Phil Fischer with Jesus Lives – a devotion on “Smoke and Incense”
Historic wildfires are burning millions of acres and destroying homes and entire towns in California, Oregon, and Washington state. In Oregon, more than 40,000 people have fled their homes. Fire brings about smoke and, in the Bible, sin and wicked people are compared to smoke.
“For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, and kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is burned up, and the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.” Isaiah 9:18-19 (NKJV)
“He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke.”
Psalm 104:32 (NKJV)
Is God judging the United States like He judged Sodom and Gomorrah? Is He reminding Americans He is in control and that now is the time to repent? Only God knows if the fires are an outcome of His wrath and judgment. But, just as with any disaster, good can rise from the ashes of destruction and suffering. One blessing is that people are turning to Christ!
“Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.”
Genesis 19:28 (NKJV)
Calvary Chapel Chino Hills hosted a baptism where over 1000 Christians gave their hearts to the Lord. Could revival be the blessing within this mess? Jack Hibbs invited his congregation to join him for a week of prayer and fasting. Daniel, Nehemiah, Moses, Esther, and Jesus fasted. There are also examples of fasting in the new testament. It was once a common practice but sadly, less so now. The people of Nineveh observed a fast that turned the hand of God’s wrath away. These were people who were far from God, enemies of God’s people.
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?’” Jonah 3:5-9 (NKJV)
“’Now, therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.” Joel 2:12-13 (NKJV)
The prayers of God’s people are compared to incense. They are a sweet-smelling aroma that God enjoys. The altar of incense was situated before the mercy-seat of the Ark. This is a picture of our Advocate’s standing in the presence of the Father (Hebrews 7:25; 9:24). The incense was to burn continually on the altar of incense, which shows the perpetual nature of Christ’s love and advocacy. Christ’s intercession on our behalf is a sweet-smelling savor to God.
“Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)
“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2 (NKJV)
I wish to challenge you to seek God’s face with prayer and fasting. Pray for your country, government leaders, fire and other disaster victims. If you decide to partake in this challenge, be prepared for a spiritual battle. The enemy doesn’t like it when God’s children humble themselves and pray. Daniel had to wait 21 days to receive an answer from God. This nation needs healing but it also needs to turn from the wicked ways it has accepted and repent.
“Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.’” Daniel 10:21-23 (NKJV)