For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24)
Considering that Moses was not permitted to enter Canaan, nor were his bones buried in the land as it was with Joseph, it is clear that the Almighty doesn’t play favorites nor does He compromise on the expectations He places upon His people. Consequently, those who were preparing to enter the land should be grateful and diligent to walk circumspectly because the LORD is a devouring fire. That statement carries both positive and negative connotations; on one hand a bush submitted to His Will can burn and not be consumed. On the other hand, the hills will melt like wax at the coming of the LORD.
That He is a consuming fire is connected to the notion that He is a “jealous God,” meaning that He doesn’t allow the loyalty due Him to be given to someone or something else. The writer H.G. Wells once noted that, “None of the founders of the great heathen religions had any inkling of this idea of a jealous God, a God who would have ‘none other gods.’ ” In fact, the cultures of Greece and Rome worshiped a myriad of “non-jealous” gods, evidenced by the fact that these and other cultures absorbed the gods of foreign lands into their own pantheon. In other words, there was always room for another god to be venerated along side dozens of others. As a matter of fact, when Jerusalem fell to the Romans, the Italians were prepared to give the God of Israel a place in their pantheon. Of course, this could never be, and so, the Jews were destined to be continually at odds with Rome.
As for us, because we serve this same “jealous God,” we are never to give the allegiance due Him to any other. To do so would be to surrender to falsehood, and truth can never make any concession to falsehood. In short, truth can’t tolerate the lie. This fact explains why there is a holiday called Hanukkah and why three Hebrew men refused to bow the knee to Babylon’s idol (Daniel 3). Let us always keep in mind that culture will cede belief in “God” as long as “God” remains in His proper place as they have defined it. But we serve a jealous God whose proper place is “above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21).
Blessings and Shalom,