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Isaiah 33

14 Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. “Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with [k]continual burning?” 15 He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, He who rejects [l]unjust gain And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil;

In the above text the immediate context seems to refer to the righteous as the ones who will live with the consuming fire and continual burning.

Is this the correct reading of the above text?

  • The first sentence of verse 16 is reassuring. – Constantthin Apr 5 '19 at 9:35
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In a sense the answer is "yes". This is because YHWH, the LORD, is frequently called a consuming fire:

  • Ex 24:17 - To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
  • Deut 4:24 - For the LORD your God is a consuming fire
  • Deut 9:3 - Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God.

The important part about this consuming fire was that it consumed the wicked and protected the righteous - see Num 26:10, Ps 50:3, Isa 29:6, 30:30, Lam 2:3, Eze 22:31, Heb 12:29. This same theme is implied at Pentecost (Acts 2) where the disciples received tongues of fire that enabled them to speak in other languages.

The same idea is taken up in Rev 6:15-17 where the wicked see God and the Lamb sitting on the throne and ask the important question: "Who can stand?" while the wicked ask for the rocks to fall on them and kill them. (see also 2 Thess 2:8) By contrast the righteous (Isa 25:9) on that day look up and say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

Thus, the question in Isa 33:14, 15 is really, who can stand in the presence of God? Only the righteous can be in the presence of God - Rev 22:1-5 reveals that the primary reward of the righteous is to see the face of God.

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