A Consuming Fire

Prairie Fire

“‘Know therefore today that He who goes before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the LORD has promised you.’” (Deuteronomy 9:3)

After four decades of wilderness wandering, it was finally time for the Israelites to enter Canaan. The unbelieving generation had died out, and their children were prepared to see God work as they took over the land He had promised them. But though they knew His power, they were still a little afraid. After all, the Canaanites were giants. Did they really stand a chance against them?

Fortunately, God was aware of their weaknesses. He knew their fears, and He addressed them directly. Yes, these people were an undefeatable foe. All the nations around them were asking in terror, “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?” (Deuteronomy 9:2) But the thing was, it wasn’t the Israelites who were doing the fighting. It was God Himself who went before them, God Himself who would fight for them. He gave them the image of a consuming fire, a huge, uncontrollable blaze that wipes out everything it contacts and that nothing can quench. By His power, He would destroy the Canaanite nations. There would be no one who could stand against Him.

Even today, we have battles to face. We may not be fighting against literal giants, but think about all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles casting a pall of dread over this week. Maybe it’s fear over a sickness. Maybe it’s stress over the piles of work you have to finish. Maybe it’s stress over a relationship. Whatever it is, it’s big, it’s scary, and it’s not going away. Every time you try to fight it, the sheer enormity of it terrifies you, and you once again flee in shame. This is a situation we’re all too familiar with.

But the good news is, the God of the Israelites is still in the giant-fighting business. As His soldiers, He sends us into apparently impossible battles—but He doesn’t send us out alone. He Himself leads the charge, blazing through the enemy ranks and burning down all opposition. No matter what you’re facing, God is more powerful. No matter how big it is, God is bigger still. We’re going to war every day, but God always goes before us. The battle belongs not to us but to Him. We’re simply the weapons He uses to win. At the end of the day, all we have to do is obey and then stand in awe of God the Warrior. Absolutely nothing can withstand His consuming fire.

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