When we lived out in the county on Holden Road, we had over an acre of yard around the house.  At the road, there were ditches ten feet deep.  It was not feasible to cut the growth in the ditch with my lawn mower, so I would look forward to burning it each year.

Occasional fire keeps things in check.  It burns away the dead material which allows new growth to take over.  Burns also kill the non-native plants which are intolerant to the fire.  

The deep-rooted native plants are capable of withstanding the heat and are not affected.

The benefits of a natural fire far outweigh the temporary charred-earth appearance.  The black only lasts for a week or two but the benefits of the controlled burn last much longer.  Among them are:

·         Nutrient recycling
·         Helps with seed germination by exposing soil to the sun earlier in the year.
·         Controls non-native plants and invasion of woody plants[i]

Jesus came to bring a controlled burn on the earth.  It was God’s desire to burn away that which was dead and did not belong in His domain. 

Luke 12:
 49 "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."


Sometimes the call to follow Jesus brings your family connectedness into question.  To whom is your ultimate allegiance?  Who must you separate from to find a new identity in God’s promise?  Jesus was a prophet with a message for the family-nation Israel.  His words would be hurtful-- just like the prophets God sent in ancient times to correct and restore their identity as God’s children. 

His fire was God’s judgment.  It had not yet been kindled, but the day of fire was approaching when God would burn away all that was not useful to His Kingdom.  God is going to burn away false securities in families.  Jesus looked forward to God re-ordering human relationships by separating good and evil influences.

Through the Old Testament era, God focused on His special family—Israel.  It was necessary to send prophets who would speak burning, passionate words from the heart of God.  Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, because of his many tears for God’s family.

Jeremiah 5:
11 The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me," declares the LORD.
 12 They have lied about the LORD; they said, "He will do nothing!  No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.
 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them."
 14 Therefore this is what the LORD God Almighty says:  "Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.

There were so-called prophets in the land, but there words were powerless.  God was empowering Jeremiah to speak words that would burn.  Jesus’ message would cause dramatic change when listened to and permitted to burn.