Fire is the most ravenous force in nature. Its very existence is contingent upon that which is feeds, and it feeds upon its prey until it is brought to nothing. And when its prey is exhausted, the fire, as powerful as it might have been at one point, is exhausted as well and disappears into nonexistence.
When it is controlled, fire is to men a useful tool to eliminate that which is waste so as to free up space for that which is not. When it is not controlled, it is a decimating force that feeds and feeds until all of its resources are spent and all that is left in its wake is in utter ruin. It is a force to be harnessed, and it is a force to be feared when it is untamed.
When these attributes of fire are considered, they shed light upon God and his revelation of himself to Moses at the burning bush. And when we consider this revelation, burning bush is somewhat of a misnomer, for the bush was not burning at all. The bush was engulfed in flames, and yet, contrary to nature, it was not devoured by those flames. And it is at that point that the God of the universe reveals his name to Moses—Yahweh or I Am.
When we consider the nature of fire and the event of the burning bush, several things can be gathered about Yahweh at this revelation. First, we see that Yahweh, revealing himself as the fire that engulfs the bush but does not consume it, is a Being who is not dependent upon anything for his existence. Whereas a normal fire would devour the bush because it needed the bush as fuel for its existence, Yahweh needs no such fuel to exist. He is absolutely self-sufficient, and he needs nothing, whether on heaven or on earth, not only to exist but to thrive.
Secondly, we see that Yahweh is not a God who can be tamed or controlled, but he is a God who is untamable and uncontrollable. Whereas men can control fire by feeding it with fuel or withholding fuel from it or by locking it in a furnace, Yahweh cannot be controlled by such means. Since he is not dependant upon his creation for his existence, his creation has no sway over him or his will. Nothing or no man can thwart his power or his designs, for he who was I Am before his creation, is he who is I Am at this present time, and would remain I Am if this creation were brought to nothing.
Thirdly, since Yahweh is such a God, his creation is dependent upon him and his mercy and nothing more. When we consider the evil in the world and the hatred of Yahweh and his order in it, we should stand in awe of the great mercy of God in sparing it to this day. For if Yahweh is indeed a Being who is in need of nothing for his existence, and if he indeed is a fire that can exist without fuel, he most certainly can be a Consuming Fire that destroys rebellion and unrighteousness with the force of his great power. As indeed the author to the Hebrews writes:
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:25-29).
When we consider that our God is such a God, that he is dependent upon on no one or nothing for his existence or his satisfaction, we must understand ourselves, live our lives, and feel with our hearts in accordance with this greatest of realities. We must understand that God does not need us or is want of our abilities to accomplish his purposes, but he grants to us the gift of being used by him for his Name’s sake. Therefore, when the Scriptures speak of humans working in God’s name, they are called instruments and vessels of God, not by necessity, but by his will. Therefore we must walk humbly knowing that if God chooses to use us, it is by his good pleasure and for his sake alone.
Furthermore, we must dispel thoughts and teachings that portray God as needy and as contingent upon our action to accomplish his will in the world. We must consider that the greatest Work of God in the world—the slaying of his Son for the sake of his people—was done solely by God at a time when none (even his disciples) were willing to stand for his sake. For if Christ died alone and accomplished Salvation for his people alone, he needs no human will or exertion to accomplish his other deeds. Christ reigns as King over his creation, and he will reconcile all things to himself in the appointed time. You can count on it.
Therefore, we must fulfill our days in this light, not as defenders of us defenseless God, but as slaves who are obedient to their Master’s voice. We must obey, even when our obedience does not seem to bear fruit, knowing that God is sovereign over all things and will work all things to their appointed end. We need not worry about what we believe is God’s desire for the world and be frustrated when that does not come to pass, but we should be content in faithful obedience alone knowing that he who holds the universe together by the word of his power will bring his purposes to pass. Amen.