I have come to set fire to the earth! And how I wish it were already kindled! Luk 12:49
In the bible we read that the earth will be destroyed by fire.
But the present heaven and the present earth have been kept for destruction by fire, which is waiting for them on the day of the judging and destruction of evil men. 2Pe 3:7
When Jesus said that he wants to set the earth on fire, this is not what he is talking about. At least not as we first understand it.
Secondly, God will not destroy the earth with fire the way we think. It is not our heaven and earth we are living in Peter is talking about here.
Thirdly, the heavens and earth already burnt up. And in a way still is burning.
The present age Peter was writing his letter in was the old creation. The old covenant was still in place and lived out, even though to no effect. But its elements were still offered up in the temple. It was that temple, that age, that creation, that heaven and earth that burnt up 70 AD. And since then, the old creation, living under the law either consciously or unconsciously, burns. That is why Peter talks of the destruction of evil men. Those are bound for the lake of fire.
While the new creation is going to thrive for eternity. A renewed heaven and a renewed earth, a new creation, created at the cross when Jesus said: “It is finished.”
In this light we better understand what Jesus meant when he said that he came to put the world on fire.
He is talking about the baptism of fire that burns off the remainders of the old creation – all the bad memories that want to keep us down, earth bound. The same baptism of fire that wants to refine the gold in us. And it wants to burn as an internal power driving us forward.
In Joel we read about the army of the Lord:
A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and none hath escaped them … Like the sound of war- carriages they go jumping on the tops of the mountains; like the noise of a flame of fire burning up the grain- stems, like a strong people lined up for the fight. Joe 2:3.5
After the army, after the people of the Lord as mature sons of God have gone through, nothing is the same any more. Everything changed. What looked great, but was fruitless like stubble, turns into what it was all along: a desert. Burnt land.
If we burn, we have this effect: everything around us either gets cleansed through the fire or burns up. If I burn for God, nothing in my surroundings can stay indecisive. What a great effect.
We still live in the age of grace. There still is time for us to get kindled. But we know quite well that our lives here on earth can be terminated any time. No, I am not talking about Jesus’ return. I am talking about our own limited lifespan. I do not know when Jesus will come back, and I do not know when I die. All I know: I want to burn, so I don’t burn up in the end.
Remember the stone that one either throws himself upon and crushes – letting go of self, ego, one’s own will – or the stone will crush him, utterly destroying him.
Remember that hay, wood, and stubble will burn, but silver, gold, and precious stones will last.
Either I burn now – burning all left overs of a time long gone, and burning with desire for him – or I burn then.
Make your choice.