The Consuming Fire
“….Do not be haughty but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either” Romans 11:20-21 nkjv. God is to be feared just as much as He is to be loved.
I have noticed how very frequent the phrase, “God is love” is used, mostly by persons after they have been admonished for tolerating or participating in acts God disapproves of. I think for many persons it’s easier to imagine a God that is so loving He will let even things He speaks against go unpunished. Many think God having any kind of wrath is just something “Bible-Banging” Christians dreamt up to frighten people into Christianity. How ridiculous is that? There are those who think it’s silly to tell them to fear God. Why? Because “He is love” and why would they have to fear someone loving.
It is really no surprise that God’s wrath is hardly ever mentioned. God indeed is loving, but He is also a consuming fire (Hebrew 12:29). Many seem to forget the same God that parted the Red Sea; that created the world, that fed the Hebrews in the wilderness with manna from heaven, Is the same God that is still here today. He healed the sick and raised the dead; made a way for us to be reconciled to Him through the blood of Jesus, brought dry bones to life in front of Ezekiel, also in wrath destroyed cities after longsuffering with them. He killed the firstborn of the Egyptians on the eve of the Hebrews exodus out of Egypt, He delivered a disobedient Israel into captivity to the Chaldeans, securing His remnant of course. This is the very same one God, who’s Holy Spirit is supplied to those who believe, as a seal of the promise. He did all of those things, so why do people portray God as some kind of dispensable god that can be mocked and walked over?
The fear of the Lord should be preached from the mountain tops. Many persons take each day they are here on earth for granted. Arrogantly, many go about the day never giving a single thought as to how they were able to wake up, how they were able to arrive to work safely, and return home at night without a scratch. A pilot and passengers hop on board a plane and maybe a few would even consider that it is by Gods grace that the plane even enters the sky and gets them to their destination without incedent.
Throughout Biblical history God’s wrath has been displayed in many ways, but today it’s like people have forgotten and think He’s that god that television shows and movies depict Him to be. He’s not some guy sitting in the sky smoking pot wearing a white choir robe, or some guy in the sky with a baritone voice talking to people randomly. God isn’t some dude that delegates angels to come out of heaven and carouse with humans, and by the end of the movie the angel is deciding whether to be a human or to drag himself back to that insufferable perfect place called heaven, that’s not God and angels don not conduct themselves like that. I’ll tell you one thing, if you trust Hollywood to teach you all about God, life and death, you will go through life completely misguided and out for a rude awakening.
There are a lot of people that claim they love God yet don’t keep His commandments. Many say they fear God yet it’s not evident in their conduct, just a bunch of double talk. Someone once told me one day, “Yeah, I fear God, but I don’t think He’s this tyrant you make Him out to be.” See, people don’t want to believe God is also able to destroy, He is able to punish as HE sees fit, they envision a passive God, a God that on the Day Of Judgment will pardon those who were unable to find self-control. I was telling her that repentance is important because nobody truly want’s to experience the wrath of God. Nobody want’s to hear about repentance either apparently. Nobody want’s to hear that they got to deny themselves, because as humans many of us think we are entitled to certain things, even if those things are contrary to way God expects us to live.
It seems as though whenever a person mentions God’s wrath, which is hardly mentioned by the way, but when folks do mention it, people immediately equate that to saying, “God is horrible and hates you and will kill you if things don’t go His way”, if that was the case most wouldn’t be around. God has been and is being very patient with each of us, but there will be a day when He will show His wrath. I thought to myself, too many people think God is a pushover, just rainbows and butterflies & pumpkin spice lattes.
Yes, God does love us, this is a truth that cannot be refuted, but He will not be mocked. If we’re even able to begin to scratch the surface of understanding how much He loves us our minds would be blown, and hopefully one would be moved to repentance. Hopefully many can be moved to live their lives in service to one who loves us so much He sent His son to die for us, to save us, even whilst we were still in our sins. He didn’t require we be perfected before He could send His Son to lay down His life for us, no He did it anyway, because of His unconditional love.
God indeed is loving and just. Those who chose to be defiant and disobey His way He intends to judge. God intends on judging each person according to their works, Revelation 22:12. Have we been taking God too lightly? It is written, “…work out your salvation in trembling and fear.” Philippians 2:12 nkjv. (TREMBLING & FEAR) who is doing that exactly? The man with the gun is feared, many fear the leaders of their country, folks are afraid of the police, folks are afraid of terrorists, some are afraid of speaking in public, but only a few truly fear God. In Mathew 10:28 nkjv, Jesus said, “And fear not him who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. Even Jesus preached about fearing God, this wasn’t something Christians came up with to frighten people into salvation or to paint a marred picture of God, fearing God is commanded.
Unlike fearing man, it profits you to fear God. What will it profit me if I fear God? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”, Proverbs 9:10 nkjv. “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.”, Ecclesiastes 7:12 nkjv.
Some examples of Gods wrath and judgment as recorded throughout biblical history:
Genesis 7. The story of Noah and the ark, a lot of us became familiar with that story in Sunday school, but not many of us were able to really comprehend the significance of that story. God destroyed the entire earth with a flood, only 8 lives were spared. Think about it, out of the many people who lived all over the face of the earth only 8 lives were spared. God was still a God of love then, but the wickedness on the earth had to be punished. Out of love He spared eight souls, and a pair of every animal He created on the face of the earth.
Genesis 19. God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two cities filled with people and only Lot and his family were spared. Not even ten righteous were found in two cities. Many believe those cities were destroyed primarily because of homosexuality, in fact, many don’t even say anything beyond that when talking about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, all they say is that gay people were there and God destroyed them because of that. It’s the usual reference many go to when talking about the rewards of homosexuality if it doesn’t cease. God has never destroyed an entire city (ever) because of a single act of iniquity. Although homosexuality was indeed occurring in those cities, it was not the sole reason they were destroyed.
In the book of Ezekiel God explained why He destroyed Sodom. Ezekiel 16:49-50 nkjv, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom; She and her daughter had a price, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.” This is what Ezekiel was commanded by God to tell the people in Jerusalem. One of the things that stick out to me in that scripture is when God said, “..therefore I took them away as I say fit”, that alone speaks volumes about God. God is sovereign, He does as He wills, not as you will. If there is unrighteousness He will judge it, if there is iniquity He will judge it, not the way you would like, but just as He sees fit.
How many cities today are doing what was committed in Sodom and Gommorah, how many cities are much worse than that. In the book of Ezekiel it is even said that Jerusalem became worse than Sodom in their iniquity. Imagine being told that your city is worst than those two cities that were infamously destroyed because of their abundance of evil. A very grimm future to look forward to if you live in a place that have leaders that are determined to sanction things that go against God’s laws. God’s judgment had not ended there however. God commanded Lot’s family not to look back once they fled the city, but Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. Ouch!
Exodus 12:31 God freed the Hebrews from Egypt, but although they had seen God’s power in Egypt; although they had seen the Red Sea part and crossed through it and witnessed the Egyptians in hot pursuit perish in it, they did not enter the promise land. Although they had eaten manna from heaven, although they had been covered by God with a cloud by day and a fire by night, that generation still did not enter into the promise land, because of their disobedience they experienced God’s wrath.
Deuteronomy 3:23-29 shows that not even Moses entered the land promised. In Joshua 3, the fourth generation of Hebrews finally entered the land promised, as was prophesied in Genesis 15:16, God told Abraham that it would be the fourth generation. Do not take this as to say God did not keep His covenant since the generation that left Egypt did not enter, on the contrary, He kept His word and the Hebrews did enter, in spite of what the others did, God kept His word to His people. Four generations later, after forty years of wondering, the Hebrews led by Joshua finally entered the land God had promised them. Would they have entered much sooner if they had trusted in God, not allowing their hearts to return to Egypt? Yes, they would have entered, but out of rebellion in their hearts they were left to wonder until those generations passed away. During those days the Hebrews witnessed more of the wrath of God.
In the book Numbers chapter 11, the people complained about only eating manna so God sent quail, so much quail that when it came from the sea it was about two cubits above the surface, that’s approximately 36 inches. It was all around the camp. “…and the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers)..” Ten homers is about 12 to 20 bushels in modern day measurements. “.and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving”.
God brought those people out of bondage in Egypt and literally their food fell from the sky. They had water coming from rocks, yet they still were ungrateful, so they experienced God’s wrath. Many of us when we read these stories we think to ourselves, “They were foolish, I wouldn’t never have done any of that if I had witnessed those wonders and signs, I would have obeyed Him.” Why would you have to see certain signs and wonders in order to obey God? “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet of Jonah” Matthew 12:39 nkjv. How many of us are still rebelling and doing far worse than those set for our example. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe” John 20:29 kjv. God is searching for ones to serve Him in Spirit and in truth. John 4:23. You should believe and obey even if you haven’t seen what they saw, this is who God seeks. As believers our faith is what sets us apart from those who saw and still did not believe, and those who are trying to justify themselves by the law, the ones seeking their own righteousness.
Numbers 16. The story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the rebellion they orchestrated against Moses and Aaron. These guys were just haters to be honest, they’re kind of like some people we all can relate to having known at one time or the other. These guys in this story are like persons that just see everything good going for you or see that you have been given an important position in your company or church or local bowling team and their just jealous it’s not them getting all the attention, so they want to try and mess everything up, by causing everyone to lose trust in you. If they could get you fired they would.
Moses and Aaron weren’t seeking glory for themselves, like many who have been given gifts or talents from God tend to do, no, Aaron and Moses simply were being obedient and through their obedience and humility they were commended by God and the people listened to them because they knew that God placed them in charge. Oh, let me not forget to mention, Korah were sons of Levi so they had an important position as well, but that wasn’t enough they wanted to be the big bosses running the show. Sounds like anyone you guys know?
These guys started disrespecting Moses straight out. Moses sent for them and they didn’t bother to come. Korah and their households were swallowed up into the ground and the earth closed over them, and all who were with Korah perished that day. “..All who were around them fled at their cry, for they said ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also'”. Numbers 16:28-34. But God wasn’t done yet, “..a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.” Numbers 16:35.
Acts 5. The story of Annanias and Sapphira is one of the most popular stories in the New Testament. This story has a warning to those who think they can deceive God. Seriously God is everywhere, I don’t know why anybody at any point could possibly think there is something they can hide from Him. He can read our minds and hearts, He knows all that will be, during our lives and after, He was here from the beginning of time, He’s the creator of time. One of my favorite scriptures is in Isaiah 43:13 where God say’s, “Yes, before the day was, I am He.” It was His Spirit that hovered over the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2. “For of Him, and through Him and to Him, to Whom be glory forever, amen.” Romans 11:36.
It would be unwise to think one can deceive God. Even Satan that devil, knows God cannot be deceived, guess nobody gave Annanias and Sapphira the heads up. They of all people should know that God watches and knows all things, they were believers after all. They lied to the Holy Spirit when they were asked if they had given all the money they sold their land for. They withheld some and gave the rest as to appear as kind as the others who had property and sold it to help others in need, but God had seen all of it go down, yet Annanias and his wife still lied and were struck dead on the spot, the very second they lied about what they did.
Annanias and Sapphira died instantly, the very second the lie left their lips! Don’t you want to thank God right now for His grace and mercy, because if that still happened today, I doubt anybody would be alive to be reading this, I doubt I would even be writing this, I doubt the computer or internet would have gotten invented because those guys would have been dead or never even born because their parents would have been struck dead. We’ve all told a little white lie, or any kind of lie before, yet here we are still alive, Gods mercy and grace is indeed amazing and He is worthy to be praised.
The biggest example I can think of to let you understand God’s wrath is when He allowed the Chaldeans to take the Israelite’s into captivity in Babylon. These were God’s chosen people, but they went astray, they always went astray in their hearts, Hebrews 3:10. God suffered long. He sent prophet after prophet to warn them because of His love, you can read of it in Ezekiel and many other books in the Old Testament, but they still did not listen. He loved His people so much He kept a remnant, He did not destroy all, He gave them a choice to save their lives yet again by telling them to allow the Chaldeans to take them into to captivity, although they would be slaves they would be alive and God promised eventually they would return back to their home as free men, but many did not listen and were destroyed by famine, pestilence and the sword.
It is important to fear and love God, fearing Him is profitable, but not only fear Him because of what you may profit, but because He is worth and it is commanded. God has yet again given us an opportunity to save our lives, by losing it we save it, meaning if you want to gain what God has in store for those who love Him you must be willing to deny yourselves the things in this life that are keeping you away from eternal life, Matthew 16:25. God out of His immeasurable love has been suffering long with this world not wanting any to perish, 2 Peter 3:9, but the Day of Judgment is still ahead, we must take God seriously in His promises (fear and trembling) because it is not to be counted as slack, a thousand years is but a day with Him and a day is a thousand years. 2 Peter 3:9
“For whatever things we’re written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”, Romans 15:4 nkjv.