Our God is a Consuming Fire

April 21, 2023

I heard a radio advertisement the other day inviting people to visit a church in this area. In the ad, the preacher happily announced that God is just like your dog—loyal, good-natured, and friendly to the end. This seeming lack of reverence smacked me right in the face. God is not like your dog! Our God is a consuming fire!

I fear that the people of God have developed an unbalanced picture of Him. We need to understand both the kindness and severity of God. (Romans 11:22) The fear of God is very necessary and helpful for us. It was greatly beneficial for the children of Israel in the time of Moses. They were struck with fear when the Lord came down to Mount Sinai to give the Law, as we read in the book of Exodus: “So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.” (Exodus 19:16-19 NASB95)

Can you imagine the fear that must have gripped the Israelites as the entire mountain smoked and quaked? Can you picture yourself there and feel the reverence and awesome respect for God Almighty? Can you see the benefit of such a fear of the Lord? The people said to Moses, “‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:19-20 NASB95) The fear of the Lord is necessary because it will keep us from sin. Of course, those walking faithfully with Christ do not need to fear the punishment of God, but we still must have an awesome respect for who He is. We must understand His hatred of sin. We must have a healthy dread of displeasing the One who holds our lives, and the entire universe in His hands.

We need to remember that the God that we read about in the time of Moses is the same God that we serve today. The covenant may have changed, but God has not changed. Do we realize who it is that we are dealing with? Do we realize who is speaking to us? We need to approach the throne with reverence and with awe this Lord’s Day, “for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)

—Scott Colvin

Entering into the Presence of God

December 7, 2021

In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, we read this: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matthew 27:50-51a NASB) The veil of the temple was a large, thick curtain that physically separated the “holy of holies” from the rest of the temple.  The holy of holies was the innermost sanctuary of the temple.  Our Almighty God, Himself, filled the holy of holies with His presence and glory as He appeared in a cloud above the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant.  The veil served a very important purpose and signified something we need to understand:  God is Holy!  You cannot come casually into His presence in whatever way you please!  Only the high priest could go behind the veil, only once per year, and only after taking the blood of goats and calves which he would offer for his own sins and the sins of the people. If the high priest entered behind the veil without first being consecrated, as God prescribed, He would surely die (Leviticus 16:1-2).  No one can come into the presence of God without first being made holy. 

What a shock it must have been to the people of that day when the veil was torn in two from top to bottom.  Why did this happen?  What did it have to do with the death of Jesus?  There is profound significance in the tearing of the veil, as we are told in Hebrews chapter 10: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh…” (Hebrews 10:19-20 NASB).  The tearing of the veil signified that you and I can go into the very presence of our Holy God with confidence.  We can enter the true throne room of God in Heaven!   There is no longer any separation between Him and us!  We can draw near to Him!  This is all because of the blood of Jesus.  God made the way for us to come into His presence through the death of Jesus.

We need to understand that when the church assembles together for worship, we are entering into the presence of our Almighty God.  Have you considered this fact?  How should we respond to this spiritual reality?  “Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NASB)     

—Scott Colvin

Fear of God?

September 20, 2019

Should we talk about the fear of God? Isn’t the love of God all that we need? I’m convinced just as Paul taught the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), we must too. If we are to be balanced in Christian living we need to understand what the fear of God does for us. And yes, when we talk about “fear,” we are also talking about reverence. But we must not forget that when talking about God we are talking about one who is other than us and greater, far greater, than us. Here’s a list of the positives that come from the fear of God.

Wisdom and Understanding
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV) cf. Psalm 1:7

Avoidance of Evil
“By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6 ESV)

Prolongs Life
“The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” (Proverbs 10:27 ESV) cf. Proverbs 14:27, 19:23

“The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4 ESV)

Perfecting Holiness
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV)

Motive for Evangelism
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” (2 Corinthians 5:10–11a, ESV)

Built Up, Comforted, Growing
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31 ESV)

Acceptable Worship/Service
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29 ESV)

— Russ Holden