I saw an ad the other day that simply said, “Secondhand smoke kills.” Of course it was talking about smokers and those nearby who inhale the lingering leftovers. Since I don’t smoke (or chew or hang out with girls who do!) my thinking landed on a different plane, transported back to Old Testament times.
In quick succession, I thought of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Then Moses on Mt. Sinai, approaching the ‘thick darkness where God was…’ (Exodus 20:21). And the three Hebrew young men who were thrown by King Nebuchadnezzar into the blazing furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual at his command.
Three distinctions stood out, each one unveiling another step upward on the journey to God Himself.
In the case of the burning bush, Moses turned aside (out of curiosity, Scripture records), from the familiar to look at the unfamiliar. God saw him looking and He called to him.
Quite a story takes place between Exodus chapters 3 and 20, and now Moses found himself at the base of Mt. Sinai when the LORD descended on top. Once again, God called to Moses and waited in billowing smoke while Moses hiked up to the summit, there to converse with God face to face.
The third notable ‘smoky’ story centered around three brave young administrators over the province of Babylon. They were God’s finest on duty in the midst of that heathen, idol-worshipping nation. Chapters 1-3 of Daniel recount the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, with the gauntlet being thrown down in chapter 3, verses 17 and 18. The three declared with unwavering stance, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Period.
Guess Who showed up at the barbecue? Excuse me, Who showed up in the barbecue.
As the walk down biblical memory lane faded, there rose up in me dissatisfaction at the thought of being relegated to receiving God’s secondhand smoke. My heart longs to be completely enveloped in His firsthand smoke because ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ – the fire of His Presence.
Is it evident to you just how much the Lord God longs to fill your atmosphere with His presence and have you acknowledge that yes, He is here? Don’t miss the patience with which He deals with us, even as He already knows the end from the beginning. For our example,
*He strategically set Himself as a burning bush in Moses’ path (He does know how to get our attention!).
*When He was assured that Moses was set on following after Him, He settled in on the highest place and called to Moses again, then waited as long as necessary for the uphill trek to take place (climbing the steep ascent to the heart of God is not easy, but He provides the grace to accomplish what He’s asked or commanded us to do).
*Finally, He showed us what it looks like on Monday morning when the day takes a decided downward turn, what the courage and faith of those who unswervingly trust the God they serve can do…
No singed hair; no burned-up clothing; no secondhand smoke…only the life-giving fragrance of Holy Smoke.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
©2010 Nancy C. Bentz – Author’s permission granted to forward this devotional piece in its entirety, including this copyright line. For more devotionals, to leave a comment, or to subscribe to this blog, visit https://shammahsfield.com