The heat of a furnace
By Lars Widerberg
Prophecy finds its birth in fire. The prophetic dimension is sustained by fire. The prophet brings fire. A prophetic utterance demands a listener to give himself to the fire on the altar. Prophecy brings separation eternal values are one with the fire, earthly desires cannot share this communion.
The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. Ps 12:6. Apprehending a word from a furnace requires a heart willing to adjust to intense temperatures and pressure. The first requirement of the prophetic realm is a heart which is willing to bear the ferocity of the aliveness of heavenly realities. The fire of the furnace produces a mind perplexed and shattered by the complexity and otherness of the thoughts of God; a mind ready to violate common codes of the self-sustaining structures which defines and defends manageable religion.
Micah, a minor prophet, had taken the necessary steps into the fire, and he knew the reality of heavenly heat and pursuit, and wrote: But I am full of strength and skill and courage, inspired by the Eternal, to let Jacob know its crimes, and Israel its sins. Leaders of Jacob, listen to this, you judges over the house of Israel, who spurn at justice and twist equity, who build your Sion up with bloodshed and Jerusalem on crime, judges passing verdicts for a bribe, priests pattering oracles for pay prophets divining for money, and all the while relying on the Eternal. Micah 3:8-11 Moffatt.
What kind of man dares to go; what kind of inner constitution will carry a man into the presence of men of authority of this world as well as before the revelling, raging mob bringing words with fire? What kind of burden, what kind of inner pressure produces enough bravery to allow a man to reduce himself to mere sacrifice, a burnt offering, an offering by fire? What happens in the secret place, what is wrought in the inner parts of man to for the sake of bringing forth moral stamina corresponding with the words from the furnace of Heaven?
Too many among us dismiss the burning bush as yet another thorn bush devoured by spontaneous combustion. The prophetic mind is occupied with the maintenance of and the operations of the fire of God. A prophets heart is set on fire, it burns because God speaks. A word purged seven times will bring fire. A word from the Lord reveals what His fire is like.
The main concern of the prophet is the fire itself. Fire is the driving force in his life. The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, it may under no circumstances be quenched and the prophet is there, brought into office, to keep it burning. This fundamental necessity has taken him into the priestly realm, into the business and ministry of priesthood. A mind set on fire, occupied with the fire, is a mind given to priestliness. A priest cannot allow the fire to fade, to be quenched, to go out. A priest cannot allow the realities of Heaven to fade; the testimony may never fade.
A testimony of the heavenly realities carries the fire of the altar at its core. The fire ignites words a testimony is not words, a prophecy does not consist of words primarily but is an outburst of heavenly fire. Baptized with fire. Baptized with passion for reality. A prophetic word brings purging. A word from the furnace brings separation. It never leaves the people slumbering with an All is well. It reveals necessary pursuits of holiness to be made by a righteous people. The fire provokes positively where righteousness is already rooted. The very same fire disqualifies and destroys where unrighteousness has established inroads.
The disposition of the prophetic man is to be defined by the fire itself. It is not generated by sternness holiness is not harsh, not stirred by lively imagination or a bright intellect, not produced by strange moodiness or altered states of perception. Coming out from the presence, having been at the furnace, having had an opportunity to look into His face all this, and nothing but this makes a heart burn and sets a mind on fire.
Why is the prophet of the Old Testament times so alive to, so direct and immediate in his approach as to moral issues? Why is he dramatically on target in relation to dealing with malicious practices among his people, even among foreign nations? Why do we suffer from charismatic shallowness regarding sin, regarding attempts to promote injustice, regarding any and every evil practice? Why do we suffer from a common charismatic shallowness regarding prophetic negligence in this realm? Baptized with Spirit, but not with fire. Baptized into spiritual pragmatism and religious conformity, but not with the Holy Spirit and His fire.
The fire is gone from the altar. The priest and the prophet are not present and in proper position for its maintenance. There is no passion for heavenly realities. The state of affairs is worse, much worse than when a minor prophet stood up to speak to a nation gone astray. How did he dare to speak? How long do we have to wait for a prophet carrying a burden of that kind again? Is there anybody ready to give himself to the altar? Is there anybody out there ready for that fire?