Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 23, 1967
NUMBER 29, PAGE 8b-9

"Ye That Kindle A Fire"

Hoyt H. Houchen

A statement in the 50th chapter of Isaiah presents a practical lesson for us today. Coupled with the prophecy of the Messiah who was to come some 700 years later, Jehovah revealed why the Jews had been rejected and punished in Babylonian captivity. He had shown in this chapter that the Jews had not been punished without a cause, that it was not as a husband who had put away his wife for no reason, but it was because of their sins that they were being punished. "Behold, for your iniquities were ye sold, and for your transgressions was your mother put away." (Vs.1). The Jews had brought their calamities upon themselves. Instead of trusting in God, they had trusted in their own resources.

In the last portion of the chapter, Jehovah addressed the wicked with these words: "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that gird yourselves about with firebrands; walk ye in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of my hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow." (Vs. 11). The idea here is that the wicked would not walk in the light of God's word but they would choose to kindle their own fire and walk in it. Albert Barnes makes the following observation upon this verse: "The phrase, 'that kindle a fire,' refers to all the plans which men form with reference to their own salvation; all which they rely upon to guide them through the darkness of this world. It may include, therefore, all the schemes of human philosophy, of false religion, of heathenism, of infidelity, deism, and self-righteousness; all dependence on our good works, our charities, and our prayers. All these are false lights which men enkindle, in order to guide themselves when they resolve to cast off God, to renounce his revelation, and to resist his Spirit." (Notes on Isaiah, Part 2, p.224.) Although Barnes was a Presbyterian, his comments upon this verse are excellent and deserve careful consideration.

Many sermons have been preached upon "Strange Fires," a topic taken from Lev. 10:1-3 where it is recorded that Nadab and Abihu, the two sons of Aaron, "offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them." As a result of their disobedience, fire came forth from Jehovah and devoured them, and they died. From this text, we have repeatedly emphasized the importance of doing exactly what God says to do and in the way that He said to do it. When men add to what He had enjoined, or substitute for it, or take away from it, they are offering "strange fires," those that God has not authorized. The case of Nadab and Abihu takes care of the argument made by the advocates of mechanical instruments of music in worship that "God did not say not to use them." The same Albert Barnes who made the good comments on Isaiah 50:11, made this comment on Eph. 5:19: "The prevailing character of music in the worship of God should be vocal. If instruments are employed, they should be subordinate that the service may be characterized as singing." (Notes on the New Testament, Ephesians, p.105.) Had the Presbyterian commentator been as discriminating in his study of Eph. 5:19 as he was in that of Isa. 50:11, he would have had no difficulty in concluding that mechanical instruments of music were not even subordinate, they are unauthorized, therefore, they are sinful in worship. It is amazing that many such capable men have been able to set forth the principles that are taught in the scriptures, but unable to make the application. This has ever been a difficulty and few, if any, have been purely free from this error.

Many are the fires that are being kindled today. For instance, those who have substituted sprinkling and pouring for baptism disregard God's way and they walk in their own light. We read in I John 1:7, "but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin." What does it mean to walk in the light? It means to walk in the light of God's word, His teaching, truth. When we walk in the light, we are submitting ourselves to the will of God by obeying that will. When we do not submit ourselves to God's will, but instead follow our own way, we are then walking in our own light, by a fire that we have kindled. Baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12) and there is no scriptural authority for sprinkling and pouring. Every denomination today upon the face of the earth exists as a consequence of the fires which have been kindled by men.

Brethren have kindled many fires and they are walking in the light of those flames. Aglow are such fires as churches pooling their monetary resources in one church as exists in the sponsoring church arrangements of the Herald of Truth, "campaigns for Christ," youth meetings, and youth camps. Human tires are aglow in such practices as churches monetarily supporting benevolent and academic institutions, recreational facilities, "fellowships" of eating, drinking, and partying. The light of God's word is not enough for these brethren, other fires must be kindled as is evidenced by what is taking place. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." (Jno. 8:12.) Really, those who claim to walk in the light of their fires do not walk in light at all. They are walking in darkness. "If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." (I Jno. 1:6.)

"Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that gird yourselves about with firebrands." Human schemes do not give true and clear light. In comparison to the light of truth, they cannot illuminate as much as a spark in the darkness of night compared to the splendor of the noon day sun.

"When we walk with the Lord In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way!

While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

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