Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. (Exodus 24:16-17)
In other passages, the scene at Mount Sinai is described as being like a furnace with thick, dark smoke boiling up from the top of the mountain. Coupled with the ground being shaken and the sounds of voices and trumpets, the sights of Mount Sinai must have been both spectacular and frightening. With a few exceptions, this was the extent of what the people saw from their vantage point — but it was enough to make a lasting impression. More importantly, they heard the voice of the Almighty speak. Later Moses would say:
“Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.” (Deuteronomy 4:11-12)
They heard the words and but saw no form; the words were to be enough. However, what they were allowed to see spoke volumes. The glory of God is so intense and so majestic that the best way man has to describe it is to liken it to an all consuming fire. Moses would reiterate this notion on a couple of occasions. Other biblical writers alluded to this attribute of God’s Presence in their writings. For instance, the psalmist, along with the prophet Nahum and Micah, describe how the mountains and hills will “melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,” when He comes to judge the nations of the earth. At the same time, that all consuming fire provides life and blessing to those who draw near to it and present their bodies as living sacrifices.
One of the more prominent mentions of this idea — that God is a consuming fire — is found in Hebrews 12. In referring to this, the writer argues that because our God is a consuming fire, we are to heed His voice and not turn a deaf ear to His Word as many at Mount Sinai did. We are to “have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
Frankly, this message is presented to those of us who are living in these last days. Our God is a consuming fire and is coming to judge the nations. Those that are as wood, hay and stubble will be burned up in His Presence. On the other hand, those who are His — His vessels and servants — can not only survive, but can thrive in His Presence. Three men walked in the midst of a fire and were not singed because He was in the fire. So just as fire purifies and strengthens certain substances, let us submit ourselves to this all consuming fire and be purged of all that needs to go that we may be the vessels of honor He has ordained.
Blessings and Shalom,