Our son made us chuckle. “I think I must be getting old, ” he said, ” I’ve just realised that eating fire is dangerous!” He was trained to do this in his early 20’s, and has used it from time to time as a very effective attention-grabbing evangelism tool. He’s learned how to do it right, but it’s still fire, and it’s still dangerous.
I wonder if we as the Church, convey to the watching world, just how dangerous God is? We often present ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’, that God is ‘my mate’, and that he loves us so much that sin doesn’t matter. But the bible describes God as a ‘consuming fire’ (Hebrews 12:29). Do we even know ourselves, how indescribably powerful, how awesomely magnificent, how immense, how great, how ‘other’ beyond description our God is?
In Exodus 14: 24-21 the army of Pharaoh got a glimpse. God appeared as a pillar of fire and cloud, and stationed himself in this form at the rear of his people, the Israelites, to protect them as they were fleeing from the Egyptians, across the sea through which God had miraculously made a pathway. He looked down at the army. That was all it took, and they were thrown into utter confusion. The chariots, which had been their advantage, suddenly became their vulnerability, as wheels came off, driving became impossible, and chaos ensued. More than anything, the Egyptians understood for the first time just how dangerously powerful God was, and their need to retreat away from the people he was fighting for. They got it; even before the Israelites themselves, they got what an awesome God they were dealing with. They got it too late, and it cost them their lives. If only they had recognised his power, dominion and authority before they had pursued the Israelites, before their children had been taken from them in that last plague, before they had suffered the losses of all the other plagues…
But one thing strikes me. God did not directly cause the sea to be driven back to form the pathway, nor did he cause it to flow back to its original state. He entrusted the task, and the power to do it, to Moses. The man obeyed, and God’s kingdom, and his power and his glory were glimpsed on earth. And then, when they saw ‘the great power the Lord displayed’, the Israelites ‘feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.’
Do we know how gloriously, fearfully holy and powerful God is? Do our lives as individuals and as a church communicate this to our world? Am I willing to be the ‘Moses’ that will obey God when he wants to demonstrate his kingdom on earth?