And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. ~ Ezekiel 20:47-48
Imagine crying out to a forest filled with an array of different trees. Some alive. Some dead. Some saplings. Others rooted firm in the ground reaching to the heavens. A foolish requirement. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Yet a profound statement to be understood—not only of the trees but also in the kindled flame that devours all. This word isn’t about trees, nor is it about the element of fire. It speaks of judgment and mercy, the God who will consume all things, and the blazing fire which He will send that will touch both the living and the dead.
Do you remember the words of John the Baptist who spoke of the Christ to come? “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The fire directly relates to judgment. I commend that it also relates to something far more unseen and difficult to grasp. Fire is used to purify. The same fire that burns the chaff also refines gold. Just as the winnowing fork is used to “clear His threshing floor” so too is it used to “gather wheat into His barn.” The process of harvesting grain deals with separation by means of trampling the threshing floor. Here a division would occur, separating the grains of wheat from the chaff. So not only does this deal with the eternal separation of the saved and the lost mentioned in Psalm 1; it also signifies a tearing and burning of sin and all that is unprofitable and offends within the life of one who has already been redeemed.
The writer of Hebrews quotes Deuteronomy 4:42 when he says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” The passage in Deuteronomy clarifies the meaning by the proceeding words: “a jealous God.” Jesus does not share His glory with idols. He is the author of life who created all things for His glory and apart from Him there are no other gods. He is jealous for our adoration, worship, praise, honor, and jealous for the totality of our lives. Do you believe that every decision that you make relates to the running to or running from Christ?
“Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee..all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched.”
Two types of trees shall be devoured. What side of the cross are you standing on? One side gazes upon the crucified Son. In believing in Him they are made alive, are sanctified, and are being conformed to the image of Christ. They’ve come to the end of themselves and walk with a radiance that glows with a burning desire for the heart of God that cannot be quenched. On the other side are the unredeemed sons of disobedience who refuse to surrender and are unable to behold Christ. They await the fiery judgment reserved for the enemies of God at the end of the age.
What is green and being made alive in you, has Christ set it ablaze? What remains dry and dead, has the flaming flame reduced it to ashes?