Ministering the Fire

by Morris Ruddick on January 8, 2014


(c) Morris E. Ruddick


Note: For more than two years I have been earnestly praying into what defines biblical leadership; what it is that makes us different from the world. Prayers like this tend to open the doors for not only fresh insights into God’s word, but also encounters and observations of ones who exemplify the standard and those who have experienced stumbling. The Kingdom standard indeed is higher; much higher with a goal reserved for ones who have chosen the narrow path in more than lip-service, but in their steadfastness to speak truth in their own hearts and pay the cost in deed.

James admonishes not reach for the mantle of teacher, unless that indeed is the calling, because teachers will be judged more strictly. So it is with leaders. With my primary Romans 12 motivational gift being leadership, I take those admonitions very seriously.

I have been uniquely blessed with the caliber of true Kingdom leaders the Lord has allowed me to work alongside. In each case, they have been unequivocal God-pleasers; for some at a high cost. In each case, they have also been servants, despite the level of authority their mantles reflect. It is with those thoughts in mind, that in revisiting a post I sent out in 2011, that I saw something more; and reshaped, renamed and upgraded it for this turn of the year; this turning prophetically that lies before us all.



“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Lev 10: 1-2 NASU

God’s glory, operating through Moses, led the children of Israel out of bondage and to the threshold of the Promised Land. Having appeared to Moses in a burning bush, God’s awesome, holy presence has a long history of being evidenced with fire. Likewise, from the pillar of fire by night to the demonstration of the tongues of fire with the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost; the demonstration of fire has punctuated His power accompanying a holy and pure mantle. Whether in deed or worship, fire has long been linked to the activated holiness of God’s presence.

What took place with the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, involved a short-circuiting of the process by which the glory of the Lord was extended in blessing to the people.

The NKJV version describes what the NASU version describes as strange fire, as profane fire. In short, it was unauthorized and unholy. It undermined the process and literally backfired on the ones who were trying to misapply the power.

The intended purpose of the process is described in the last sequence of Leviticus 9:
“Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
Lev 9:22-24

God’s glory demonstrated by fire can be directed toward either blessing His people or releasing judgment. God’s glory is not to be trifled with or misused. Nor is it to be idly modified. The presence and power of God is an awesome thing. The fine line between extending blessing or releasing judgment can be better discerned with a closer look at other biblical examples and practices manifesting the glory and presence of God.

Pure Demonstrations of His Presence
Elijah had more than a single instance whereby God’s power was demonstrated by fire. As Ahab allowed his sorcery-wielding wife Jezebel to undermine Israel’s heart toward God, the heavens were shut up and there was great famine (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25).

Elijah’s face-off with the forces of darkness dramatically employed the power of God before the people. He first released judgment and then blessing, with the drought being ended, after he rebuilt the altar of God in the prescribed manner (1 Kings 18:30); and “the hearts of the people were turned back to the Lord.”

Then 2 Kings 1 describes authority-encounters, answered by fire, that consumed two captains of fifty and their men who had been sent to bring Elijah to the king. Only when the third captain of fifty humbled himself before Elijah did the Angel of the Lord tell Elijah to forego further judgment and to go with him.

A closer glimpse of the awesome significance of the fire from heaven is captured in Elijah’s final moment on the earth. The powerful threshold into God’s presence was marked by a chariot of fire and horses of fire that separated him from Elisha as he was taken up (2 Kings 2). Witnessing Elijah being taken to heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha described the chariot and horses of fire as the Chariot of Israel.

It was later that Elisha had his own power encounter with the armies of Syria that carried the demonstration of the same chariots of fire. 2 Kings 6 describes those chariots as surrounding Elisha.

Stewarding God’s Power
It is noteworthy that two of the three temptations the devil brought to Jesus involved the profane, misuse of power: “Command that these stones be made bread” and “throw yourself down, for it is written ‘He will give His angels charge over you.'” The third involved the enticement of corrupt power: “All these things I will give to you.”

Each of these temptations was a profane, unauthorized means to replicate and bypass the power that comes from God’s glory. They represented myopic, religious defilements of God’s power and counterfeits of both the glory and the blessing.

The bottom line to this issue is the power of God and its application. The misapplication will not only pervert the pure power and undermine it, but eventually will backfire on the ones who have presumed to design their own process for the sacrifice; or who don’t bear the anointing and authority required; or both.

Before becoming the pure sacrifice that would bring fulfillment to what was outlined by the law and the prophets, Jesus gave his followers the sacrament of communion. Communion is a New Covenant practice paralleling the Leviticus 9 process to actuate the glory that releases the blessing and power of God.

The Glory and the Blessing
In that context the Apostle Paul warns of taking the sacrament of communion unworthily, noting that some who have done so have fallen sick and even died (2 Cor 11). Communion is a sober, humble time of drawing into the Lord’s presence. Its potency is strongly recognized by those coming out of the occult before becoming believers. It is a time of exchanging the defiled for the pure.

The early church was known for its focus of teaching, prayer, fellowship and communion (Acts 2:42). Communion was a catalyst to the awesome power released among the first century believers. The impact of that power was described in Acts 5: “Great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

As the community of early believers was being mobilized and God’s power released, the apostles called for additional sacrifice from its members. Within this setting, is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They trifled with and modified the sacrifice. Their “sacrifice” was done through deceit for wrong purposes: of gaining the recognition and favor of the leaders. The profaneness of their sacrifice touched the pure power of God and like Nadab and Abihu, it backfired on them.

Today, the misapplication of the glory and blessing suggests why, for so many within the Body, that the power is either anemic or it backfires.

Applying Law of Christ
The proper application of the blessing was labeled by Paul as the law of Christ (Gal 6:2), which he described as “bearing one another’s burdens.” The foundation of this dynamic is outlined in Isaiah 53:4 and Matthew 8:17: “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.”

Paul wrote Timothy (2 Tim 3:5) to beware of those who are caught up in themselves with a form of godliness, but whose lives are a denial of its power. Yet, those genuinely anointed to lead, whether as priests, prophets or apostles will wield the glory and blessing, often walking into the face of darkness with a purity and authority that makes the darkness flee.
“Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love; …be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by defiled flesh.”
Jude 20-23 NIV

Jesus penetrated the spiritual veil (Heb 6:19-20) to embrace the pure power that scatters darkness. This is the process restored. It is the demonstration of the fullness actuated by Jesus’ victory over death. It has been passed to those anointed leaders paying the cost to access the veil and fulfill the law of Christ by destroying the works of the devil.

It’s not an intellectual proposition, but rather the means by which the power of the glory is to be extended in blessing to the people. It is the Kingdom that Jesus said would suffer violence, with the persevering standing in the face of darkness to take it by force. It is the piercing of the veil that seizes and restores. It carries the tangible potential that during the time of the early church resulted in even non-believers “carrying the sick out into the streets so that at least the shadow of Peter might fall on some of them” Acts 5:15.

The Fullness of the Process
Jesus embodied the process during His earthly ministry as He set the captives free and destroyed the works of the devil. His followers took up the mantle as they were emptied and offered themselves as pure vessels to take up the infirmities and carry the sorrows. They took on themselves the anger, fears, confusion, deceptions, deceit, disorder and multitude of infirmities of those they encountered, with the authority to reverse the bondages and to loose the bonds of the captives.
“The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”
Acts 8:6-8

The same Philip the evangelist who performed the miracles described in Acts 5 was sent by an angel to an Ethiopian eunuch of great authority who was pondering the truths in Isaiah 53 (Acts 8:26). When Paul instructed Timothy in 2 Tim 3:16 that “ALL scripture is inspired by God,” it preceded the time when his letters had been canonized; and was a referral to the foundations of the faith evidenced throughout the Old Covenant. Similarly, Jesus punctuated the connection to these same truths on the road to Emmaus.
“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”
Luke 24:28 NASU

What followed was Jesus’ resurrected unveiling being fully recognized through the breaking of bread (Luke 24:35). The narrow path outlined by Jesus, along with the truths and miracles demonstrated throughout the book of Acts have the same pivotal foundation of God’s glory and power that was demonstrated by fire in Leviticus 9. So it was during the days of the early Church that the impact of the undefiled glory, extended in blessing, resulted in “believers increasingly being added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” Acts 5:14

The Pure Fire of Glory and Power
Strange fire results from polluting the pure. Jesus warned of strange fire through the parable of the tares. When attempting to mix the impure with the pure, it backfires.

Pure fire is the most potent catalyst to the release of the blessing and power of God. It is also the most powerful response to encounters with aggressive strongholds, and actuates the release of judgment. However, strange fire results when the pure process is modified or defiled with a replacement.

Strange fire and replacement of the purity of God’s process has been at the core of the enemy’s strategy from the beginning. The pure was defiled by eating the forbidden fruit in the garden. Similarly, the pure process was corrupted by the sons of Aaron, just as the profane was added by Ananias and Sapphira. The defilement of the pure was reflected by the Hellenization of the Gospel, the expungement of the Jewish roots to the faith by Constantine; and in each instance whereby the precepts of men employed the seductive use of strange fire that impeded entrance within the veil. It is within the veil that the pure fire is released.

The times demand not just the pure fire, but the restoration of the holy process without the polluted add-ons. Daniel noted that in the time of the end many would be purified and refined, but that wickedness would increase and abound. The times upon us are bordering between the times of sorrow spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24 and the times of the end described by Daniel. Wickedness is on the increase and abounding.

A recent dream received by a respected ministry associate showed three gargoyles; one with its hands over its ears, another with its hands over its eyes and the third with its hands over its mouth. From the pit has been released an assault of spiritual deafness, spiritual blindness and a perversion of spiritual authority.

High-level religious spirits wielding deception and confusion have been planting disorder and division (James 3:16) among the very elect. The cleverness of the clever will fall short. It is the time Jesus described (Matt 24) in which “many will be offended and betray one another; false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

The Unstoppable Dynamic
The early church was seen by the world as “those who are turning the world upside down.” Their faith-response involved sacrifice and, as a people, THEY became the catalysts to releasing the Glory and Power. There’s nothing to compare with that complete exchange of His life for ours, within community, to actuate the maturity spoken of by Paul to the Ephesians.

True spiritual maturity in leadership is evidenced by those who take responsibility beyond their selves, face the fire, and penetrate the veil to reverse the bondages. The full knowledge of the Lord (Eph 4) is not a head-thing or the resolution of all our soulish issues; but rather an operational decision.

That doesn’t come from a Sunday-go-to meeting, adapted to-the-world orientation. It demands a pure Kingdom mind-set and identity; by which we live by dying, our weaknesses become the seedbed for His strength, we advance by yielding and lead by serving, we bless our enemies, wisdom comes from simplicity, our purpose in life comes from giving it up, honor flows from humility and growth results from proactive generosity. Jesus raised the bar.

We are in a time in which the wisdom and power that flowed in the early church is being restored. Those wielding the mantle of pure fire will pierce the extremes of darkness with God’s glory and power. The pure fire has always been tied to God’s presence and the consumption of darkness in its wake. The word to the church for this day is to reach for the fire, the pure fire.
“If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how will you contend with horses? If in the land of peace in which you trusted, they wearied you then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?”
Jer 12:5
“For the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives to the death.”
Rev 12:10-11

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