If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you (Amplified Bible, classic edition).
As a hippy-chick, ’70’s teenager, I had an incense burner from my neighborhood head shop. It was the same place I bought my love beads and rolling papers. Chances are that you and Bill Clinton both inhaled. That incense burner enabled me to visualize and understand the impact fragrance has on the senses and the atmosphere. My pot-smoking days are a distant memory since I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. Today, I create an atmosphere in my home using essential oils.
Proverbs 25:21-22 is a powerful spiritual truth, so let’s unpack what it means to “heap coals of fire upon the head of another.”
This is not to be understood as a revengeful act intended to embarrass its victim, but just the opposite.
The picture is that of the high priest (Lev. 16:12) who, on the Day of Atonement, took his censer and filled it with “coals of fire” from the altar of burnt offering, and then placed incense atop the coals to create a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance. The smoke of the incense covered the mercy-seat and was acceptable to God for atonement. Samuel Wesley wrote: “So artists melt the sullen ore of lead, by heaping coals of fire upon its head: In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, and pure from dross the silver runs below.”
Application: We heap coals of fire upon someone by acting as a high priest and praying for them. Where did the high priest minister? Before the altar of the Lord. We see it posted on Facebook to “pray for that person” but we don’t have a complete picture. As High Priest, we literally bring that person before the throne of Almighty God, standing before the altar with them in our hands and we ask for mercy for their error. We ask for grace for their sins. Our prayers are the incense; the tiny cone-shaped herbs we set on fire that burn before the Lord God.
We once lived in a gated community. When the gate would lift, a computerized voice would announce “access granted.” You are a priest unto the Lord, one privileged to access His presence with clean hands and a pure heart as an intercessor. Zechariah 3:7 and Hebrews 10:22 remind us that we have unfettered access to God’s presence.
You have a gold bar across your forehead reading “holy unto the Lord’ because you have been cleaned up and set apart for service (John 17:17).
Jehoshaphat dismantled the high places (2 Chronicles 17:6) which is what we do as we heap coals of fire upon another’s thinking. We can dismantle (take apart, disassemble) drug addiction, wrong or unclear thinking by pulling some things down in the spirit and removing pagan ideas. Heaping coals means burning up their wrong, pagan thinking in the fire of God. They are not judged, rather, they receive enlightenment into their incorrect belief system or inappropriate behavior. Their eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit to see themselves from God’s perspective.
You are a firebrand in the hands of the Living God. Our distinct honor is to bring others before God’s altar and He will set them on fire with Himself, for our God is a consuming fire. His fire cleanses, purifies and is a fiery, passionate love.
“The Kingdom of God does not come when the seats are full; it comes when the bowls are full!” – Jeremiah Johnson 10/14/2018
A generation of young, truth-seekers desperately need our prayers, not our opinions or judgments. Go heap some coals today!
Want more readings of this nature? Find them in my devotional activity journal Lion in My Garden.
Christian author and inspirational speaker of truth that makes the darkness tremble. Author of two non-fiction books.