843 Acres: Your God Is a Consuming Fire

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Deut 4 (text | audio, 8:19 min)
Ps 86 (text | audio, 1:59 min)
Ps 87 (text | audio, 0:43 min)
Highlighted: Deut 4:24

Jealous: Richard Dawkins writes, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it …” [1]. Dawkins is partly right; God is jealous and proud of it. As Moses says, “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” [2]. But is Dawkins also right that God’s jealousy makes him unpleasant?

Complex: To be jealous is not necessarily to be envious. Jealousy can be a sign of passion and commitment; it can be more positive and complex than we imagine. For example, if you are married and you find out that your spouse is becoming intimate with someone besides you, should you not feel some passion or zeal? In fact, indifference would be a bad sign, not a good one, right? In other words, in any relationship, if you never get angry when you see something destroying your loved one, then do you really love them? Tim Keller says, “To accept whatever is wrong in the loved person is not to love them; it is to love yourself, to love your convenience” [3].

Loving: In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes, “You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect,’ is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes”.

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for being a jealous God, for loving us so much that you hate those things (like idol worship) that destroy us. As we look upon the cross, we see the essence of your passionate and complex love.  For Jesus was consumed by your consuming fire so that we would not be. Let us, therefore, love your jealousy, not despise it. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Texts (our reading plan)

Sat, June 1: Deut 5 (text | audio, 4:31 min) & Ps 88 (text | audio, 1:53 min)
Sun, June 2: Deut 6 (text | audio, 3:21 min) & Ps 89 (text | audio, 5:01 min)

Footnotes

[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. | [2] Deuteronomy 4:24 ESV | [3] Tim Keller. “The Fire of God.” Sermon. March 25, 1990.

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