June 28, 2012 § Leave a comment
Fire has always been among the few basic elements of the universe in classical thought. Fire was part of God’s ideal creation, and in its ideal it gives light and heat to sustain life on earth (Gen. 1:14-18). But it’s also one of the oldest human fears.
We don’t know anything certain about man’s first use of it, but the earliest record of man’s exposure to fire was the “flaming sword” used to guard Adam and Eve’s re-entry into the Garden of Eden after they had sinned (Gen. 3:24).
Fire is God’s descriptive term of choice for passages about hell, Hades or Sheol—the realm of Satan and the place of eternal judgment of evil (Luke 16:19-31). Some scholars see Ezekiel 28:12-19 as at least one account of Satan’s fall from heaven to a place of consuming fire, even before human history.
Fire has a very long history as a force to be feared and respected. The headlines from Colorado are a reminder of how dangerous fire is and how powerless we are in the face of it, particularly on such a large scale. In many cases, firefighters can do little else but watch and citizens can do little else but run from it.
In Daniel 3, three Jews were sentenced to die in a fiery furnace because they refused to bow to the King of Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, with a relatively short history of faithful to go on, held by faith that their God would save them from the fire. When they were thrown into the raging flames, bystanders reported “four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed.” The fourth man looked like “a son of the gods.” (Dan. 3:25)
God’s son Jesus came to earth and endured the fire of the cross for us so that we could escape the fires of righteous judgment. The fire we endure in a world cursed by sin is not fire that those who know Christ go through alone. Someone walks through it with us.
Even in the presence of a threat as old as the hills that now burn, we are not outside of God’s protection. As small as these Colorado wildfires make us feel, when we pray for our neighbors in Colorado, we are praying to a God who is bigger and older than the flames trying to consume it.