Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Into the Fire: Sanctified or Consumed

I want to share something I've been pondering from reading through Exodus the last few weeks. It's this concept of fire in connection to God. It begins with Moses herding his father-in-law's flocks, when sees a bush, "and, behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."

So, seeing this, what does he do?

He goes to it. "And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." And from this bush, the presence of the Lord speaks to him, calls him by name, and calls the land on which Moses stands holy ground.

Later, when the Lord had rescued the children of Israel from Egypt, and Moses had brought them to Mount Sinai, there was something similar.

And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. Exodus 19:18-20

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21

So here is a contrast. Moses sees something otherworldly, a fire, and he approaches it and is sanctified. The children of Israel see the glory of God descend to a mountain and instead of staying near the bounds the Lord has set, they draw away. They do not approach, are not sanctified. They ask Moses to do all the hard work for them. And he does. He goes up the smoking, quaking mountain into the presence of God, where he speaks to him. D&C 84 clarifies what happened here further.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also... D&C 84: 20-25

The Israelites were given the same opportunity as Moses and they did not accept it. This opportunity was to see the face of God, to enter into the fulness of His glory, while in the flesh. This is the same opportunity we are all given: "Verily, thus saith the Lord: it shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am. (I've placed "I am" in bold because it is an echo of what God said to Moses when He appeared to him, "I am that I am.")

This is the same promise that was given to Moses, that was given to the Israelites, that is given to us. The same yesterday, today, and forever.

Fire and smoke are often mentioned in connection with the glory of God. It is the very fire of His glory and the glory of the host that will come with Him that will consume the earth when He returns, that will sanctify it to a Terrestrial habitation during the millenium. It is this fire that Telestial worlds and beings cannot abide.

(As individuals, this does not only occur at the Second Coming. There is the baptism of fire that we must experience in order to enter into the way.)

So that leaves us with a choice:

Do we repeat the actions of the children of Israel by removing, and standing "afar off?"

Do we let the fire catch up with us and consume us?


like Moses, do we approach?

Do we accept the invitation? And allow ourselves to be sanctified by the fire instead of consumed.

For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power of the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet. 1 Nephi 22:23

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Zechariah 13:9

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