Genesis 15:17 - And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
God made a covenant with Abram (before he became Abraham). That covenant is extended to us. With Abram the covenant was made with various animals and fowl. They were cut in two pieces and divided. While Abram was in a deep sleep God came as the smoking oven and consuming fire that passed through the pieces and a covenant was made that the land Abram had been given would be his, for he and his descendants.
For whatever seemingly totally unrelated reason, I jumped to Deuteronomy 9. and there at the top of the page were these words: The LORD a Consuming Fire! Israel was enslaved in Egypt at this time. Moses was speaking to the people, telling them they were to cross over the Jordan River that day. They were going to defeat their enemies and (re)possess the land that was rightfully theirs through the promise to Abram. These enemies were greater in strength and number but with the LORD behind them they would succeed because He would be a consuming fire.
God can be a consuming fire in our lives too, if we allow Him. We have a choice to make. Do we want to possess the land God has promised us or do we not? The land spoken of above was physical. Our Promised Land is Heaven. The only way to receive that land is to come into relationship with Christ. Through Jesus we become the descendants of which it was written. We may not be Jewish, but as followers we are grafted into God’s family. We have been adopted (Ephesians 1:5 - having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...)
Israel was told not to think that it was they who succeeded on their own. It was the LORD who would destroy their enemies. They were also very pointedly told it was not because of their righteousness or uprightness of their hearts, but only His righteousness. Oh, people understand this! Israel was helpless without God. They were disobedient in His eyes, a stiff-necked people. So we can be.
We cannot think we will just die and go to heaven because we believe we're good, that we have righteousness on our own. No, just as Israel was helpless without the LORD, we are helpless without Jesus. We receive righteousness when we receive Christ. When we receive Christ God becomes the consuming fire within us to make us more in the image He requires. His Spirit is the refiner spoken of in the Word; He purifies us as gold and silver; we are tested by fire through situations in our lives.
Deuteronomy 9:7 says "Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness..." We are all in a worldly wilderness before receiving Christ. We provoke God. But...He made a way for us. But we must make a decision to choose this day whom we will serve, man or God. We have to be willing to be part of the covenant offered to us. That decision is made through Jesus. He is that covenant...the new covenant. 1Corinthians 11:25 - In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood..."
The Kingdom of Heaven is ours when we accept the terms of this Covenant. God the Father becomes a consuming fire against the rest of the world, against the god of this world, for us. This all so exciting. His plan for us is to live for Him, obey Him and worship Him. When we do the Kingdom of Heaven, our Promised Land, the land that the LORD our God gave to our ancestors so long ago is ours also. Do you see the similarity?
There will be a day when God as our consuming fire will descend upon this world again and destroy wickedness and only if we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ will we overcome, being righteous only through Him. We will be safe from the coming storm. As Moses interceded to God for rebellious Israel, Jesus intercedes for us to the Father. We cannot possess the Kingdom of Heaven based on our good works but only by our receiving Christ and His greatness and righteousness.
I’m thankful for a Savior who becomes a personal consuming fire to work righteousness in and through me.
Deuteronomy 9:6 - Therefore understand that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.