A Consuming Fire – Hebrews 12:28-29

“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.” Hebrews 12:28-29

This passage begins with a picture of how God manifested Himself to the Israelites in the wilderness: “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them” (Hebrews 12:18). Such power is shown here. Unquestionable authority. The God who reigns supremely over all with might and glory and justice, came down on Mount Sinai “in the sight of all the people,” with “thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast,” so that the mountain “was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder” (Exodus 19:11, 16-19).

This is the God whom we serve. This is the God who reigns over the details of our lives. This infinite, almighty God is as powerful today as He was when He created all things—when He formed the stars that burn millions of light years away, when He set the planets in motion, when He determined the order and boundaries of all that we know—and when He came down on Mount Sinai in fire to speak to Moses in thunder.

We are to worship Him in reverence and awe. To recognize His might and authority. And to be left speechless, amazed and humbled that the God who made this mountain tremble greatly is the God who came to earth to die for us.

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 18. It connects the great, unmatched power of our God with His faithfulness to us. This God, this consuming fire, is the One who hears us and comes to our rescue. This is the One who has promised to keep us forever, and who has declared that no one will snatch us from His grasp and nothing in all creation can separate us from His love for us in Christ Jesus. So I leave you today with the words of this psalm written so long ago, and I pray that your spirit would be strengthened to offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe for our God who reigns in glorious splendor.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
Psalm 18:6-19

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