The well-known section of Holy Scripture, in Hebrews 12, which begins with the statement: “Ye are not come unto the mount that burned with fire . . . but ye are come to Mount Zion,” ends with the solemn words: “Our God is a consuming fire”!
Sinai’s burning mount has given place, for the Christian, to the royal grace of Mount Zion and to all that connects itself with the present dispensation of grace, and yet our God—the Christian’s God, the God revealed to us in these last days, and who “has spoken to us in His Son,” is a consuming fire!
If, therefore, Sinai struck terror into the surrounding multitudes, and witnessed, by its fire, the holiness of the Lord, so, too, does our Mount Zion, fragrant as it is of compassion and pardon, declare the holiness of the grace that it freely ministers.
True, the worshipper is not consumed. The believer is a child of God, and enjoys a relationship which at least secures him from all possible judgment. Still, while this is divinely true, the ways of the Christian are tested.
There is such a thing as Christian responsibility. We are bound to fulfil relationship aright. Every position has its responsibilities; and just as grace puts us into positions of favour and dignity, so does it expect us to respond to the nature of such. Yet, being “under grace,” failure does not involve judgment, nor the condemnation that rests on the sinner, but it fully recognises every defect, and thus the offender suffers in time. “Our God is a consuming fire.”
The believer is dealt with in such a way that he must judge evil in his own conduct; he lives before God; he learns His holiness, and gladly allows the withering up of all that is false and unholy in his walk and ways. Grace is never unholy, nor can it allow unholiness in the saints. If the failing saint does not judge himself, then God takes him in hand and governmentally corrects him, so that he may not be “condemned with the world.”
In the light of this the consuming fire which connects itself with Mount Zion is as intelligible as the burning fire of Mount Sinai,
God in law or in grace is equally most holy.