Destined to be Burned Over? Bible Journey Day 10
Bible Journey – Day 10
Destined to be Burned Over?
Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over.
(Heb 6:7-8 NRSV.)
We had a sad situation at Jerusalem Ridge Farms a couple of times this summer. Nobody likes to watch their work or materials go up in smoke, but the weather was maddeningly unpredictable this summer. Twice, my father-in-law watched the weather patterns, mowed his hay, only to watch it get rained on before we would rake and bale it. He still raked it, turning it over in hopes that it would dry and we’d be able to bale a little of it, but no use. We had to burn it in the field.
The Hebrew writer uses this image to help his audience picture the seriousness of the with-God life. One of the great desires of the human heart is for our lives to count, to matter. We don’t want to live our days under the sun, only to come to the end and find ourselves left lying in the field, passed over by the harvester, destined to be burnt up and destroyed. “Thorns and thistles” echo the curse in Genesis 3, and for the Apostle Paul as well as the Hebrew writer, the message of the Fall carries both judgment and hope. In 1 Cor 3, Paul also uses this field-burning image to illustrate the fate of an unfruitful life, but just like in this passage, Paul’s message is both warning and hope: If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are. (1Co 3:14-17 NET.)
Paul lists three potential fates here: reward (for the fruitful servant), survival (for the futile worker), and destruction (for the rebel, the scoffer, the haughty destroyer of God’s people). Let’s strive to be people who partner with God to bear fruit that will last for eternity – the fruit of the Spirit!
In HIS love,