The mountains are on fire! A month ago we were hiking just a few miles from our home. We had trekked well over a mile into the woods when we heard the sound of a helicopter. We couldn’t see it because of the tall trees so we kept on hiking and talking. During the next hour we continued to hear the helicopter and after we had turned back to head to the car we finally saw it. It was flying back and forth every few minutes carrying a large bucket of water beneath it. We realized what it all meant, the forest was on fire! We were grateful we did not smell smoke because that meant it was not in our proximity. We headed for home and sought a newscast that could inform us on the location of the fire.
Our forest was more parched than we had ever seen. Meteorologists diagnosed it as an extreme drought. Leaves on the trees were curled inward and hanging limp on the trees. Many turned brown without changing into bright fall colors because they died of thirst. It had been sad to watch our vibrant forest silently screaming for water. All of the waterfalls nearby were reduced to trickles and the rivers and streams were narrow creeks full of rocks that were under water in normal conditions.
In mid-October we drove a couple of hours north to see the beginning of the fall leaf season. The trees were beautiful and we visited several of our favorite areas before turning back home. The fires began to blaze within the month and we could smell the smoke at our home. One fire was within an hour of our home and another large one was two or three hours away. It was exactly where we had visited a few weeks prior. Several of the 29 fires burning were set by an arsonist. Another was started by lightning, from the last rain we had received over a month ago. The winds prevailed out of the north and blew the smoke into our area and it collected in the valley behind our home. We were unable to participate in any out-door activities because of the thick smoky cloud. Day after day a dingy grey cloud blocked the view of the mountains behind us except for the outline of the ridge. With no rain and lake levels terribly low, the mountain fires were difficult to contain, much less extinguish. They continue to burn as I write.
I have discovered several benefits from forest fires. A forest fire can bring a dense forest full of unhealthy trees and foliage back to life by:
- Removing dead and decaying plants that are fire hazards.
- Eliminating dense foliage thinning the overgrowth so that new seedlings can grow.
- Yielding nutrients and minerals from the charred plants and depositing them on the forest floor.
- Opening more space between plants for the sunshine and rain to fall, allowing growth and better health.
- Enabling fireweed to grow helps restore a forest. It thrives on the nutrient rich soil the fire provided. (National Geographics).
The fire of God has the same benefits for the church and individual believer that forest fires do for the mountains. By observing the history of the church since Pentecost, we see God ignites “Revival Fires” within His people to restore and re-invigorate them. Isaiah, one of the prophets of God in the Bible, experienced the fire of God after a very dry season in Israel’s life. King Uzziah of Israel was not obedient to God’s Law. He failed to destroy the “high places” of idol worship throughout the nation of Israel. God had forbidden Israel to serve the false gods of other nations and the king was responsible to lead the people into righteousness. King Uzziah failed his God and his nation, causing the people to continue to sin. This spiritual compromise resulted in their loss of faith in God. Faith that had once been vibrant and pure became dried and dead from a lack of nurturing. The people began to call evil good and good evil. Israel was in danger of God’s judgment. King Uzziah died of leprosy. The death of King Uzziah marked the end of an age of “flesh” living without seeking God’s will, and it inaugurated Isaiah’s prophetic ministry.
Isaiah had a vision of the Lord in heaven seated upon His throne. God’s train (robe) which represented His Glory, filled the heavenly temple and Isaiah was struck by the awe and wonder of God’s holiness. He became aware of his own sinful flesh as he observed the beauty of holiness. (Isaiah 6:1-9). Any person who enters the presence of the Lord will be keenly aware that God is holy and man is of flesh. The holy presence of God is completely humbling. It is like looking into a mirror. A mirror shows our outward flaws but the Spirit of God reveals our inward sins. Isaiah could hear the seraphim crying out to each another “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” That revelation humbled Isaiah and he repented of his sin. The Lord sent the seraphim with a coal of “fire” to cleanse Isaiah’s lips. God needed to purify Isaiah’s mouth so that He could fill it with His Word for the people.
The Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) asked a question as Isaiah observed the Lord’s throne room. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?” Having been cleansed and emboldened by the fire of God, Isaiah volunteered to speak for God to His people.
Something similar happened at Pentecost after Jesus had been raised from the dead. The prophetic voice of God had not been heard for 400 years before Jesus’ ministry began. Many people and Jewish leaders were dry and parched because of their sin. They had practiced their religion but they had no life because they had compromised God’s Word and forfeited His presence due to neglect. Jesus taught His disciples for three years and after he rose from the dead, visited them several times. He gave them their commission to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and charged them to go into all the world. He had told the disciples (12 plus 108 others = 120) after He ascended, to wait in the upper room until the Holy Spirit came upon them. Fifty days later the fire of God fell upon each and every head in that upper room. They were all filled (immersed) with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with new tongues. Peter, the most transformed disciple, experienced a remarkable change. He was formerly the one who denied the Lord during His trial, because of fear of persecution. Remarkably, the fire of God so powerfully affected him that he boldly preached the first Gospel message of the New Testament church in the same streets of Jerusalem. (See Acts 2). The Fire of God revives His people!
Today, the church of God is poised for revival! Many have become dry, complacent, and weary. The battles and challenges to remain true to the Word of God while not conforming to the ways of the world have worn down many in the faith. Our high tech culture can easily distract us and a overabundance of activities vie for our time. We can subtly begin to neglect our study and prayer time with the Lord which causes a wilted and parched faith. Earthly idols have drawn our attention from the Living Water and severe drought has set in. It is not God’s will to judge His church, He desires to send revival to restore us. When we fail to be salt and light to the world, we have become ineffective in our culture. His mercy draws us until we become desperate for His Fire to ignite us again, restoring the flames of love salvation had kindled.
The Fire of God benefits the church by:
- Removing dead and decaying works that don’t bear fruit.
- Eliminating dead relationships which stunt growth so that new life emerges.
- Feeding, fueling and energizing our love for Him and our zeal to serve Him and obey His Word.
- Restoring our communication with Him in the Secret Place of the Most High, making it our necessity for sustaining His Life in us.
- Reviving His church and initiating and restoring spiritual gifts and the call of God.
We need our torch to be re-lit by the fire of God so that we can take our place of authority ushering in the Kingdom of God to the earth. Solomon gave the charge to Israel and it is just as relevant to the church today: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
We are not waiting for God, He is waiting for us. We must stop looking for others to lead. The desperation to see God move on earth today like He did at Pentecost will pressure us to cry out to the Lord like Isaiah saying, “Send me”. Those who are not satisfied with what we have experienced in God and long for a move of God which will impact our nation and the world. They will be willing to intercede until Revival comes!
The church the Lord Jesus died for was not to be buildings filled with people sitting in pews. Nor was it simply to find a place to serve others so that we felt we had contributed to society. The church He died for was to be so filled with His Holy Spirit that we would do the same works that He did: heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. The Word of God is to be so powerful in us that we are consumed with the Kingdom and draw it to earth as He did. Those who love their God are bold as a lion, fear nothing and no one because they KNOW their God.
The dissatisfaction we have been feeling can be summed up in a question, “Is this all there is?” That question will catapult us to a place of holy desperation for more. When the church becomes desperate enough to cry out for more of God, we are ripe for revival.
I have smelled the smoke and seen the cloud. It’s time to get on our knees and remain there until we are empowered with Fire from on high, because we all know where there’s smoke, there’s fire!