|- Ray & Doris Prinzing -
"Our God is a consuming fire." [Hebrews 12:29].
"And not yet has it been made visible what we shall be. We know absolutely that whenever it is made visible, like ones to Him we shall be, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as that One is pure." [1 John 3:2-3, Wuest].
AS HE IS-the word "IS," a verb form indicative of the verb BE, which refers to a state of being, for IS serves as a connecting verb meaning, TO COINCIDE IN IDENTITY WITH. Oh to see Him as He is, and to become identified in His state of being. What a tremendous vision the holy Spirit unfolds, and while it staggers the imagination, yet the heart can cry out, whatever GOD has purposed, may it be fulfilled in us according to the riches of His grace given us in Christ Jesus.
"It is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was designed by God― that the world which we can see is operating on principles that are invisible." [Hebrews 11:3, Phillips]. It is a hidden work, wrought in the "inner man," invisible for the most part to those who would try and see what "fruitage" they can discover as the result of our vision. But there is a CHANGE being wrought in God's chosen, and in His own time HE shall pull back the veil, removing this present veil of flesh, to then manifest HIS SONS, who shall be identified in His substance, which is spirit; identified in His state of being, which is oneness; identified in His form and expression, which is light in all of its ascending vibratory manifestations; and to be identified in HIS ENERGY FORCE OF FIRE.
FIRE― holds within its nature an invisible principle, we can tell about it in its action and mannerisms, but to completely define it, leaves one at a loss. It has been stated however, in a scientific writing, that FIRE RESTORES ALL THINGS TO ITS ORIGINAL STATE. This we rejoice in, and how we desire to be identified in that energy force which is restoring all into its original state, and developing it to its highest potential in God's purpose.
Deity is manifested through FIRE, as kinetic energy (energy on the move) , which is coordinated with equilibrium of BALANCE which is the CENTRE between every pair of opposites, to stand unchanged and unmoved between the absolute and the conditional, between the finite and the infinite. Jesus Christ must be, for us, the SUPREME CENTRE, to provide for us that perfect BALANCE AND HARMONY in all things. He alone can control the divine interplay between good and evil, or between whatever the two opposites are. He is able to move in both the negative and positive realms, and yet blend them together to work out His own purpose, and bring it to full victory without permanent loss or destruction.
Fire, in its manifestation, is closely linked to light, but it is also balanced in its operation by the ONENESS OF GOD, and is not divided in its work, part to do evil, and part to do good, for IN HIM EVERY THING WORKS INTO GOOD. It is only when He allows a temporary perversion of fire that it brings forth a certain negative consequence. But even this is ultimately used to work out HIS purpose. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." [Psalm 76:10]. He restrains all that will not serve to work out His purpose, and ultimately redound to His praise. What, for a time, seems to be working only evil, shall ultimately be turned into good, else He simply does not allow it to exist. He controls all! HE IS GOD!
Our usual thought of fire, and especially under the false, traditional concepts of "everlasting hell fire," was that it was a purely negative force, working only for evil and destruction. But God is not divided in Himself, He is a consuming fire, and not with a dual nature, for He is ONE― His action of fire towards the believer is for purification and restoration. His action of fire towards an unbeliever is for the same purpose, conditioning and preparing that one for good results, when, having been purged of all selfhood's rebellion, they bow and receive Christ as their Saviour. THE FIRE DOES NOT SAVE THEM, it helps to prepare them for His salvation, but JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOUR, and no man cometh unto the Father except through this One who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
"Our God is a consuming fire." The word "consuming" from the Greek word "katanalisko" meaning TO USE UP UTTERLY. Heretofore we have been too carnal to have been entrusted with very much of this energy force of God, for like the disciples, we would have been tempted to misuse the fire. And when His disciples, James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and CONSUME them, even as Elias did?" [LUKE 9:54]. And Jesus told them that they knew not what spirit they were of, to want to use God's energy force for destructive purposes only. In due time, those who were not following Christ, as the disciples observed, will probably be dealt with BY FIRE, but not for the purpose of destruction, but for purification and ultimate restoration. HE will consume all the rebellion of self, saving the sinner, but removing the sin. There is a blessed control in His nature of love, so that He will consume what needs to be consumed, but will also build and restore the one thus being dealt with so severely, even by His process of fire.
"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not CONSUMED one of another." [Galatians 5:5]. How much of our fiery indignation towards others in the past was only to consume them, but not for the purpose of seeing them brought out of their present state, purified and lifted into a higher realm? "If any of you do err from the truth, and one CONVERT him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." [James 5:19-20]. Praise the Lord!
The third usage of the word "consume" as found in the scriptures, is in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall CONSUME with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." Here is a very interesting factor, when man, in his carnality would use fire, and try to consume, it works negative results, but when GOD moves upon the scene, to consume the evil, it works into a glorious purpose of GOOD. When the Lord comes to deal with all of the anti-christ system, and the anti-christ spirit which usurps position, HE shall CONSUME with the Spirit of His mouth. Now, if this word "consume" meant to utterly annihilate, then the following statement of the verse would be useless, for it reads on, "AND shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." One cannot "destroy" something which has already been consumed in the sense of being annihilated. The word "destroy" used here means TO MAKE OF NONE EFFECT. You cannot make of "none effect" something which no longer exists. Therefore we must examine this a bit closer to comprehend the scope of its meaning.
The Hebrew word for "consuming" as used in connection with this, from the Old Testament references, is "akal" meaning TO EAT, DEVOUR. This speaks of a whole process of ABSORBING INTO ONESELF, not an annihilation, but to change its form completely, and ill the case of fire, restoring back to rightness. When Jesus comes upon an individual, as a consuming fire, it is to absorb INTO HIMSELF all of that which was out of harmony with His purpose and character, and to restore all such elements back into good. HE ABSORBS US INTO HIS LIFE, and while we do lose our own self-life, in all of its ego-rebellion, we find that we have a NEW LIFE on a much higher plane, fulfilled in HIS MORE ABUNDANT LIFE.
Now, all processes of development in the Word are connected with fire, for all sacrifices were accompanied with fire, and perfection is promised through fire. Our whole concept and attitude need to be changed, girded up to the truth, so that we can view fire for its positive aspects, and not just according to the negative viewpoints we have held in the past.
In the study of fire itself, we find that fire works through combustion, which is a PROCESS ACCOMPANIED BY THE EVOLUTION OF LIGHT AND HEAT. Praise God, this easily relates to the spiritual process whereof we speak. In our present state, subject to the bondage of vanity, on this grossly material plane, we are moving on a very low vibratory level. But as the fire of God works in us, it raises us to higher degrees and planes of light, that we may "walk in the light, as He is in the light." Wherein then is the loss? We only lose our carnal mind, that we might possess HIS MIND, and we exchange the realm of darkness for the realm of light.
"From sinking sand, He lifted me,
With tender hands, He lifted me,
From shades of night to planes of light,
0, praise His name, He lifted me."
The most familiar of all the processes of fire, is when the Oxygen of the atmosphere combines with the combustible material. Oxygen is a beautiful type of the Spirit. Introduce the SPIRIT OF GOD into any given situation, and He will burn out all the dross and restore back into pure spirit form again. Now, sometimes we pray for the Lord to hasten His work within us, but let it be remembered, the more rapid the combustion, the greater the heat! We would like to be changed into His image, but we don't like all the intense heat of the tremendous fiery transition.
"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring (consuming) fire? Who among us shall dwell with the everlasting (age-abiding) burning?" [Isaiah 33:14].
Nevertheless, we rejoice to know that FIRE IS REMEDIAL IN ITS PURPOSE!
"For everyone shall be salted (seasoned) with fire." [Mark 9:49]. Or as the Moffatt translation gives, "Everyone has to be consecrated by the fire of discipline."
That which has been thoroughly processed by the fire, need fear the fire no more, for once the dross is gone, only the form is changed to higher degress. Solids become fluid, liquids become vapour, and as we go through the fiery trials, it is only to bring us into a higher SPIRITIZED STATE OF BEING, where we shall redound to the praise and glory of God.
"And the sight (appearance) of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring (consuming) fire... in the eyes of the children of Israel." [Exodus 24: 17].
When HE shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. The climax of the fire-process, as He comes suddenly to His temple, shall reveal us in a new state of being, truly to become the glory of the Lord. And remember, beloved friend, if we are not being changed by degrees now, through every day and its allotted travail, we will not want to see Him when He appears, for His appearance is like a consuming fire, and we will not be ready to endure the full force thereof in one climactic moment. But if we are now BEING CHANGED from glory to glory, then His coming to us will be the rightful climactic conclusion to the process which has been working in us up to that moment.
There shall be a tremendous climax to this long transitional process, and He shall have HIS OWN prepared for that day, while the rest shall not, yea, durst not behold Him until they likewise have been fully prepared.
There are some specific areas which are to be dealt with by the fire, and so we shall examine them, beginning with Deuteronomy 4:15-16, 23-24. "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire. Lest ye corrupt, and make you a graven image... which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire."
Praise God, the FIRE shall utterly consume ALL ARTIFICIAL IMAGES that the true reality might remain. The combustion process brings forth light. Thus the very devouring process which works within us to bring an end to all false imagery, also works to bring forth a greater and
clearer revelation of our true God. Only fire can end the images of carnal concept and then develop the true reality. Thus, all graven images become the fuel for the fire, and as they are consumed, the energy released is used to build and birth in us the true revelations of God.
"Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of HIS IMAGERY?" [Ezekiel 8:12].
The prophet was shocked, as he was led through a hole in the wall, to behold all the creatures portrayed upon the walls, creeping things, bestial things, as in the chambers of their imagery they corrupted their concepts of God. "Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgot God their Saviour..." [Psalm 106:20-21].
Man, who was to be in the image and glory of God, has so perverted and distorted that image in his own concept, that it has brought him to utter disgrace and humiliation. One cannot change GOD'S GLORY, for He is truly unchangeable, but we, who are to become the expressions of His glory, can become exceedingly corrupt and perverted. Man is to become AS HIS GOD, and if your God is only an OX, or a creeping thing, then that is what you are to become, to be as your God is. 0, how we need the fire to cleanse our imagery, so that we might have a true revelation of our God, and then what we are to become as we become ONE IN HIM.
Christendom has had a very limited concept of God, and so has been their redemption. The more we limit God, the more we limit our own change. Praise HIM, all the many distorted caricatures of our God, of His purpose, of His grace, of His love, all shall be made to pass through the fire, until all the distortions shall be consumed, their burning heat to only be used to bring forth a new vision, that adequate revelation of HIS CENTRAL SUPREMACY, which will balance everything previously distorted.
Next, we read, "Who can stand before the children of Anak! ―as a consuming fire HE shall destroy them..." [Deuteronomy 9:2-3].
Anak― meaning, giant, or long-necked. Thus the children, the offspring, the fears and doubts, imaginations and ideas of the giants, the all-out-of-proportion, exalted flesh-ego, when dealt with by the fire, shall distress us no more. Seems we have had a lot of giants in our lives, things which were mushroomed all out of proportion, mole hills that suddenly became mountains, which produced fears and doubts and greatly distressed us. All this is the product, the offspring of the carnal mind, but the fire is able to deal with it completely, and consume the whole. Carnal imaginations will run wild no more. Supposed thoughts will not take form in us, and we will not impute sin to others, nor falsely charge them with guilt. There is no need to be-labour the point here, but if there is any thing in our lives which has become a giant to us, and we seem not to be able to overcome it, just let the fire of God handle it, and new victory will be ours.
"Nadab and Abihu ...offered strange fire before the Lord... and there went out FIRE FROM THE LORD and devoured (consumed) them." [Leviticus 10:1-2].
The consuming fire of God swallows up and takes care of all the "strange fire" of perverted desire. 0, men have offered up so much strange fire unto the Lord. How often we have seen these strange fires ― "Lord, you move and bless this work, etc." when what was really meant was that they wanted God to bless THEIR work, to help build THEIR kingdoms, and enhance THEIR reputation. It was a fire, an energy force that was all out of balance to His true purpose and working. But we pray God to purge our desires, and bring us into that one desire, TO DO, AND BECOME HIS WILL.
Even in the matter of our daily living, we often get a fire of desire for a new car, a new house, this or that, and so we pray earnestly for them. We quote all the scriptures which say He will give us the desires of our heart, and we wrap it up with a praise by faith that He will do all that we ask, and then we present it to the Lord-a strange fire. But God is able to consume all the strange fires of fleshly desire, until we want nothing else but His perfect will, and whatever He provides for us.
I do not say that it is all wrong in itself to desire these natural things, for He does graciously provide all our earthly needs. But there is a difference in holding all these desires, even those which HE implants in us, before Him, so that they are kept pure, and not suddenly turned into coveteous desires which energize us to work day and night to obtain, and so we forget God, and have no time to serve Him. When HE puts within us some desire for a certain natural thing, then we can offer that desire right back to Him, and wait for Him to fulfill it in His own time and way, and it does not become a perverted desire, to burn as a strange fire in us. It is an interesting process to see how the FIRE OF GOD can handle all of our natural wants and wishes. The fiery trials work in us, until all these things lose their importance, and our desire for them vanishes away. This is expressed so beautifully in a verse written by a dear friend :
"Petty things of transient fancy, earthly baubles made of clay,
Seem the things I thought important in my recent yesterday,
Houses, lands and passing treasures all have taken second place,
All else fades to crumbling ashes in the beauty of Thy face."
Praise God, when all else is burned out and gone, the pure fire of a divinely implanted desire will burn on until it has developed into glorious reality. He is able to replace the perverted desire with a pure desire, and then fulfill it. God does not give you a desire for something of Himself which shall not someday be consummated in glorious reality.
"And say to the forest of the south, Hear the Word of the Lord, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour (consume) every green tree in thee, and every dry tree." [Ezekiel 20:27].
The Scripture often speaks of Israel's idolatrous worship as being under "every green tree, and upon every high hill." Thank God for the fire which shall consume every present religious program of man, and all those dead, past programs, with their hangover traditions. Now a "dry tree" still carries the form, but there is no life in it. And far, far too long have we been encumbered with the dead "forms of godliness" which have neither life nor power in them. A "green tree" still has a bit of life, and there are some present movements which even have some "spiritual life" in them, but they are man-oriented and directed, they serve to satisfy the flesh, and there is no need to become taken up with all of these GREEN TREES that we begin to sing and dance our songs beneath their branches, and forget to follow on to know the Lord in His fulness.
Often, it is well nigh impossible to see the "light of heaven" because of the denseness of the forest of tradition and carnal pride of religious men, as they exalt their little flourishing programs, which are being used of God to help some on a certain level, but which are not leading on into the deeper realities.
Seems that the more we want to come into spiritual maturity and the fulness of God, the more we battle the "dry tree" with its old forms of worship and tradition. Or we get confused by the splendor of certain "green trees" which are still with us. Then people wonder why, if God is blessing a certain thing, we do not desire to run with it, and lend it all of our support. BUT THE GOOD IS OFTEN AN ENEMY OF THE BEST, and our heart has caught a glimpse of the realities to come, so that we cannot, we dare not come into bondage under any present green tree.
There are so many dry trees, programs that have died, served their purpose and now are empty, but their dead forms still clutter up the ground. And there are plenty of green trees around yet, trees of man's planting-and methinks there is much in each of us yet which still tries to plan and direct the move of God, trying to channel the working of the Spirit according to our ideas. But the fire of God is able to consume them all, and bring us into the full outworking of the sovereign will of God. By His grace we are determined to be in that place in our spiritual development where we can readily let go of even the green trees, to follow on as the Spirit sovereignly directs our pathway. We do not condemn either the past programs, nor the present ones, what God uses He uses, but all shall pass through the fire, and anything that has been as an idolatrous worship shall be consumed. When there is nought in us left for the fire to consume, we shall become one in, and with the fire. Yes, we are a people with a purpose-and part of that purpose is to become ONE WITH HIM WHO IS A CONSUMING FIRE, so fully purified ourselves that we can become part of the fire used to restore all things to their original state. Parabolic, or mystical as this might seem to be, there is a vital truth in it, and may the Spirit of God work it to the full within each of His apprehended ones, those called to become the first fruits of His new creation, for He "maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire." [Psalm 104:4].
Consuming fire that now burns,
Devouring all the flesh that spurns
The move of God, which now returns
To fuse us into one with God.
Energy force― His power divine,
In perfect balance to align
Each soul that thou dost now refine
Into the harmony of God
Restoring to our first estate,
Thou didst become the narrow gate
Leading into the way that's straight,
For our returning into God.
Consuming fire― this we know,
That though we're caught within thy throe,
Ere thou art finished, we shall grow
Into the image of our God.
And so we do not fear thy ways,
Nor shrink from thy consuming blaze,
For thou dost turn our loss to praise
Acceptable unto our God.
A friend, and not a foe, thou art,
Thus on the altar of our heart
Remain with us, to now impart
The glor'ous triumph of our God.
Until in Christ we, too, shall be
Fulfillment of the mystery―
A living, bright reality,
Consuming fire of our God!
Writings in This Series: