"God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness."
-Freda Hanbury Allen

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Consuming Fire

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
                                                    Hebrews 12:28-29

        God does not change, and neither does his Word. Likewise, his design for the hearts of his people has not changed over all the centuries, eras, and epochs of time. Worship, in Spirit and in Truth, has been his banner call ever since he created Adam and Eve. He created mankind to not only worship, but enjoy him to the very depths of who he is - to know, appreciate, and fall madly in love with his heart.
         We are familiar with the scene in the wilderness, perhaps uncomfortably so, where the people of God stood at the foot of the mountain and God spoke through the fire, darkness, and storm. The people of God trembled and begged that God cease to speak, for surely if they remained in his fierce, overwhelming presence they would be consumed. They pleaded that God retreat and continue His message to Moses alone. Tragically, God's people didn't carry the reverence and awe with them, but rather turned to what we are so prone to do. They re-fashioned God in an image of their own making.
         There is something about the raw, untamed presence of God arriving in darkness and storm that appalls us and creates in us almost a sense of revulsion. We become afraid, and almost angry. It is our tendency to want a god we can manage, one that we can explain, and certainly one we can approach with a sense of equality - if not superiority. We fear mystery, we question authority, we demand answers and grumble and complain, just like Israel, when none are forthcoming. Yet, we inherently know we are small and so very incapable of managing on our own. We are ensnared in a trap of our own making.
         Nothing about God has changed. He is still "a consuming fire."  It is the people of God who have changed, or rather, have been changed. Before the mountain of God, the people of Israel essentially asked for a mediator when they asked God to speak to Moses instead of directly to them. They could not stay exposed in the raging presence of God. God, in his grace, answered their request and retreated with Moses, to provide a picture of what he was planning to do. Two thousand years later he sent the Perfect Mediator to speak to all of mankind out of the relentless storm of his Love. It was then that God arrived; not in darkness and storm, but in flesh and blood. Jesus came, and by his blood he has changed us. Fear does not consume us because we do not come approaching a fiery mountain, but rather are invited into the beautiful, consuming fire that we can now call "Abba, Father".
          Can there be any other response to the fiery, all-consuming love of our mysterious, yet familiar Father than love and gratitude, reverence and awe? When we catch a glimpse of the terrifying Mystery on the mountain in the wilderness and then gaze upon the blood-soaked cross, what else is there to do but be consumed, and fall utterly in love with his wild, yet tender heart. This is His loving desire for us, this is our created purpose and this is the white-hot passion of true worship.    

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