Luke 9:51-56: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. ” And they went to another village.” (NLT)
OBSERVATION: What kind of “fire” do I want? John the Baptist proclaimed – “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11 NKJV). What is this “fire”? Is it a fire to destroy, or a fire to purify? In reality it is both, but must be understood in the proper order.
When we misunderstand the “fire” of God we get out of step with the “heart” of God. This is what the James and John did. They witnessed the Samaritans rejecting Jesus and they wanted to call fire down from heaven to consume them. They wanted to enforce God’s Kingdom through judgment. This was totally out of step with the “heart” of God. Jesus rebuked them and said,
- “You do not know what manager of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
Sometimes out of frustration I feel like James and John. Why doesn’t God just bring fire down from heaven and take care of all those who are opposing the things of His Kingdom? Why not just wipe out those who reject God and practice sinful and destructive acts of violence? Why does God put up with it? Why does He wait? Peter reminds us why.
- “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”. (II Peter 3:9 NKJV)
And why is this so important? It is because there is a fire coming at the final judgment for all those who reject Jesus Christ. And when this fire falls there will be no turning back, no opportunity for repentance.
- “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (II Peter 3:10 NKJV)
So I am brought back to my original question. What kind of “fire” do I want? My desire should never be for the “fire” of judgment. What I should desire is the “fire” within my life that purifies my heart, fills me with the compassion and love of God, and aligns me with the “heart” of God to reach and save the lost! This is the “fire” that I need to fall down from heaven. It is a “fire” within my heart – to make me more like Jesus!
- “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (II Peter 3:11-13 NKJV)
Lord, purify my heart today with Your “holy fire”. Give me a heart to reach out to the lost, to pray for my enemies, to see a harvest of souls turning to Jesus. Let You love overtake me and transform me. Guard me from becoming a “son of thunder” and make me into Your “son of love”.
In Jesus Name!