Memories Round a Camp Fire

A Wood-burning fire

Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay

  • Does this wood-burning fire bring back happy memories for you?

Most of us have probably at some time in our lives sat beside a campfire. Perhaps in our youth group days. Or maybe as a scout or a guide. Possibly at a family gathering at a picnic spot.

I certainly recall several youth camps and congregational retreats where at least one evening each time was spent out in the open around a campfire.

Our text for this week is about wood-burning fires.

Habakkuk 2:13 NIrV

I am the LORD who rules over all. Human effort is no better than wood that feeds a fire. So the nations wear themselves out for nothing.’

Devastating fire

Controlled campfires are great, but fire out of control is scary.

Several years back devastating fires raged out of control along what is known as South Africa’s Garden Route. Firefighters battled for days to bring a large number of fires under control. No sooner had they managed to bring one fire under control than another broke out elsewhere.

Our son and his family were living at the time in the small town of Sedgefield. As the fires threatened the town, the citizens were warned to be ready to evacuate. When fires broke out on both sides of the town evacuation was almost impossible. Christian groups throughout the country were praying for the fires to be brought under control. Praise the Lord the fires surrounding Sedgefield were doused.

Devastated by fire

Another town in the area was not so fortunate. The fire swept into the suburbs of Knysna where many homes were devastated. The Knysna Provincial Hospital was also threatened and patients had to be evacuated.  Today, years later, as one drives through the town evidence of the carnage can be seen in the form of burnt-out ruins of what had once been elegant family homes.

Bringing fire under control is one of the most frightening experiences of life.

Fuel for the fire

Our text verse focuses on the Lord who remains in control despite the futility of human effort which is no better than wood that feeds a fire.

God’s assessment was that the Babylonian’s hard work was all in vain, would amount to “nothing.” Instead, it would turn out to be fuel for the fire of God’s judgment that would burn them up.

Jeremiah reinforces these words specifically naming Babylon.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire.The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.” (Jeremiah 51:58 ESV)

Babylon’s splendour and its impressive appearance were created by the hard labour of people, in most cases slaves. It was not a labour of love but enforced labour. Yet their labour was in vain because all would be destroyed, never to be rebuilt.

Building failures

In the last session, we noted that within recent months, buildings and causeways have collapsed because inferior materials were used.

  • What specific buildings or constructions do you know of, where builders used second rate building materials and as a result, their construction did not stand up to certain events?
  • Can you think of any project which you were once engaged in that, despite its wonderful potential, proved to be worthless?
  • What building materials are you using to grow your faith? Will they stand up to whatever life throws at them?                                                                                                                             

Fireproof building materials

Paul teaches us about God-glorifying building materials.

“But each of you must be careful how you build. For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid.

Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw. And the quality of each person’s work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone’s work; the fire will test it and show its real quality.

If what was built on the foundation survives the fire, the builder will receive a reward. But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire.” (I Corinthians 3:10b-15 GNB)

Burned in fire

During His ministry, Jesus spoke of Himself as the vine and His disciples the branches. He warned,

“If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.

Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you.”(John 15:6,7a CEV)


Unless we stay close to Jesus we will be like the Babylonians, no better than wood that feeds a fire.” Worth nothing!

Even as Christians it is possible to focus our lives on those things that are combustible (of no lasting value). We will still be saved if we have put our lives in Jesus(See 1 Corinthians 3:15)  But how much better it is to be guided by the Holy Spirit into those activities that are not ‘burnt up’ but carry an eternal value.


Ask the Lord to pinpoint any activity that you are involved in, which is diminishing rather than building up your faith. Verbalise one step you can take to improve or step away from this activity.


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.

Building for the future

Have you been in the building industry? Or have you become involved in helping the kids with a Lego construction kit at some timer?

Image by M W from Pixabay [spacer height="20px"]

A very popular gift for kids of all ages is a Lego construction kit. They vary from those for little children with large building blocks to the more intricate kits with smaller blocks and lego characters for much older kids.

I was recently given a miniature space rocket launch pad kit with intricate lego blocks. It proved very difficult for even me, as an adult, to construct.

In our verse for this session, Habakkuk speaks about building one’s house.

Habakkuk 2:9 NIV

“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin!”

Building for the Future

Our verse focuses on the preoccupation of building a security nest for the future. 

The New Living Translation puts our verse this way:

“What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger.”

Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. (Hebrews 3:4 MSG) Share on X

Building the Family Nest

“Putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger” brings to mind a picture of an eagle building its nest high and secure on a rocky cliff face. It chooses a high place where its young are safe from trouble and harm.

Image by Mier Chen from Pixabay

Our text verse introduces us to the second focus of God’s condemnation of the Babylonians.

A few weeks ago, we saw the first condemnation to be that of extortion – taking what isn’t ours (Verse 6). Today we see how God denounces their covetousness.

God’s condemnation of Judah’s enemies is related to the way they gained their wealth.

“How terrible it will be for the Babylonians! They build their kingdom with money they gained by cheating others.

They have tried to make the kingdom as secure as possible. After all, they did not want to be destroyed.” (Verse 9 NIrV) 

Covetousness is Not All bad

Covetousness is generally regarded as a bad habit. However, see the Apostle Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 12:31.

“covet earnestly the best gifts.” (1Corinthians:12:31 KJV)

Paul gives us this exhortation after teaching on the nine manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit gives one person a message full of wisdom, while to another person the same Spirit gives a message full of knowledge. One and the same Spirit gives faith to one person, while to another person he gives the power to heal.

The Spirit gives one person the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God’s message; and to yet another, the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not. To one person he gives the ability to speak in strange tongues, and to another he gives the ability to explain what is said.

But it is one and the same Spirit who does all this; as he wishes, he gives a different gift to each person. (1 Corintians 12: 8-11 GNB)

Safe and Secure

In an effort to protect themselves from any retaliation from their enemies, the Babylonians tried to make their cities impregnable and inaccessible to the enemy (Isa. 14:13-14). They sought protection, not in their Creator, but in the creature. Not in moral means, but in material resources.

  • Think for a moment. Are you overprotective of what belongs to you?
  • Can you think of one thing someone else possesses that you wish you had?

Fruits of Covetousness.

Covetousness of material things introduces anxiety and a sense of unease into a family. If you pander to your greed, you will bring trouble to your family. It can also bring God’s plague upon all the family affairs.

  • What do you think this really means?
  • According to our verse, what is God’s judgment upon those who treat others unfairly to bolster their own security?

Our verse uses the word ‘woe’ Other versions state ‘doomed’. In other words, God states they are doomed to lose the very security they hoped to gain.

Like the Babylonians, nations have always acted, and indeed are still acting, foolishly. They trust their weaponry, armies, and their navies, instead of the righteousness and truth of God.

Our True Focus

  • What is the Lord’s judgement on those who benefit from fraud and injustice?

Gains achieved through fraud and injustice, bring nothing but poverty and ruin upon a family.

But there is also lawful gain. This brings the blessing of God and a sense of security to the family.

Over the years, the Lord has often used the following verse in my life. 

“…first be concerned about God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all of these things will be provided for you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 ISV)

Foolish Building

Jesus used the following illustration to illustrate the need to count the cost before engaging in a major project.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it?  

Otherwise, you will start building the tower, but not be able to finish. Then everyone who sees what is happening will laugh at you. They will say, “You started building, but could not finish the job.”(Luke 14:28-30  CEV)

There have been a number of occasions that I have seen examples of this very thing that Jesus spoke about. I have seen buildings started but never completed. Sadly, in our country, and I imagine in plenty others, numerous projects remain incomplete because the allocated funds have been misappropriated.

May the following words of a great leader be an inspiration to you.

“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” Nelson Mandela 

Building Materials

No matter who we may be, we are nonetheless building for the future. The question is what is our foundation and what building materials are we using?
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul points out that we are God’s building (verse 9). That Christ is our foundation (verse 11). And upon that foundation, we are either building with solid enduring materials (gold silver and precious stones) or with materials that have no intrinsic value whatsoever (wood, hay and straw)(verse 12).
As Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message,
“Take particular care in picking out your building materials.” (Verse 12)
The foundation to your faith is secure (Jesus Christ). But are you building upon that foundation a life that honours the Lord? Decide what material you can use today to build a life that brings glory to God, then go and put it into practice.

If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.