Thursday, 12 November 2009

Why fire?

Last night at Pioneer People's ‘School Of The Spirit’ we were talking about ‘Encountering the consuming fire’. Sue Sinclair from ‘Community Watchmen Ministries’ gave us an excellent talk, and no she’s not affiliated to the Watchmen comic books! During our discussion time someone in the small group with me asked the question “Why does God use fire so often to represent his presence?” or words to that effect. We came up with a few glib off-the-cuff answers but it started me pondering further. I may return to this subject another day but I thought I’d share some thoughts so far.

We often think of the fire of God representing the consumption of the ‘flesh’ and that is certainly one thing we should embrace, scary as it may seem. We are called to die to ourselves and live fully in the spirit. The Old Testament animal sacrifices were burnt utterly to destroy the carcass of the animal, sometimes with natural human fire at other times with a supernatural intervention such as Elijah’s water-logged offering during his contest with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel or when Solomon dedicated the temple. This use of fire symbolises the extent to which our natural ‘fleshy’ desires, ambitions, thought-patterns and will need to be submitted to the loving will of our heavenly Father and while I’m certainly not there fully I am working on it!

However it’s not this fire I’ve been thinking about. We have our cultural goggles on so tightly we often struggle to see the world through the eyes of the people who actually lived these Bible stories and one thing we easily forget is that in those pre-industrial times fire was the only game in town! We have electric lights in every room using filament bulbs or energy efficient ones, fancy miniature halogen 12v lighting, side lights, up-lighters, chandeliers, fluorescent tube lights you name it we’ve got them. We have gas-fires, electric fires, central heating, under-floor heating, cavity wall and loft insulation, electric blankets and thermal underwear. We have microwaves, gas cookers, electric cookers and AGAs. From Adam and Eve to the children of Israel leaving Egypt, from King Solomon in his splendour to Jesus camping out with his disciples under the stars if you wanted light indoors or after sun-down you needed fire. If you wanted to stay warm, not just for comfort but to stay alive in wintertime, you needed fire. If you wanted to eat something other than fruit and berries then you needed fire. If you needed to scare away wild beasts while you slept then you needed to sleep near the fire. Fire was life. Maybe that’s why God uses fire to represent his presence; because without His spirit, without that fire, we’re unable to see where we’re going, we grow cold, we go hungry (as the Bible is just an old book without the Spirit breathing life into it for us), we’re vulnerable to attack and we won’t live very long.

Praise God that the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit is available to all believers, so take some time to draw near to the fire. It’ll save your life.

1 comment:

  1. thats great that guys! Its definately helpful to see that the Holy Spirit is Life to us, especially in these times when we are guilty of having God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Bible as the trinity and often the HS doesnt get a look in! He lives within us, the HS the fire, the LIFE! He is not the third person of the trinity because he is not as significant as the other two but because HE is revealed to us thirdly in the word!