The Consuming Fire

Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire.

— Hebrews 12:28-29

Even Moses, the man of God, was not ready to receive the revelation in store; not ready, although from love to his people he prayed that God would even blot him out of his book of life. It seems the utterance of a divine despair: he would not survive the children of his people. He did not care for a love that would save him alone, and send to the dust those thousands of calf-worshipping brothers and sisters. Certainly when God told him that he that had sinned should suffer for it, Moses could not see that this was the kindest thing that God could do. How much could Moses have understood, if he had seen the face instead of the back of that form which passed the cleft of the rock amidst the thunderous vapors of Sinai? Had that form turned and that face looked upon him, the face of him who was more man than any man; the face through which the divine emotion would, in the ages to come, manifest itself to the eyes of men; bowed, it might well be, at such a moment, in anticipation of the crown with which the children of the people for whom Moses pleaded with his life, would one day crown him; the face of him who was bearing and was yet to bear their griefs and carry their sorrows, who is now bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows; the face of the Son of God, who instead of accepting the sacrifice of one of his creatures to satisfy his justice or support his dignity, gave himself utterly unto them, and therein to the Father by doing his lovely will; who suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their suffering might be like his, and lead them up to his perfection.


by Earle Canty

As we discussed the MacDonald text for this day, My Beloved Wife asked a very provocative question.  Luke 22:61 captures the moment after Peter denies the Lord for the third time.  When Jesus looked at Peter, what was His countenance, and what message did it convey to Peter?  In his commentary written nearly three centuries ago, Matthew Henry suggests that Jesus’s look had six attributes: it was a convincing look; it was a chiding look, it was an expostulating, upbraiding look, it was a compassionate look; it was a directing look; and it was a significant look.  The two that stand out are the compassionate look and the significant look.  Jesus was lovingly telling Peter that he needed to repent for what he had done, and that, through repentance, his heart would be changed by the Power of God.

Isaiah tells us in verse 53:3 that the Messiah was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  The Son of God was intimately familiar with the nature of man.  He had observed man’s sinful behavior since the Fall (nearly three thousand years), and He had seen how fickle man behaved.  He understood that man was completely incapable of living a life in accordance with the Father’s will; the free will that God bestowed on the apex of His creation would always come between the father’s will and man’s will.

We are surrounded by idols that change with the times and change with our individual age.  Some idols, perhaps many, we don’t even recognize.  Our challenge is to not only accept this truth intellectually, but also to accept it in our hearts.  We must be grief stricken and filled with sorrow that we don’t fully embrace the Father’s will, not in a way that incapacitates us, but in a way that exhorts us to yield our will to His will and causes us to do whatever it takes.  We need to understand the we cannot do this in our own strength, and need to regularly pray for His help and His strength.   But be wary, because these are the prayers that God loves to answer.  Have you ever prayed for humility?  Every time I pray for humility, He faithfully answers my prayer. Typically, my reaction to His answer is – Why did I utter that request?  I know that He will answer, my ego will be damaged, and I will resist uttering that prayer for a while (sometimes, a long while).  But, if I am genuinely interested in growing to be more like Christ, frequent utterance of this prayer is essential.

What would Moses have seen if God had shown him His face rather than His back?  We can only guess, but a good guess would be that Moses would have seen a look that conveyed the same things as Jesus’s look at Peter.  We should also recognize that this look is the same as the looks He has for each of us as we battle with our idols and disobedience to His will.