Fire is fascinating. As a boy I love to play with a lighter, use a magnifying glass to ignite leaves, or stare at a campfire well into the night. Why is it so fascinating. Recently our family spent an evening with others in our church and we spent time around a fire pit. It was not long into the night that I began to play in the fire and find things I could ignite. After my wife commented on my actions, I was reminded that I am still a child at heart.
The intriguing idea with fire is that it can both consume and calm. It has the power to destroy and to heal. It can blaze through the wilderness as a wildfire and destroy homes, yet at the same time in its wake new growth can emerge as the ground is cleansed. This contrast is a beautiful object lesson that God provides to help us better understand who He is.
Hebrews 12:18-29 contrasts God as a blazing fire that cannot be touched and as a consuming fire that calls us into submissive rest. In our brokenness, His justice and wrath condemn us to separation. Yet, in His love and mercy His consuming nature will wrap us in grace and refine us to love and good deeds.
This understanding of His nature should build in us a fearful respect and an approachable rest. This may sound contradictory, but it is clearly where we should live. It is not too dissimilar from a healthy respect in an earthly father relationship.
As a child, I feared my father’s discipline. At the same time, when I was frightened I would rush to find security in his arms. This contrast gives us context to understand the justice and grace of God, similarly to the blazing fire of His wrath compared to the consuming fire as we live in the submissive heart of worship.
Rest today in reverence that it is only by God’s grace that we are adopted in His family. Walk in worship that He alone deserves our praise. And live as a light in the darkness to show others a way of escape from the blazing furnace of God’s judgment.