Verse 3. A fire goeth before him. Like an advance guard clearing the way. So was it at Sinai, so must it be: the very Being of God is power, consuming all opposition; omnipotence is a devouring flame which burneth up his enemies round about. God is longsuffering, but when he comes forth to judgment he will make short work with the unrighteous, they will be as chaff before the flame. Reading this verse in reference to the coming of Jesus, and the descent of the Spirit, we are reminded of the tongues of fire, and of the power which attended the gospel, so that all opposition was speedily overcome. Even now where the gospel is preached in faith, and in the power of the Spirit, it burns its own way, irresistibly destroying falsehood, superstition, unbelief, sin, indifference, and hardness of heart. In it the Lord reigneth, and because of it let the earth rejoice.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. A fire goeth before him. Like a marshall or advance guard before a royal presence, or as the javelin men who precede a judge. Fire is the sign both of grace and wrath ( Exodus 3:2 Psalms 18:9 .) Majesty marches forth in both displays of Deity. --C.H.S. from Poli Synopsis.
Verse 3. A fire goeth before him. That fire which Christ came to send upon the earth, the kindling blaze of the Holy Ghost, which came down in tongues of fire at Pentecost, to burn freely throughout the world, for the destruction of obstinate unbelievers, and the purifying of those who gladly received the Word. And of this the prophet spake, saying, "I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly its the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD." ( Ezekiel 39:6 .) This divine flame goes still before the face of the Lord in his coming to every faithful soul, as it kindles with longing for him, and burns up all its sins therewith, as he heaps his coals of fire upon its head, to soften and purify it. "It must needs be", teaches a great saint, (S. Bernard.) "that the fervour of holy desire must go before his face to every soul to which he means to come, a flame which will burn up all the mildew of sin, and make ready a place for the Lord. And then the soul knows that the Lord is at hand, when it feels itself kindled with that fire, and it saith with the prophet, `My heart was hot within me; then spake I with my tongue.'" ( Psalms 39:3 ). -- Augustine, and others, quoted by Neale and Littledale.
Verse 3. A fire goeth before him. There is no less, but rather more wrath attending the despisers of the Gospel, than did attend the giving out of the law. Hebrews 12:29 . -- David Dickson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3-6. The accompaniments of Christ's gospel advent.
- The fire of his Spirit.
- The light of the word.
- The commotion in the world.
- The removal of obstacles.
- The display of the divine glory.