Hebrews 11:29 – Our God is a Consuming Fire

Sinful man inevitably looks everywhere but to the God who made him for satisfaction in life.  God’s Chosen People are the example of this – a template of sorts.  When we consider the history of Israel and her consistent turning away from God, we should not pridefully think that we would never do such a thing.  We already have.

Ezekiel 16 is a harsh chapter.  Yahweh spares no sentiment in describing the faithlessness of Judah.  He explains through the prophet how He raised her from birth.  She was a pagan child, unwanted and unloved.  In His tender mercy, God cared for her as a loving Father, clothing her and giving her the very best of all He had.  During this time, He says in Ezekiel 16:8:

“… I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.”

But this willful child of a nation decided in her pride that she had grown beautiful and prosperous through her own means.  In the trusting of her own beauty, the people of Jerusalem did the unthinkable.  They turned to other nations with their pagan gods and idols.  What nation had ever abandoned its god before?  Yahweh expresses His dismay in Ezekiel 16:16:

You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be.

Through this abandonment of Him as Father, Husband, and God, the Lord wasted no words in describing Judah: she had whored like no other.  For her wickedness, Yahweh declared “woe, woe to you!” (Ezekiel 16:23)

The narrative goes on to describe how even Sodom, as Judah’s little sister, was more righteous than her!  How could that be knowing what we do about the abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah?  But that’s what God says and has against Judah.  For her sins, she, like her sisters, Samaria (i.e. the Northern Kingdom of Israel) and Sodom, would be destroyed.  Judah would be an object of reproach.  She would “… bear the penalty of [her] lewdness and [her] abominations…” (Ezekiel 16:58)

Later, in the letter addressed to the Hebrew believers, the writer reminds his readers that they must set aside all sin and persevere in their walk with God.  In their case, they may have grown weary in the constant fight to remain righteous.  Yet, look at what the writer says in Hebrews 12:4

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

In other words, whatever you’ve had to deal with is nothing compared to what it could be.  You should expect difficulty as you live out your Christian life, and you may falter.  But remember this he says in Hebrews 12:5-7:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

    nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Trouble may come; your faith may be tested, you may turn your eyes from the Lord.  Through these things, should you waver, God will give you a reminder.  He brings discipline, even rebuke if necessary, because of His great love.  You – Hebrew believers – are cherished as sons and daughters.  Anything that comes your way does so for a purpose so that you might grow in holiness.

Hebrews goes on to explain the terror of the Lord that God’s people experienced during their wilderness wanderings in the Exodus.  They had an encounter with God – remote as it was – with Him on the mountain and them far away.  It was terrifying.  Even … Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” (Hebrews 12:21)

The lesson to God’s people is outlined in Hebrews 12:25:

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.

Judah in ancient Israel did not receive these warnings with the fear and trembling that she should have.  Through her stiff-necked, obstinate, refusal to heed God’s Words, she brought great destruction upon herself as noted elsewhere: sword, famine, pestilence, wild beasts, and finally captivity.  Can anyone escape the One true God?  Does it make sense to willfully choose a path of self-righteousness with all its implications?

The history recounted in Ezekiel 16 made me think of our story here in America.  God nurtured us from inauspicious beginnings.  We grew up beautiful and prosperous because of His blessings.  But it seems as though Judah was indeed the model for our rebellion.  Our pride and arrogance grew.  We became fat and lazy.  When other gods wooed us, we whored with them.  The church as the people of God – which should have stood athwart this turning away –  joined it instead.  Rather than reject and stay apart from the world, we embraced and became the world.

Just as Israel did the unthinkable in sacrificing her sons and daughters in the fire to Molech, so have we sacrificed our children on the altar of convenience through Planned Parenthood.  We have done exactly the opposite of what Hebrews says: We have refused Him who is speaking.  The warning God has given from heaven through Scripture is clear.  How will we as a nation escape if we reject Him?

We won’t.

The time is near for our nation – just as it was for Judah with all the warnings the prophets had given.  The Word of God that we have in the form of the Bible has likewise warned us.  But we’ve refused to listen to its clear intent.

This is a message that few want to hear.  A major reason is that so many people in the church have decided that this world is our home.  Rather than accept that it’s an alien place not fit for the children of God, we’ve decided to hold it close in a vain attempt to make it better, despite such an attempt being contrary to prophetic Scripture.

America, and this world, are going down.  Neither can be saved.  Should we who love the Lord even desire such a thing as the reclamation of society at this point?  Shouldn’t our focus be toward heaven, which should be our real hope?

In the time remaining before Jesus comes to rescue us, we need a change of heart.  Rather than attempting to transform the world to make it conform to our expectations, we need to simply reach out to save as many as possible before the prophesied end.  That should be our major task.

As Hebrew 12:28-29 reminds us:

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

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