Even as I write this, I can see the once piercing blue horizon of my beautiful Colorado skies transformed into a thick haze of billowy smoke. In nearly every direction, the flames stretch skyward as they are fed by howling winds that sing a grim tune. Like a swarm of locusts, the blaze destroys everything in its path while pandemonium breaks out for tens of thousands of souls.
Can you envision sitting peacefully at home enjoying the majesty of God's creation when suddenly within minutes everything you own is put in harm's way? Can you picture all your earthly possessions engulfed in a cauldron of a devouring inferno?
In the Bible, the most common metaphor for the judgment of God is fire, and I'm sure you can see the similarities. Fire comes unexpectedly and destroys everything in its path. God did not send the fires that are burning now, but pay attention to the one that Scripture describes.
The LORD spoke to you from the heart of the fire. You heard the sound of his words but didn't see his form; there was only a voice (Deuteronomy 4:12).
Does not my word burn like fire?"
says the LORD.
"Is it not like a mighty hammer
that smashes a rock to pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29).
The Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze (Daniel 7:9).
But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames (2 Peter 3:10-12).
For our God is a devouring fire (Hebrews 12:29).
I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there-before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death-Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
To be sure, a great deal of life is filled with the piercing blue skies of God's love and mercy, and we as believers can bask in the wonder of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.
But there is a fire coming…
One day - a day coming sooner than we may think - the judgment flames of our holy and righteous God will sweep through this world like a wildfire fueled by a tornado. No more secrets, no more hidden darkness, no more open rebellion-
And no more second chances.
I fully realize that hellfire is not a popular theological concept these days. But the above Bible verses are clearly warning of a coming destruction for those who reject Jesus' free gift of mercy and grace.
That's why we must see each and every person in our lives as a potential "burn victim." We all have friends and family who are in harm's way, and we carry the only evacuation notice that can save them! That's why this little verse tucked away in the closing parts of the New Testament should be a spark that kindles a holy flame inside of us to become God's firefighters: Strive to save others, snatching them out of the fire (Jude 1:23).
Every Christian is called to be a rescuer in light of the coming flames of God's judgment. We don't have the option to leave the firefighting efforts in the hands of others, because the blaze is too big! If you think you need special training or equipment or skills, you are over thinking your mission.
Your training is complete if you can simply tell someone how you placed your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Your equipment is the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Your skill is love for people who are unaware that a consuming inferno is the destiny that awaits them, but can be avoided through simply trusting in Jesus' free gift of forgiveness and salvation.
And when these three elements combine, you can enter the blaze and "snatch" your unsaved friends and family from their helpless and hopeless state of existence apart from a personal relationship with Christ.
Long ago there was a great "firefighter" for God named George Whitfield who led thousands to Christ for THE Cause. And though he was as courageous and bold as any person on earth, he seldom preached without weeping. Why? Because he lived each day carrying the burden that his fellow humans were in the path of God's fiery judgment.
When asked about his constant display of emotion, he replied, "How can I help weeping when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are on the verge of destruction?"
Are you weeping???