This passage in chapter 33 thrills my soul this morning. What a majestic picture of our God. What a convicting picture of how I should walk. What a humbling promise of my King's care for me!
Verse 14 begins with a question. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" Just look back to chapter 6 when Isaiah the prophet finds himself in the presence of the thrice holy God. He is a man of unclean lips and he is ruined. So are we apart from the merciful touch of saving grace. The obvious answer is no one can live with this holy God who is a consuming fire!
"Our God is a consuming fire" (He 12:29). In Exodus 24 God is said to have appeared to the Israelites as a consuming fire on Mt. Sinai. What would happen to any of them who even dared to touch that mountain while God's presence was there? Utter ruin! Who among us can live with the consuming fire? If ever there was a rhetorical question, this is it!
Sin cannot dwell in the presence of this Holy God. That is why we who are by nature sinners must be changed by Him. That is why we are in such desperate need of the touch of sovereign grace - just as Isaiah needed the merciful touch of the burning coal from the hand of God's Seraphim. We must have Christ's righteousness imputed to our lives and His cleansing blood sprinkled upon us. His grace working in and through us is the only thing that can spare us from this all consuming fire and which can produce the type of walk that is next described in this passage.
"Who among us can live with the consuming fire?... He who walks righteously, and speaks with sincerity, he who rejects unjust gain and shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; he who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil."
I'm personally feeling a bit undone by these words and my failure in these things is blantantly obvious to me this morning. Here are the marks of a godly one. These are the marks that the Spirit of God should be forming in each of us who are disciples of Christ. Look at these and see if, like me, you are moved to sackcloth and ashes this morning and are awakened to your desperate need for the sanctifying work of our God. I read these and recognize my need for the All Consuming Fire to burn much dross off of my life this day!
- "He who walks righteously." Righteous walking! How am I walking the path that God has carved out for me? Am I acting in accord with the priniciples and commands of Scripture? Is His righteous word the road map for my way? Do I walk in the counsel of the wicked?
- "He who speaks with sincerity." Sincere speaking! How is my tongue? Do I speak the truth? Do I use my words to manipulate and gain my desires? Am I forthright or do I decieve others just as much with what I don't say as with what I do? Am I a gossip and a tale bearer? Are my lips clean?
- "He who rejects unjust gain." Am I willing to enrich myself by anything that is ungodly? Gambling? The lottery? Unreported income where the IRS is concerned? What about when the grocery clerk gives me back too much change? Am I above reproach in these areas? Do I reject them or do I embrace them?
- "He who shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe." Can I be bought at a price? While I may never be in a specific situation like Governor Blagojevich how often am I in heart situations that are similar? Am I ever afraid to say or do the righteous thing in front of someone because of what it may cost me friendship wise? Do I ever not do or say the righteous thing out of fear of being laughed at, mocked, or scorned? Do I ever not do or say the righteous thing because it might cost me my job? If so, have I not been bribed by the things of this world and the opinions of men?
- "He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed." An earlier mark dealt with what we say, this one deals with what we hear. What am I listening to? What fills my ears? Do I enjoy hearing gossip - which ultimately is tongue murder? Do I stop the tongue that tears down another or do I cozy up and savor it as it lingers on my ear drum?
- "He who shuts his eyes from looking upon evil." What am I watching? Have I with Job made a covenant with my eyes to not look upon any lustful thing or do I savor those things which stir up the lust of the flesh? What do I look at in magazines? on TV? on my computer? What pictures am I flooding my mind with? Are they evil or righteous? Do I shut my eyes to these things or roll out the red carpet for them?
How we need Christ to intervene! These righteous marks are all true of Him - 100%. This is the life He lived perfectly in our place 2,000 years ago and His death was to pay the penalty for our failure in these areas. We need to flee to the cross of Calvary - we need to flee to the Christ of Calvary! How we need to fill ourselves with the means of grace He has provided for us that we might not be tempted to walk in unrighteousness, to speak in insincerity, to embrace unjust gain, to hold tightly to a bribe, to listen long at bloodshed, and to gaze intently at evil. Lord, have mercy on us a sinful people and help us repent of our failures!
As God progressively sanctifies those of us He has justified and enables us to walk in Christ's footsteps there is a glorious promise attached. My heart just leaps at the beauty of these things. The one who, by grace, these things are true of will:"dwell on the heights; his refuge will be the impregnable rock; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure."
Look at these glorious promises of comfort from our God to His righteous people. We will be safe in the refuge of the impregnable rock. The same God who is an all-consuming fire is a light shining in our darkness to guide and to guard our way. We will be well cared for. There is nothing needful that the child of God shall lack. Our necessary bread and water will be given us. Even if in this life I go hungry by His all-wise providence, nothing can take the Living Bread from me. Even if in this life I thirst according to the counsel of his perfectly ordained will for my life, nothing can take away the Living Water that flows within. I am safe, I am secure, I am well fed, I am His and He is mine!
O All Consuming Fire burn me with Your love that I might walk in Your ways and enjoy your blessings.
Convicted and well fed,