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A More Consuming Fire

Deuteronomy 5:25-27
“‘Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of our LORD our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say, and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’”

In the dialogue between God and Moses that immediately follows from here, the LORD fascinatingly commends every word of the people’s request, rejoicing to Moses of the way these pilgrims are finally seeing His glory and responding with reverential fear. But just think how miserable our sanctification would be if, day by day, God needed to draw us back to Sinai and thunder words through fire and darkness to keep us from going astray? Thankfully, while visions like these are pivotal to our life of faith, they aren’t predominant or preeminent.

The journey of sanctification has always been a journey to a land of blessing, a land flowing with milk and honey, where wars cease and where earthly sorrows are transubstantiated into heavenly joys. Sinai has never been the ending point of the pilgrimage, nor the goal of this gospel enterprise, nor the summit of Theophanous bliss, but it’s always been a place of reformation. A pitstop in the wilderness of wandering where we become aware once again of God’s holiness. An altar where all those sins we’ve rationalized and compartmentalized and thought little of come squirming out, purged in the fire of the Spirit’s all-seeing gaze. And the paradox we discover in the crucible of Heaven’s fire is that the very words that restore our path and reconfigure our ambitions and revolutionize our understanding are words that could just as easily kill us.

Moses will once again stand in the gap for these people, once again go where they can’t, and in his steps we see the faint picture of our coming Mediator—a Savior who will walk through the fires of Sinai for us, bearing on His shoulders what we eternally can’t bear on our own, and rending Sinai’s veil of darkness forevermore in the more consuming fire of His redeeming love.