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For the Lord your God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:31)

As Moses prophesied, when God’s people who were scattered throughout the nations found themselves in great distress, they would begin to seek the LORD and turn back to Him. In Hebrew, the root word rendered as “turn” is שוב shuv. and from this root word is derived the term תשובה teshuvah — a word you have, no doubt, heard many times. This is the Hebrew word for “repentance.” So when John the Baptist came on the scene saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” in Hebrew, he would have said, “Shuv” — “Turn!” Like previous generations, the people of his day had forsaken God and needed to turn back to Him, and if they did, they would find mercy and forgiveness.

Within just a few verses, we learn that the God of Israel is “a merciful God” AND a “consuming fire.” Being described as “a consuming fire,” we would assume that speaks to His response to anything that stands in opposition to His Will. The proud, the wicked and any such thing that resists Him will be consumed by this fire as the Scripture says: “The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD” (Psalms 97:5). Yet, it is that same fire that engulfed a solitary bush in the wilderness but without consuming it. Thus we are to conclude that, for the humble and repentant, the all consuming fire purges, restores and bestows mercy.

We may, at times, find ourselves in the midst of a fiery trial where it seems we are being pressed from all sides. And though we are tempted to place responsibility on the Adversary, the truth of the matter is that, very often, it is by God’s design. But if that is so, it is never with the intent to destroy us because, “The LORD your God is a merciful God.” It is always His intent to provoke us to return to Him and to His ways and be everything He has intended us to be. So let us be resolved to pray that God would be a consuming fire in our lives — to purge and burn up the unfruitful aspects of our lives. But let us also pray that His fire would burn so intently in us that all would see the power of God working in and through us and to know that we serve a mighty and merciful God.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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