This painting by Rembrandt tells the remarkable story of God’s welcoming, always available, constantly renewing and restoring love. No sin is too great for God to forgive, no distance too far for His love to reach, no rebellion His love cannot overcome.
God’s love appears as cleansing fire. He appeared in the midst of the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends. The fire was so hot that it killed the men who threw them in. But they emerged unharmed, because the presence of God (the 4th Person) appeared to them in the fire and protected them. The fire was not God’s fire, rather it was the fire of the devil intended to destroy these three men. But God appeared in the fire and redeemed them by His love; so it became the fire of God’s presence.
How many of God’s people are walking through the fires today, or persecution, debilitating illnesses and diseases, chronic pain, loss of income or houses, as well as many other things. But God is walking with each of His children, even in the midst of the fires.
But there is the fire of God which we may choose: the fire of God’s purifying love. God’s fire purifies us by melting the hardest substance in the world, which is our hearts. His Spirit burns through hardened hearts and melts them, producing brokenness. When we are baptized with this Fire of God our hearts are opened and we are broken before Him, ready to be remolded just as the silversmith remolds precious metals that he has melted into beautiful works of art.
Then God’s Holy Spirit has full control of our lives. Is this not the desire of every child of God? To have a burning heart for Jesus!
God is refining His Church today through Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. The desire of each member of the Community of the Holy Fire is for God to continue His work of purification by fire in our lives, so that the mark of our lives will be clearly seen to be holiness before the Lord.