A friend drew my attention to this passage from the prophet Joel (i, 19 - ii, 10), which is rather appropriate when thinking on the recent bushfires, coming in the heat and drought, with terrifying flames and billowing blackness of ash and smoke - pray for the dead, and the survivors; pray and give thanks for the firefighters, and the relief workers:
I hesitate – though it completes the passage – to add Joel ii, 11:To thee, O Lord, will I cry: because fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness, and the flame hath burnt all the trees of the country.Yea and the beasts of the field have looked up to thee, as a garden bed that thirsteth after rain, for the springs of waters are dried up, and fire hath devoured the beautiful places of the wilderness.
Blow ye the trumpet in Sion, sound an alarm in my holy mountain, let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: because the day of the Lord cometh, because it is nigh at hand,
A day of darkness, and of gloominess, a day of clouds and whirlwinds: a numerous and strong people as the morning spread upon the mountains: the like to it hath not been from the beginning, nor shall be after it even to the years of generation and generation.Before the face thereof a devouring fire, and behind it a burning flame: the land is like a garden of pleasure before it, and behind it a desolate wilderness, neither is there any one that can escape it.The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and they shall run like horsemen.They shall leap like the noise of chariots upon the tops of mountains, like the noise of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, as a strong people prepared to battle.
At their presence the people shall be in grievous pains: all faces shall be made like a kettle.
They shall run like valiant men: like men of war they shall scale the wall: the men shall march every one on his way, and they shall not turn aside from their ranks.No one shall press upon his brother: they shall walk every one in his path: yea, and they shall fall through the windows, and shall take no harm.They shall enter into the city: they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up the houses, they shall come in at the windows as a thief.At their presence the earth hath trembled, the heavens are moved: the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars have withdrawn their shining.
And the Lord hath uttered his voice before the face of his army: for his armies are exceeding great, for they are strong and execute his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible: and who can stand it?