I've been running a survey for the past several weeks (the survey is located on the right side of my blog) to see what "God is…" statements of the New Testament are most meaningful for people. If you look at the results of the survey you'll notice that only one choice has received no votes (that is, until just now when someone voted for it). It comes from Hebrews 12:29, "for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"
Let me suggest three reasons why we need God as a consuming fire.
1. We need to see God as a consuming fire to remind us that He is absolutely holy and should be respected.
From the earliest age, we learn that fire is something we should take seriously. It is dangerous and powerful. In the same way, God is good but He is not safe (a line from the Chronicles of Narnia). We need a healthy fear of God.
2. We need to see God as a consuming fire to remind us that if we draw close to Him, He will purify us.
Fire destroys what it cannot purify, but it purifies what it cannot destroy. Fire, in the Bible, is often an image of God's ability to burn away impurities in order to make us pure. He sometimes even uses trials to help us see what is really lasting. God loves us, but He doesn't leave us the way we are. He purifies us as we walk with Him.
3. We need to see God as a consuming fire to remind us that, through the death of Jesus, He has consumed all that separates us from Him.
In the pioneer days, on the prairie lands, people would sometimes find themselves about to be consumed by fire. Camped in the middle of the prairie they would see the flames of a wildfire approaching. Knowing that even their horses could not outrun the flames, they would start a fire on the ground upon which they stood. They then would stand on that burned patch of ground. The prairie fire would sweep by along the edge of the burned patch, but ultimately pass them by.
On the cross, God burned a patch of earth. His wrath poured out on Jesus. And those who stand in that place are saved by His consuming fire.
Thank God that He is a consuming fire.