Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jeremia 23,29) and our Lord Jesus Christ says: I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12,49)
Fire is a powerful thing. Not only from volcanoes, but also in veld- and bushfires. Lot’s of damage can be done if fires run away and get out of control. Whole cities get destroyed that way. Just think of Dresden, which was a outsized furnace in those last days of the last world war. Rock on the other hand is a powerful thing in itself. It can withstand lots of pressure and is used to break other stuff and withstand and protect against this and that. I think of rock walls surrounding the cattle kraal at my grandfathers place or the path plastered with rocks to bear those people transversing to and fro for some years to come.
The great, serious and severly punished prophet Jeremiah points out that the Lord’s holy Word is like fire inside and outside. It eats you up from inside to get out. It burns and scathes outside, whatever comes into its reach. It’s also like that strong and mighty hammer, which crushes rocks to pieces – leaving nothing whole nor intact, but rather broken and in harmless pebbles and stones. It’s because if the Lord speaks it happens. His utterances are not mere rhetorics, but rather realistic facts to reckon with. It makes reality. It is reality. If he speaks it is there! His Law shows our sins and transgressions without fail and leaves us without excuse, because he is just and righteous and his judgements are true and without failing whatsoever. Rather each one receives his deserved verdict and leaves nobody but himself truly in charge and controll. In the same unfailing manner his holy gospel forgives all our iniquities and sinful evils, so that it stands as surely and positively here on earth as there in heaven. He declares sinners righteous, calls dead to life and those long perished and gone he calls them back into blessed being, resurrected to life everlasting with him in eternal salvation and blessedness.
Well, just look how the Word of the Lord grows! (Martin H. Franzmann) From a small mustard seed it has grown to that large tree spreading its branches over the entire globe and the birds of the heavens and people of all nations find rest, peace and holy sanctuary under/in it. Oh, yes the Lord kindled a huge fire – and it’s burning across the whole world. Everywhere people seek out its light and blessed warmth – and those who dread and fear it, can’t flee from it anywhere. For wherever they go, he’s there already – the Lord and God of all. Ah yes, he has kindled that fire alright and the apostles and prophets carried it into all parts of the world even into the darkest corners and most hidden shadows so that today there is nowhere without this holy Word of the living God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even today it still has its ferocious power to kill, destroy and annihilate, but also to heal, forgive, make alive and grant peace. His Word remains in eternity for he will not only destroy the old world in fire, but also create the new world in goodness & mercy. It sure is something to look forward to, because he is faithful and will surely do it – for us and our salvation. Amen.
We pray: God’s Word is our great heritage And shall be ours forever; To spread its light from age to age Shall be our chief endeavor. Through life it guides our way, In death it is our stay. Lord, grant, while worlds endure, We keep its teachings pure. Throughout all generations. (Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1783-1872)