In the days when America’s west was being settled, praire fires were the scourge of the land. The very thought of them struck terror into the hearts of the people. With dry grass standing high, sometimes as high as a horse’s head, the fires could sweep over vast acreages and not lack for fuel. To get caught out in the midst of such a fire meant certain death.
Over the course of time, though, people figured out how to remain safe during such a time. The trick was to take a match and start another fire in a circular pattern in the grass. Once the grass inside that circle was consumed, a stand could be taken inside the burned spot. The praire fire would burn all around the spot but not come inside it. It couldn’t come inside because the grass there to fuel it was already burned.
When God looks down upon the earth, He still sees a certain spot just outside the old city of Jerusalem. It is a burned spot that the fires of His holy wrath consumed some two thousand years ago. The spot goes by different names: Calvary (Luke 23:33), Golgatha (John 19:17), and the Place of a Skull (Matthew 27:33). Scholars debate the precise location of it, but God knows exactly where it is. It was at that spot that Jesus died on a Roman cross for the sins of the world. The burning of the spot reached its climax when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The fact is, the fire of God’s wrath must sweep through the life of each sinner. His indescribable holiness demands it. Those who have believed in Jesus as Savior are granted the privilege of standing inside the burned spot of the cross. Jesus has already taken God’s wrath for us. We can watch in safety as the fire rages all around us but never touches us. On the other hand, those who have not believed in Jesus as Savior must face the fire of God’s wrath out in the open, on their own. As John 3:16-18 and 36 put it:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”