Throughout the Bible, fire is utilised for domestic cooking, heating, burning of sacrifices, destroying idols and conquering cities (Ex 12:8; Lev 1:7; Deut 7:5; Josh 6:24).

The Bible portrays fire as having two special functions – refining and punishing. Metallic ores are refined by fire to extract precious metals and this ‘purifying by heat’ analogy is carried over into the

Fire purifies or destroys

personal character realm, “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Prov 17:3; Isa 6:5-7, 48:10; Zech 13:9; 1 Pet 1:7). What is unprofitable, useless and evil is burnt up while what survives the testing is of good and lasting worth (Gen 19:28; Mt 3:10,12, 7:19; Jn 15:6; 1 Cor 3:12-15).

At the end of time the sun will scorch people and the world will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet 3:3-7,10-12; Rev 16:8,9). Jesus referred to Hell as the place where the tormenting fire doesn’t go out – the lake of fire to which the unbelievers are doomed is eternal damnation (Mt 5:22; Mk 9:43; Rev 19:20, 20:10-15, 21:8).

Fire also indicated God’s presence at the burning bush; the pillar of fire gave guidance to the Israelites, providing proof He was the true God; and the Holy Spirit came on the disciples as tongues of fire. John the Baptist spoke of this. “You will be baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Ex 3:2, 13:21; 1 Kgs 18:21-38; Mt 3:11; Act 2:3).  Several biblical illustrations also use fire e.g. “Can a man play with the fire of temptation and not be burnt”, and “The tongue is a fire setting great forests on fire” (Prov 6:27-29; Jas 3:5,6).

When people are ‘on fire for God’ this infers they are enthusiastic and devoted to Christ and His Kingdom.

Fire walking is practiced by certain Pacific Islanders where participants walk bare foot across white-hot stones.  It is highly probable evil spirits are invoked to protect the feet of these walkers.

See also: end times, eternal damnation, refine, test/testing.


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