Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23: 29

 

We are all far too aware of the destructive capacity of fire. It can take anything that we have built and turn it into rubble and ash in a matter of moments. When it is on the loose, it is unpredictable and runs wildly from mountain to valley without regard for the importance or the value of what lies in its path. Yet, God reckons that His word is like fire. So, does God’s Word destroy and run wildly amok in our midst? Could it be that there is danger contained in those pages or in the thoughts and ideas that are inspired by the Spirit and spoken by His voice? That might be the response that some people would have to either the word, itself, or to people who seek to live in a manner that is reflective of its moral and ethical, that is its righteous and holy, perspective. God’s Word is dangerous in our world, and it can burn wildly through our culture with its flaming tongue of truth consuming all that is stubble or straw before it.

 

Yet, God does not use His word of truth for destructive purposes, and He never desires for us to do that either. The Lord consumes the false and the deceptive elements of our world with His unfailing and unchangeable truth. He seeks to burn away all that is false and dedicated to idols in the hearts and the minds of people, both in those who do not know Him and in those who are in relationship with Him. We are all subjected to the heat of His judgement, we are all found to be lacking in true righteousness, and we are all offered redemption and new life in Christ. Only some accept this offer and avoid facing the final judgement that does come to everyone; so, those that do accept this offer of grace are judged as righteous by virtue of Christ’s perfection that is poured over and into us.

 

In order to do this, this pouring over and into each and every person who desires to know Christ and so, know God, the Lord uses the prophet’s metaphorical hammer to break through and to shatter away our hard shells of rebellion, pride, self-reliance, and fear. In this case, God’s Word in conjunction with the work of His Spirit find those places of vulnerability and need in people and strike us with the precise amount of force that is required to break away the defenses that we put up to stay away from God’s call to the heart to repent and to come home to His love. Once this hardened façade has been penetrated and broken, that consuming fire of truth that is propelled by the Spirit can reach into our inner beings and begin to cleanse, purify, and heal the wounds within. God’s fire is more terrifying than any of the conflagrations that burn on earth, and his hammer is more powerful than any force of nature, but every blow that He strikes and each tongue of flame that He sends out is purposeful and designed to bring about redemption and to lead to life today and for eternity.

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