What comes to mind when we hear, “Fire!” It has to do with the tone of voice: Frightened or warm? A fire on a cold night is wonderful. A raging, wind driven fire is a terrifying sight. “Fire”is found 527 times in the Bible. The military use is for destruction: Fire team, fire fight, flame thrower, fire bomb, fire for effect. Thank God fires are mostly about eating, heating and fellowship. Fire is first found in Genesis 19:24 “God rained fire on Sodom and Gomorrah.” The second use in 22:15 is about a sacrifice to God. Exodus 3:2 describes an angel of the LORD appearing in a flame of fire. Fire is used nine time in the Book of Joshua: “And they burnt the city with fire.”It is 69 times in Leviticus: priests making sacrifices to God on altars with fire. Proverbs 26:21 warns us “strife is like fire.”James 3:5-6 says the tongue can set things on fire. We see in Jude 1:7 where the half brother of Jesus describes the vengeance of “eternal fire.” Matthew talks about this “hell fire.” 5:22, “furnace of fire.” 13:42 and 13:50. and “everlasting fire” 25:41. We see in II Kings 1:10+ God destroying a threat to his prophet, Elijah in a spectacular burst of fire from heaven. My favorite verse though is Matthew 3:11 “…he will baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” This is the first verse God quicken to my spirit to get my attention after I was born again. I love one passage in John 15:5-7 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather the branches, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” A wonderful description of Jesus is given in Revelation 1:14 “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire…” Considering that fire can destroy us or bless us, and it is our choice: is surrendering our lives fully to Him worth doing? Emphatically!
Footnote: These were teachings for Chaplain’s Corner of VFW monthly newsletter.
Fire and Maneuver:
A more common word than the word fight. As danger increases at some point God tells his people to flee. Wickedness is never satisfied: enough is never enough. At some point it can become so bad escaping is no longer practical for most. Before that point is reached he tells those who are his and at risk to flee. God doesn’t expect most of us to resist evil until death. Yes, there are martyrs! But that is usually a voluntary decision. The mature in Christ who hear the voice of God are certainly expected to resist evil. But when to flee? In discussing this word, lets use an acronym: Faith, Listen, Establish and Escape. Satan uses evil to establish inroads into all communities through lies and deceit. Also he will use sheer power to overcome. Those with discernment can see this happening. The mature go to God in prayer for wisdom on how to proceed. We listen to God and resist the attacks of the enemy. With prayers we declare God’s word into the situation and take appropriate actions. We by studying history see weakness in human nature. The lying and disceit trouble us. At some point God will say enough and tell his people to leave, and give the situation over to the will of the majority. In Matthew 15:14 he says: “Leave them alone, blind guides leading the blind and both will fall into the ditch.” God’s faithful are not appointed to God’s wrath. We see over and over in throughout history and in the bible this clash between the wicked and the righteous. This is why the rapture of the church is our blessed hope. The LORD often says “Ichabod” and his glory departs. There is a time to resist. Proverbs 28:1 tells us: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” “Fight” is found 170 times in scripture. There are other synonyms such as argue, clash, contest, disagree, dispute, struggle and engage. Thy also suggest a stand against evil: other legal ways to fight. But we find the word flee 264 times and the word escape 116 times! Some of the very brave who have resisted to the point of death and have the scars to prove it might see this action as somehow dishonorable. But smart generals have such contingencies. When overwhelmed it is prudent to withdraw.