A Devotion for 21 October 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
A Wall of Fire affords an enormous barrier of protection from those within. During the Vietnam War, perimeter defense was the first order of business when a unit moved into a hostile area. Part of that defense often involved establishing a line of foo-gas (Fr: fougasse) as the last line of defense if the enemy penetrated our outer defense. This foo-gas was a mixture of gas and a powdered substance that resembled napalm. When ignited, the explosion blew the mixture over any enemy before the lines. It was like a jelly that adhered to the skin like glue as it burned – a horrible weapon and an equally horrible way to die. But when confronting an unscrupulous enemy, extraordinary measures were required. God, too, takes extraordinary measures in protecting His Church. He accomplished that with a Pillar of Fire by Night and a Pillar of Smoke by day in leading Israel out of bondage. The Fire becomes a blessing to those for whom it is a protection, and a curse to those who violate the limits of God’s approbation.
When we read that God is a “consuming fire,” we may be moved with a feeling of dread and doubt, for we have learned that God is love. God is both a consuming fire and love at the same time. Both are perfect descriptions of our God. We may erroneously consider that the love of God will override His perfect sense of judgment – that is not the case. Because the judgment of God is immutably averse to sin, He will tolerate no sin in His presence. His Judgment is so unwavering that He sent His only Begotten Son to pay the required penalty for our sins. The love of God cannot cancel out His certain Judgment. It is not a question of intention, but one of impossibility.
It is by the means of fire that God will finally judge this wicked world. “9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:9-12 (KJV)
The elements will be dissolved with fervent heat! That would be comparable to a combination of both fusion and fission nuclear reactions as in the sun. THAT IS HOT! Whoever is left on this old globe will be burned to physical, but not spiritual, oblivion. Perhaps there is a message for the fickle modernist today in this warning. Though not a fan, I do like the illustration of the Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, who tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience thinks this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concluded Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”
The invention of fire-making marked a great leap forward in civilization. Things that before were impossible suddenly became possible. Metallurgy suddenly came into practice. Not only metal tolls for cooking were possible but, unfortunately, the making of more deadly weapons came into popular practice. There are two sides to every technological advance – good and evil.
With the advent of fire, man was able to more properly cook his foods. He was able to endure the cold winter weather in greater comfort, and he was more able to secure his lodgings by building fires in the perimeters to scare away ravaging animals.
But fire is a deadly weapon used to destroy homes, cities, and fields of harvest. It is a dreaded resource of the greater numbers of men and women on the surface of the earth. Perhaps it is because, deep in the hearts of all, fire is the destiny of all who are wicked. Despite efforts to modern so-called Bible translators to expunge the reality of a fiery destiny to those who are reprobate sinners, the Word of God cannot be denied. An eternal torment is not palatable to the modernist, so two verses reflecting that fact are removed in most modern perversions of the Bible (translated from corrupt text): “43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:43-46 (KJV) The most popular corrupt translations, NIV & ESV, delete the verses (44 &46) lined through above in the text. It is a lot easier to graphically delete than it is to change or eliminate truth.
Yes, fire is a deadly weapon, but it is also the Lord’s instrument in protecting His people. That Wall of Fire to which Zechariah alludes is constantly encircling the people of God and He truly is in the midst. That Wall of Fire could not be breached by the Rich man who shunned the Beggar Lazarus.
“11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.1 Cor 3:11-17 (KJV)
Having that Rock-solid foundation in Christ, the security of the soul is assured even if unmeritorious works are not accepted. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Christ, but we have assurance of salvation and forgiveness in Him.