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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Esh Oklah - Our God Is A Consuming Fire

I picked an amazing name of God to study for the week that I am getting back into the saddle... Our God who is a consuming fire, His name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14). I am choosing to divide this name into to parts because, well I am sort of a rabbit trail kind of person and we could be here for days if I don't divide it up into bite size parts for me to study! So, this post will be about how God is a Consuming Fire and Part II will be about Jealous, the God of Zeal.
Esh Oklah is literally translated from the Hebrew "to eat by fire." Think of that for a minute. God is a consuming fire. We have people who claim to commit crimes in the "heat of passion." They claim they are so consumed by the passion of the moment that they could not control their actions. Yet, God, as a consuming fire, is not ever out of control and He cannot ever sin. Often times when we think of God as a consuming fire we are thinking of a burning, searing anger that will destroy whatever is contrary to His holy nature.
When I think of this, I think of how Moses met with God on the mountain in the form of a burning bush. The bush, though consumed by fire, did not burn. What is it that can be consumed by the presence of God and not be burned. Today, I hope to unpack this truth in such a way that we will never consider this identity of God the same way again.
First we will look at definitions and commentary related to Deuteronomy 4:23-24.
Hebrew Strong's Reference Number: 784
KJV Translated: fire
Hebrew Word: ‏אֵשׁ‎
Transliteration: ʾēsh
Phonetic Pronunciation:aysh
Root: a primitive word
Cross Reference: TWOT - 172
Part of Speech: n f
Vine's Words: Fire
Usage Notes:
English Words used in KJV: fire 373, burning 1, fiery 1, untranslated variant 1, fire + 1, flaming 1, hot 1, [Total Count: 379]
a primitive word; fire (literal or figurative) :- burning, fiery, fire, flaming, hot.
Hebrew Strong's Reference Number: 398
KJV Translation: consuming
Hebrew Word: ‏אָכַל‎
Transliteration: ʾākal
Phonetic Pronunciation:
Root: a primitive root
Cross Reference: TWOT -
Part of Speech: v
Vine's Words:
Eat (To)
Usage Notes:
English Words used in KJV: eat 604, devour 111, consume 32, misc 55 [Total Count: 810]

a primitive root; to eat (literal or figurative) :- × at all, burn up, consume, devour (-er, up), dine, eat (-er, up), feed (with), food, × freely, × in...wise (-deed, plenty), (lay) meat, × quite.

.The Bible Knowledge Commentary-Old Testament (Walvoord and Zuck, Victor Books, 1985, p.270) contains the following commentary:

4:21-24. Though Moses knew he would not... enter the Promised Land (the good land; cf. 1:25) he still desired it. So again he mentioned God's displeasure with him (cf. 3:26-27), and reminded the Israelites that he would not be there to enforce the prohibition against idolatry. However, the LORD would enforce the command. Like a consuming fire (4:24) He would purify what is precious (just as fire purifies precious metals) and destroy what is worthless.
Let's review the following verses and see what we discover about God as a Consuming Fire (Esh Oklah):
"Behold, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with His anger, and in thick, rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire." ~ Isaiah 30:27 (AMP) ("devouring fire" in the KJV)
"He has broken off in His fierce anger every horn (means of defense) of Israel. He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy. And He has burned amidst Jacob like a flaming fire consuming all around." ~ Lamentations 2:3 (AMP)

.Isaiah was writing to an unrepentant and disobedient nation. He wanted them to strongly weigh the consequences of their actions and what it would cost them in their relationship with God.
I remember as a young girl, my mother would remind me of just this sort of consequence when I misbehaved. Many of you may have heard the same warning: "Just wait until your father gets home." Despite the fact that I knew my father loved me, and that He would take care of me no matter what my need... I also knew when I crossed the boundaries of appropriate behavior as his child - My Goose Was Cooked! I remember fearing my father as a young child - being quite afraid of that "anger" that preceded the consequences for my actions. Perhaps more than anything, the worst part was that my father disapproved of what I had done. My father, out of love, would administer a discipline appropriate to the action and severe enough to ensure I would not want to repeat the inappropriate behavior.
So it was between God and the Israelites. He wanted them to know that His holiness could not tolerate their sinful disobedience. He also wanted them to fear Him in a reverent, humble way so that they would not step outside His boundaries and earn His disfavor again. God brings forth His holy consuming fire of anger and disapproval for our benefit, not to condemn us. We stand condemned and unworthy already. From birth we have earned the right to be without His care, His grace and His presence because we are born into a sinful existence. God's anger burns in consumption of things that dishonor Him because His Love burns so passionately to be reconciled to us in every way!
"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My wrath go forth like fire [consuming all that gets in its way] and burn so that no one can quench it because of the evil of your doings." ~ Jeremiah 4:4 (AMP)
This passage speaks so powerfully to the desire of God for us to put away the old nature, to have it cut away. In the Old Testament representation of cutting covenant through physicial circumcision set the Israelites apart from their gentile neighbors. They were set apart both spiritually and physically. It was by this covenant that Israel would enjoy the Lord's favor and His protection. It was an act of obedience and a symbol of their relationship. However, at this time, the Jews were practicing the rite and embracing the symbolic meaning of circumcision without the spiritual restraint and discipline that should have accompanied the Children of God. Jeremiah is calling out for them to submit themselves to the life-changing spiritual circumcision that God administers to the hearts of the humble. In Colossians 2:11-14 (AMP) we read about this circumcision as it applies to both the Jew and the gentile believer alike.
"11 In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). 12 [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [ to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [ as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. 13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross."
God call to us to have our hearts circumcised still rings with His desire that we be set apart. We are called to live not conformed to the pattern of this world, with our hearts commited to the temporary trappings of its existence. But, instead we are called to be transformed first through the circumcision of our hearts through Christ's sacrifice on the cross - a cutting away of our flesh nature - so that we may be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and given to the passions and the directions that He brings to our lives. It marks us as His own and points others to Him as the source of salvation, life and freedom.
"Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; 29 For our God [is indeed] a consuming fire." ~Hebrews 12:28-29 (AMP)

We have received the greatest blessing we could possibly imagine. Adoption into the family and Kingdom of God through His Son's redeeming sacrifice. We do not serve the Lord out of obligation, but out of gratitude. Because of His great gift we surrender ourselves to His purposes, offering our lives in acceptable worship, modestly, carefully and in humble and reverent awe of who He is and what He does for us. His love is so all consuming, that to experience His zeal and passion for His own drives us humbly to the floor in worship of the God who loves us so much that He would give all to restore us to a place of favor and grace.

Think of it this way: God is love. He loves so completely, so passionately that anything that comes into the presence of this burning, passionate love is exposed to the consuming nature of its fire. Only things that have the capacity to withstand the fire will survive it. Anything that is of ourselves, temporary in its measure will be burned away - not just singed, but completely consumed until all that remains is that which is eternal, which is precious. Just as our rewards will be given by fire, our lives are tested by fire - and anything that is perishable will be consumed. This is why it is so important for us to clothe ourselves in the imperishable - Jesus Christ and live in His Glory, humbling submitting ourselves to His desires over our own. He is a consuming fire..
Read the following passage and note all the ways we can experience God's consuming love over His consuming anger:
Chapter 3
Jesus Greater Than Moses
1 Therefore, holy brothers,
who share in the heavenly calling,
fix your thoughts on Jesus,
the apostle and high priest
whom we confess.
2 He was faithful to
the one who appointed him,
just as Moses was faithful
in all God's house.
3 Jesus has been found worthy
of greater honor than Moses,
just as the builder of a house
has greater honor than the house itself.
4 For every house is built by someone,
but God is the builder of everything.
5 Moses was faithful
as a servant in all God's house,
testifying to what would
be said in the future.
6 But Christ is faithful
as a son over God's house.
And we are his house,
if we hold on to our courage
and the hope of which we boast.
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and tried me
and for forty years saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said,
'Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.'

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
'They shall never enter my rest.'"
12 See to it, brothers,
that none of you has a sinful,
unbelieving heart that turns
away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily,
as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened
by sin's deceitfulness.
14 We have come to share in Christ
if we hold firmly till the end
the confidence we had at first.
15 As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion."
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled?
Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?
17 And with whom was he angry for forty years?
Was it not with those who sinned,
whose bodies fell in the desert?
18 And to whom did God swear that
they would never enter his rest
if not to those who disobeyed ?
19 So we see that they were not able to enter,
because of their unbelief.


luvmy4sons said...

Great look at "all consuming fire". I think it is so often misunderstood and skipped over. We must properly look at Whom God says He is and not make up our own images of Whom we think He is. Great!

jenmom said...

Excellent as always!!
God as a Consuming Fire is not punitive, but He is redemptive in His actions toward us. He desires that our lives reflect Him.
Thank you for your efforts!!

Michelle V said...


Excellent post! I think I had always just thought of the consuming fire in the punitive way and not like a refining fire.