Branded by Fire

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One important function of prophecy is often overlooked by Christians today. It is common to speak of prophecy as being either foretelling or forth-telling, but rarely do we consider it to be the application of what God has already revealed to how we live today and tomorrow.

A clear example of this is the way in which Old Testament prophets took their inspiration from The LORD’s foundational statements about the consequences of obedience or disobedience to His ways, then applied these principles in their contemporary messages.

In fact, the majority of all Old Testament prophetic warnings about destruction and deportation are based on just two chapters from the Books of Moses. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 map out the future history of Israel, depending on whether they followed His laws or rebelled against Him. These judgements have been fulfilled in detail throughout Israel’s history.

Once they had restated the basic principles, these subsequent prophets just had to put their finger on the particular place the nation had reached at that moment, and warn the people of the next phase of judgement if they did not repent.

Applying what The LORD has already said to today

The main purpose of this article then is to bring to your attention a prophecy recently shared with us by a friend. For us, this had precisely the effect described above. First it brought Biblical truths to our attention, then it applied them to where we find ourselves at the start of 2021, and to what our Father’s purposes are in the upheavals we are now experiencing.

The prophecy is available here, and we encourage you to consider it prayerfully. As we did this ourselves, the message of the opening words “To My people branded by fire,” was slowly but surely impressed upon us.

The phrase “branded by fire” is not found in the Scripture as such. We believe that in this context the words refer to placing a mark of ownership on livestock by singeing their coats and hide with a red-hot branding iron, a practice dating back to ancient Egypt.

The most familiar form of branding in Scripture is the mark of the Beast, referred to eight times in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. But this is not the most important mark of ownership recorded in that book.

First though, we need to consider a precedent from the Old Testament. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, The LORD gave Ezekiel a vision of His presence leaving the Temple. (Ch.9) Just before this takes place, The LORD commanded one of His servants:

“Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

This is then followed by a further instruction to a second servant:

“Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.”

This foreshadows a similar branding of the servants of God described in Rev. 7:

“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’”

A word of clarification may be necessary at this point. Those sealed are commonly taken to be just the one hundred and forty-four thousand from the tribes of Israel. This is implied by the usual rendering of the start of v9 as “After these things I looked...” The word ‘things’ however is not in the Greek, and the phrase would be better translated, “After these I saw...” It is possible therefore that the great, innumerable host of people from the nations (i.e. Gentiles) were also amongst the sealed. They are later described to John (v14) as “those coming out of the great affliction.” The tense used here in Greek is the present middle participle, implying that these martyrs were continuing to come out at the moment in history being indicated to John.

The protection of those who are marked as holy to The LORD is further emphasised in 9:4, following the release of terrifying locusts from “the bottomless pit.” These poisonous creatures were given limited authority:

“They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Consideration of these Scriptures should encourage us to turn our attention away from the mark of the Beast to the need for The LORD's people to embrace the refining work of the Holy Spirit. It is necessary that He should first purify those who belong to the household of God, so that they might then be kept safe when the unbelief of those around them is being judged in righteousness before our Saviour King returns.

Interestingly, Peter’s exhortations in his first letter also establish a link between trials, testing by fire and the proving of faith, so as to be well-prepared and secure when Christ returns.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1:6-7

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 4:12-13

“For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” 4:17-19

Job (23:10) affirmed the significance of his trials when he said “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold,” and James too emphasises the role of trials in the development of endurance, with the intent that The LORD’s people may be “perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (1:2-4)

A further insight from Scripture

A similar contrast occurs in another passage referenced in this prophetic word. The phrase “You shall have a song in the night” is found in Isaiah 30:29. However, the context is not one of celebration alone. This chapter is first and foremost a denunciation of “children who will not hear the law of The LORD.”

But a promise found in v18, “Therefore The LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you,” is followed by a detailed description of the blessing which our Creator promises for the faithful amongst His people.

These two themes of judgement and salvation are also bound together in v27-30.

“Behold, the name of The LORD comes from afar, burning with His anger, and His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a devouring fire. His breath is like an overflowing stream, which reaches up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of futility; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.

You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute, to come into the mountain of The LORD, to the Mighty One of Israel. The LORD will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones.”

At a time when it is very easy for people to “faint from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world,” (Luke 21:26) we urge you to test this prophecy carefully. If you deem it to be in accord with Scripture and of The LORD, then may it strengthen you for the times which must surely come to pass before our Redeemer returns.

Though the process of branding is painful in the short term, should we not all desire to be identified as His before His final judgements are poured out on the earth.

Randall & Mary Hardy - January 2021

© Copyright Randall Hardy – January 2021
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This page last edited – January 2021