- Words of Divine Comfort— Octavius Winslow, 1872
“For I, myself, will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!” Zech. 2:5
This metaphor is, probably, taken from the practice of travelers in eastern countries, who kindle fires by night around their encampments, to guard them from the approach of prowling beasts of prey. How precious and comforting the truth it illustrates–God, the divine defense and Protector of His people, even a wall of fire round about them by night and by day; so that their enemies, like roaring lions and hungry wolves, seeking to alarm and devour, cannot come near to them, but as He permits. O, my soul! carefully and devoutly consider this precious, this sanctifying truth.
You are traveling hence, through a waste howling wilderness, filled with wild and ferocious beasts; often pitching your tent enshrouded by the darkness and danger of the night, where the roaring lion and the hungry wolf, emerging from their lairs, go forth in quest of prey; and your soul is filled with terror and dismay. But fear not. Greater is He that is for you than those who are against you. He who went before the Church in the wilderness, a pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night–He who encircled Elisha with horses and chariots of fire, when the King of Syria came against him with a huge host, and He who placed the cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the garden of Eden, when man was driven from its Paradise–is a wall of fire round about you; and no foe shall approach you, no threat shall alarm you, no assault shall reach you, no fiery dart shall wound you, not a hair of your head shall be injured, for Israel’s covenant God is a wall of fire round about you by night and by day, and the “beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him.”
Such a wall of protection to His people is the Lord Jesus.“Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What can be more secure? Thus guarded, the work of grace in your soul can never fail. The pulse of spiritual life may beat feebly–the spark of divine love may glow faintly–the principle of faith may act irresolutely–nevertheless, Jesus, who paid too costly a price for your redemption, a part of whose “purchased possession” you are, will never permit the lurking foe, strong and savage and cruel though he be, to hurt you. All His divine perfections–all His gracious safeguards–all His providential dispensations–are round about you. Let this encourage you, O my soul, to be prayerful, and watchful, and circumspect; remembering that, the Lord’s care is not to encourage our carelessness; that, Christ’s intercession is not to supersede our prayerfulness;that, the Savior’s watchfulness is not to throw us off our guard–but, rather to stimulate and encourage us to a vigilant, holy, and close walk with God. Fear not, then, O timid believer, trusting in Jesus. Before Satan can pluck you from His hands, or sin condemn you to hell, or man swallow you up, they must–braving their inevitable destruction–break through this Divine wall of flame, perishing in the very attempt, “for our God is a consuming fire.”
The subject of our present reflection has a solemn, heart-searching bearing towards the unconverted, unsaved soul. If God in Christ is not a wall of fire round about us, He must be, as we have just read, a “consuming fire” against us. And if we are not safe in Jesus, our soul is inevitably and eternally exposed to the burning and unquenchable fire of God’s righteous anger. “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Not one poor sinner who has fled from the wrath that is to come, and is hidden in a cleft of the Divine Rock, Jesus Christ, wounded, bruised, and smitten for us.