attribute of God for your benefit at the end of this writing.
All I remember about 9/4/11 was that A&M was playing SMU and the game was at 6:30pm CT and I was going to get my workout on while watching the game: the perfect plan. As I headed to my apartment gym, I saw that pool side furnitures were thrown and tossed/broken in very suspicious fashion, which even made me think that fool play might be involved (residents not being good stewards of apartment properties so took pictures to show leasing office personels). I later learned that it was the 40 miles per hour wind, the Culprit giving fuel to the fire at Bastrop besides the extreme drought that Texas had been experiencing….I have stopped counting the days without precipitation.
There were panic Facebook updates popping up stating: “Hey there is a fire 2000 yards from our house” and “I am going to go help evacuate…., Mercy” strolling for the next couple of days and of course the loss and damage was felt all over Texas. The coolest story during this time was of God’s assurance in the midst of Chaos. My sister sent me the following scripture from all the way across the Atlantic Ocean-UK(She had no clue that we were in a Crisis here in America) and it read:
Israel’s Only Savior
1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
I can’t remember whether it was the day of or the day after, Karen, a sister in the Lord who I was introduced a short while ago, was being evacuated with her family and that was when I started panicking. I praise God for making the wind change its course in the Vicinity where Karen lived and she was able to return to her home that night and I realized that the very scripture my sister had sent me was for her on that day. I kicked myself for not listening/believing it and strengthening her in His word. I apologized that I could be slow in getting what He was telling me, but rejoiced with what God had done for her. The fire was still moving and gaining momentum and ravaging anything in its path….leaving lifeless, bare, and death behind it. I felt that the fire was everywhere and closing in to where it had not yet visited. We waited and we were on High Alert as an apartment complex 5 miles away from where I lived was being evacuated. “Have an emergency bag ready and check the media and emails” was the norm now.
The day that sheer panic had crossed my heart was the day I stepped out of my apartment door and took a lung full of air only to cough it right back up in distaste. The smoke was in our neighborhood and the sky was veiled by an ashy grayish thin curtain of smoke. Those who had allergies felt it the most. I literally ran to the front office and said wide eyed “do you guys smell that?”. “Yes, we are on High Alert! Stay in tune just in case”…I was not reassured…I had not even considered where I would go and was overwhelmed and stressed (to put it mildly broke out in cold sores as I often do when my body is tense or on high alert for long periods of time). I also read FB post from friends with you tube footage of how fast these wild fires had ravaged everything they came in contact with. One footage freaked me out literally. It was a 0:50 second footage of a Wildfire in Bastrop advancing with a vengeance. It consumed all it came in contact with and left singed death behind it….all 200 or so yards of God given goodness gone within less than a minute. My heart was still. I was in awe and fear recognizing its matchless power. God arrested my thoughts on that particular footage: How much more is God? If what God had created could bring such awareness of God’s power, how much more of a “Consuming Fire” is He? The fear of God entered my heart and I stood in awe of Him. He had taught it to me before through His word, but now had given me an understanding (a glimpse) of what He said in the book of Isaiah: “Who is my equal?” My answer was: NO ONE LORD!!!!!
As I mourn, pray, and serve (in whatever capacity the Lord leads me) those affected by this natural disaster, knowing that these fires were caused both by human error and drought and not knowing why God has allowed it, I have come to this conclusion. God has given us a glimpse of His matchless power as a “Consuming Fire.” There were over 1400 homes incinerated and also more than two lives lost to this fire: total devastation especially for the Town of Bastrop. It has shaken the world of so many who are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and trying to move forward. Terra McDaniel, who had recently experienced similar property loss in her personal life, summarized it perfectly and simply: “Just drove through Bastrop. I wish the smell of burned air and wet ash weren’t familiar. Praying for that city!”.
God is still at work. He allows us to be stripped bare of our comfort, familiar things, or worldly assurance, and securities, He is doing a similar work in our spiritual lives to shake all the corners of who we are and demolish those areas which are not founded in him. He wants to be our only foundation so we could endure, perservere, and withstand until the end. We may not understand all His ways, see His plans, but we could always trust His heart for us. He works all things for our good and God is in the business or redemption and restoration. I came across this song by Jimmy Needham this afternoon and the introduction to His song was so powerful and fitting that I have decided to include as part of this Blog. I am praying it blesses you and encourage you to seek all of God: His love, His mercy, His Grace, His comfort, His guidance, His leading, His peace, His justice, and His discipline as He sees fit. I love you and want God’s best for all your lives who is Christ Himself. He is our Shield and our very great reward and we need not be afraid of what comes, but walk by faith until our faith becomes sight. Glory to God!!!!!
Here is Jimmy Needham song: Hurricane from his Album: Not without Love.
Passages of Scripture describing God as a Consuming Fire:
To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
Exodus 24:16-18 (in Context) Exodus 24 (Whole Chapter)
For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Deuteronomy 4:23-25 (in Context) Deuteronomy 4 (Whole Chapter)
Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.
Judges 6:20-22 (in Context) Judges 6 (Whole Chapter)
2 Samuel 22:9
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.
2 Samuel 22:8-10 (in Context) 2 Samuel 22 (Whole Chapter)
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.
Psalm 18:7-9 (in Context) Psalm 18 (Whole Chapter)
See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.
Isaiah 30:26-28 (in Context) Isaiah 30 (Whole Chapter)
The LORD will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.
Isaiah 30:29-31 (in Context) Isaiah 30 (Whole Chapter)
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”
Isaiah 33:13-15 (in Context) Isaiah 33 (Whole Chapter)
With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
Joel 2:4-6 (in Context) Joel 2 (Whole Chapter)
for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29 (in Context) Hebrews 12 (Whole Chapter)