It is the best-known prayer in America – “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus taught the people who crowded around Him to pray that way. Jesus used the term “Father” dozens of times in the Gospels, so a question for us is – “who is the Father?”
One of the best places to go to learn about God the Father is in the wilderness – specifically the 40 years God spent with the children of Israel between Egypt and the Promised Land. That’s where we see the Father teaching the 12 Tribes of Israel what His being their Father meant.
God is extremely complex – far too complex for the children of Israel to comprehend. Knowing their weaknesses (and ours) God revealed Himself to them in ways they could understand.
God Sends Fire From Heaven
“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ So Aaron held his peace.” Leviticus 10:1-3
God the Father introduced “fire” to His children early in their relationship. In fact, He first introduced fire to Abram when He appeared as a smoking oven and burning torch, and later to Lot when He destroyed the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.” Genesis 15:17-18
“Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” Genesis 19:24-25
The Hebrew word for “fire” is esh. The Greek word is pur. In the Old and New Testaments fire symbolized judgment, purity, holiness and the Presence of God. The first time God spoke to Moses was “in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” (Genesis 3:2) It was from that holy fire that the Father revealed His Holy Name to Moses – Lesson #1 for the children of Israel.
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” Genesis 3:14
God demonstrated His Judgment of Egypt through fire.
“And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. ” Exodus 9:23-25
God led His children through the wilderness with fire.
” And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. ” Exodus 13:21
“For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Exodus 40:38
God revealed His Holy Commandments for His children from fire on the mountain.
“Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” Exodus 19:18
“The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:17-18
God revealed the demands of His Holiness and Justice to the children of Israel through the many burnt offerings necessary to appease the fierce wrath of God and receive their Father’s Forgiveness and be at peace with Him.
“And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.” Exodus 29:18
“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet you to speak with you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory. ” Exodus 29:42-43
” And he shall offer the second as a burnt offering according to the prescribed manner. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.” Leviticus 5:10
“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” Leviticus 1:3-4
If you ever wonder how serious God was about His children never forgetting the purpose of the fire and burnt offering, read this.
” Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen trousers he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments, put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.” Leviticus 6:8-13
God the Father used fire at times to judge and discipline His children.
“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the Lord, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the Lord had burned among them.” Numbers 11:1-3
God the Father used fire throughout the Old Testament both to discipline and protect His children. God does not change. He is today the Mighty God and uses fire to judge and destroy. Is it any wonder that when John the Baptist prophesied about Jesus he said the Lord would punish the wicked “with unquenchable fire”? (Luke 3:17) Is it a surprise that Jesus said, “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) and “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”? (John 15:6) How wonderful then for His children to read that the end for all wickedness is the “fire” of God.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:7-15
The “fire” of the Father reveals His Holiness, His Righteousness, and His Justice. The children of Israel have spent thousands of years struggling with that revelation, but the day is coming when they will learn their lesson and receive their great reward.
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”