I have one child. Not many people are bold enough to ask me why because it’s a touchy subject. You don’t know if I’m experiencing pain in that area and you don’t want to poke at it, or you don’t know if I’ll think your question carries judgment and I’ll respond with a snarky comment about my right to my choice. Either way, we’ve all learned from experience it’s best not to ask questions where the answer can be an emotional minefield.
But it’s okay. You can ask me. In fact, I’ll tell you. I wanted four children. It didn’t work, and yes, it was painful. Month after month, my body betrayed me and my desperate desire continued to grow. I went to see a fertility doctor and after several months and rounds of test, we were told we were incapable of having a baby – despite our having had a successful pregnancy (anomaly, they said). I was devastated. I was mad. Mad at my body. Mad at my Man. Mad at my having to give up a desire. And I was mad at God. Why would He surprise me twice (I also miscarried), make me change my plans, make me hope for a family and then deny me.
I started to believe God intended to give me a bigger family, and this was a test. I played mindgames with God. (Believe me, it doesn’t work.) I was determined to achieve my plan; my desire for another child consumed me. It was all I thought about.
Putting it All in the Fire
One day during worship on a Sunday morning, the words of the song read something like, “I surrender my desires to your Consuming Fire.” I stopped. I couldn’t sing those words. I realized I was being consumed by my desire for a baby more than anything else – more than I wanted God. It had become an idol. It was a moment of horrible realization; followed by months, and months of repentance as God began to become my Consuming Fire.
Consuming Fire Isn't Ambiguous
The Lord is introduced as a Consuming Fire in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is Moses’ last hurrah, if you will, before the people enter the Promised Land. He’s reminding them who they are, and who they belong to. He’s teaching them (again) how to live in view of those two things when they enter the Promised Land.
Moses called him a Consuming Fire (Deut 4:24) because He is a jealous God. There is no hidden meaning in the term. Consuming Fire isn’t ambiguous – it really means a fire that consumes. It eats, it slays, it destroys, and it burns up. God will not share His Glory; He’ll burn up anything that is set up as an idol. He is a Consuming Fire.
Fighting Your Battles
The Consuming Fire also goes before them and devours their enemies; the ones who stand in the way of their receiving their inheritance.
Joshua and Caleb were the only leaders who took possession in the Promised Land. Why? Because they had confidence God would give it to them. Numbers 14:8, “…He will bring us into this land…[do not] fear the people…for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.” It didn’t matter they were warned there were enemies bigger and stronger than they in the land. God is a Consuming Fire and He would destroy their enemy.
Time and again, the Bible shares story after story of God fighting the enemy – like a fire wipes out the forest, God wipes out our enemy. Who can forget Jericho? What did the people do? Did they fight? No, they walked in a circle. What about Gideon? How big was his army? 300?
The beautiful gospel is that God, the Consuming Fire is still fighting our battles, so that we too, may take possession of our inheritance, which is the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is Consumed, too
Jesus was consumed by something too…zeal for His Father’s house. John witnessed Jesus in the temple, throwing out the crooked sellers. Jesus, who was so full of love, seemed to suddenly become violent – throwing around tables and money. Jesus might have looked like we look when we are consumed with something – eyes wild, passionate, and ready to attack anything that threatened it. The disciples remembered Psalmist’s words, “Zeal for Your house consumes me.” (Psalm 69:9) His Father’s house is meant for holiness, and nothing less would satisfy.
There is a benefit to forest fires; despite the devastation, some types of seeds need a fire to release the seed inside themselves. What happened after the Consuming Fire destroyed their enemies? They took possession of the Promised Land. What happens once the Consuming Fire burns up our idols? It leaves available the only spot God is willing to occupy in our lives.
Consuming Fire is Active
The Consuming Fire is on the move in this season, among believers around the world. I see evidence of this by the increased sales of a flag pair called Consuming Fire. Most of the 70+ flag choice amount to less than 3% of my overall yearly sales, but not Consuming Fire flags. For the past 3 years in a row, God is at work, consuming what threatens to replace Him as Lord, and consuming our enemies. He wants us to have possession of the Kingdom of heaven, our inheritance. And He’s ramping up – all over the world.
God is a Consuming Fire because He is holy. He burns up anything unholy. He will not share your worship or passion, nor will he allow anything to stand in the way of your inheritance.
Dear one, what is God consuming in your life? If someone or something is in your top spot, repent. If you need an enemy removed so you can take possession of the Kingdom, which is your inheritance, stand aside and let the Consuming Fire devour it. Finally, let what consumes Him, also consume you; be zealous for His church.