“The LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deut.4:24, Heb.12:29)
Chucking combustible things on the fire is to watch them being consumed, after which naught is left save ashes. And it is because we are so aware of this, that the Bible verse strikes sheer terror into the hearts of men, thinking that if we are condemned as sinners we shall likewise be consumed.
Those who espouse the concept of an everlasting hell-fire do not think this way. They believe that we are not consumed, but remain alive to be tortured forever more. This is an even more terrifying concept than being utterly consumed. How does the Bible resolve this problem? Are there indicators to show us exactly what God intended when He said that He was a consuming fire?
First of all, notice that God is also a “jealous God”. How can He be jealous if He decides to “consume” us? God is jealous of us because He created us, died for us, and redeemed us. He cares for us. Such is the meaning of jealousy. It is therefore necessary to understand the “consuming” in some other way than utter destruction.
If we stand near a raging furnace we find the heat unbearable. And by the “inverse square law” we know that to move twice as near would be to experience four times the heat. Are we to look upon God like this? Is He a great furnace of heat, so much so that it would be best for us to keep as far away as possible?
The Lord gave me an enlightening vision to help me to understand. I found myself standing at the centre of a huge sphere, and gazing towards the distance in every direction I saw rosy-red fingers of fire, and I sensed that this fire became hotter and more intense the further it was from me. I also knew that the Lord was standing right behind me. It became clear that the whole sphere represented God in some way, and instead of the “inverse square law” operating, it was the other way round. The further away from God you went, the hotter it became. I then knew why God was jealous. He had such an intense love for His creation that He wanted us to be near Him, not far away, not in some region of outer darkness, some lake of fire.
My vision was then alerted to a man (such as John the apostle) who laid his head on Jesus’ breast. He could get no nearer to His Lord, and was able to hear the heart-beats of radiant love, so intense that it caused tears to flow, so profound that no words could ever vocalise the experience. And I knew that the heart of the Almighty desired His creation to be with Him there, the closer the better, because of the love He held for us all.
More next time.