Questions for Littles: Who is a consuming fire? Whose God is He?In this week’s sermon text, we were reminded that it is no small thing to approach God in worship. The concluding verse of that text alludes to three places in Scripture to remind us that the glory of worship is actually the glory of the living God Himself.
The first place to which it alludes is Sinai. We know this of course, because it is the nearest conflagration of fire to our passage, being mentioned earlier in the passage. But whether at the time of the ten commandments, or earlier in Moses’s experience of the bush, there is one detail that tells us that these are not the primary allusion here: in neither of those Sinai fires did the Lord actually consume what was on fire.
The second place that this “consuming fire” image takes us is the whole burnt offering. It was the first and primary offering in the system of worship that the Lord had commanded under the Mosaic covenant. You couldn’t have any other kind of worship without the offering in which the entire bull would be entirely burnt by a fire whose intensity would have to be achieved to accomplish that.
But, just as the bull is an inferior substitute as a glimpse of Christ, so also the burnt offering’s consuming fire is an inferior substitute as a glimpse of the wrath of God. How great and consuming is the wrath of God, and it is every bit as central to His character as love is! We love to quote 1John 4:8, “God is love.” How much do we love to quote Hebrews 12:29, “God is wrath.” Our God is a consuming fire!
And how much more amazing is His love to us now than it was before we began to grasp that truth?
The third, and most pointed, place to which this verse points us is Leviticus 10 and the cautionary demise of Nadab and Abihu. Consecrated priests, on a consecrated day, using consecrated pans, to offer consecrated incense. What could be wrong about that?
One thing: God had not told them to perform this act of worship. God calls it strange fire, and goes on to explain what made it strange, “which He had not commanded them” (Lev 10:1). Now, consider vv2-3 in light of the passage before us this week:
“So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ”
Oh, dear reader, how necessary it is that we remember the divine simplicity. Our God is who He is—not in parts or pieces but a glorious divine simplicity. So when we come to Him, let us come to Him in the manner appropriate to His nature as love and His nature as a consuming fire!
How do God’s holiness and wrath magnify His grace to you? How does this affect how we worship?Suggested Songs: ARP7B “God Is My Shield” or HB11 “Holy, Holy, Holy!”