“For our God is a consuming fire.”
“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
When we see verses stated more than one time in the Scriptures, it should make us stop and reflect.
In Deuteronomy 4:24, we see God is called a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29 echoes the same words as Deuteronomy 4:24. In Deuteronomy 4:24, the word “consuming” comes from the transliteration of the Hebrew word “akal.” The word “consuming” means to devour, burn up, devastate, ravage. In Hebrews 12:29, the transliteration of the Greek word is "katanaliskō” which means to be consumed, to burn up. Sin, wickedness, evil, and all those who are defiant against God will be burned up. He will show forth His glory like a consuming fire. These verses cannot be ignored as they are somber warnings against idolatry and the judgment soon to come.
What God showed me is not an image I can easily forget. When God had revealed to me Himself as a consuming fire, He showed me He is purging evil and wickedness and cleansing everything with His fire. He showed me destruction awaits those who oppose and rebel against Him.
It is a horrifying thought to be ravaged by fire or burned up. Yet, while the words of these verses are comforting to those who are believers, these words are downright terrifying to those who are practicing a life of sin. There is no comfort or peace for those who are not living a life surrendered to God.
“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Yes, God is jealous for us, and He burns with passion and zeal for His children. He desires to communicate and have a relationship with us. He is the consuming fire who loves His children far more than we could ever imagine. The problem is when we are not serving Him, we are serving and living for self. Serving and living for self is pushing God out of His rightful place in our lives. When we push God out of His rightful place in our lives, we break the first commandment. “You must not have any other God but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any king or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods…” Exodus 20:3-5.
The nature and character of God is HOLINESS. The God we see in the Old Testament is the same God we see in the New Testament. God has not changed. His commands have not changed. We are commanded to be holy, and “…He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16. We are called to holiness. Therefore, as His children, we follow God’s instructions on how to be holy. We cannot be holy and take on the beliefs and philosophies of the world. Being holy and being worldly do not mix. We are either holy or worldly; we cannot be both.
God is the fire that refines. He is the One who is able to cleanse the stains of sin and shame. He is able to make a person complete. Because He is holy, He calls for repentance. If we do not have a holy fear of God and who He is, no act of worship will be acceptable to Him. If we do not have reverence for God, then we will not treat God with honor.
Linda A. Knowles