Bounding up the stairs and exploding into our bedroom, our third son and youngest child, seventeen-year-old Hank, blurted, “Mom, it’s time you and I had a bonding time together. Dad is gone and it’s just you and me. You have to come out to the lake road and see the big fire!”
Already dressed for bed, I absolutely had no interest in going to see a fire, but Hank’s insistence made me take notice. He literally took my robe from the closet and put it on me. I thought, this will be an opportunity to look at the lake. So, I sneaked out of the house at 9:00 p.m.—in my robe.
Hank drove all the way to the lake. Saw no fire. Looked at the lake. Didn’t say much. On the way home, I said, “You know Hank, if there were a fire, don’t you think we would have seen it by now?”
“Yes Mom” he said, “But, as I was driving home, between the lake and the turn off on Horton Street, I looked out my rear view mirror, and there was this huge fire, and smoke billowing from the top.” He kept repeating how there was smoke “billowing” from the top.
When we got home, I walked Hank over to where my journal was lying open to what I had written that morning:
03/03/03, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud…” (Exodus 19:9, NIV). Our ladies group has been praying Psalm 91:1, “We dwell in the secret place of the Most High and shall remain stable and fixed under the ‘shadow’ of the Almighty (Amplified Bible says, “Whose power no foe can withstand”). In other words, the shadow of the Almighty is from the cloud that is God himself.
Together, Hank and I read further in my Bible, Exodus, chapter 19, verses 16-19:
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him (emphasis mine).
At a loss for words, I reminded Hank of Moses when he saw the burning bush and said, “If it ever happens again, stop, turn aside like Moses did and ask God what he is saying to you.” Without a word, Hank shook his head in agreement, and our bonding time was over.
At the time, I knew the date was 03-03-03, but the significance of it all had not yet settled into my thinking until I studied in more depth: ‘The Name’ Jehovah.
Fire is significant because of its association with the LORD
LORD in all caps in the English Bible means Jehovah. There are 417 occurrences where the LORD and fire are associated together in Scripture. God used fire to represent His presence in a visible way and to signify His glory and awesomeness. He was visible to the children of Israel in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as He led them in the wilderness; it never left.
“In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt, on the very day, they came to the Desert of Sinai” (Exod. 19:1). On the third day, Moses was to have the people standing at the foot of the mountain while He, Jehovah, descended upon it in fire. This was a most solemn occasion because the people had made a commitment to do all the LORD [Jehovah] would command them to do, and Jehovah was about to give them the Ten Commandments. It was out of the fire the LORD spoke to Moses. The LORD declares that His Word will be like fire (see Jer. 23:29).
Biblical fire, as its association with the LORD, is very significant in all of Scripture in about seven different ways which we will look at.
We have studied the names of God with Jehovah as part of His name, so it is time we look at this most awe-inspiring name itself, which is far beyond any we have yet explored or could ever study. We will examine why it is so holy a name and what the fire of His Name and presence in His Word can do in our lives.
WHAT IS BIBLICAL FIRE AND HOW IS IT USED IN SCRIPTURE?
Fire symbolizes God’s presence
When God made His covenant with Abram, He accepted his burnt offering by passing as a blazing torch between the pieces of offering—a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon (see Gen. 15:8 and 17). This covenant took place when the Sovereign LORD promised Abram a son as his heir in order to take possession of the land. God answered David with fire from heaven (see 1 Chron. 21:26); fire from heaven consumed the burnt offering of Solomon and glory filled the temple (see 2 Chron. 7:1). “The LORD your God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24 and Heb.12:29).
Fire symbolizes our sacrificial prayers before the throne of God
“The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma” (Gen. 8: 21) from the burnt offerings Noah offered after the flood waters receded and he and his family were on dry ground. The Israelites burned incense to the LORD. It was made from a special recipe, was holy and never to be used for personal purposes. Anyone who did was to be cut off from his people. It was reserved for the LORD alone. The book of Revelation reveals smoke of the incense with prayers from the saints coming before God (see Rev. 8:4).
Fire symbolizes the refining and purification of God’s people
We have seen how Jehovah-Jireh is our teacher through many trials and testings, and that without being forced to stretch and grow, we will not. “He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates and pays attention to it].When he has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous]” (Job 23:10 Amplified). Job tells the result of his trials, “My foot has held fast to His steps, His ways have I kept and not turned aside. I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasure up the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:11-12 Amplified). Job ate the fire of Jehovah’s Words. (See also Rev. 3:20 and 10:10).
Fire can be judgment from the LORD
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the LORD when he rained upon them with fire and brimstone from heaven. Fire consumed Ar of Moab (see Num. 21:28); fire devoured 250 men at the rebellion of Korah and his followers (see Num. 26:10). “Nadab and Abihu died when they made an offering before the LORD with unauthorized fire” (Num. 26:61). To people who choose their own way as best, “his fury will be shown to his foes, See the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD (Isa. 66:15-16).
Fire literally is hell
Fire burns to the realms of death below (see Deut. 32:22). The words hell and fire are found together eight times in the King James Bible. We are told it would be better that our offensive hand, foot, eye or tongue be cut off rather than our whole body be cast into hell fire. Satan’s final doom will be torment forever, day and night, in the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet will also be thrown (see Rev. 20:10). And, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
Fire is the symbol of the Holy Spirit
John the Baptist, who prepared the hearts of the people to repent of their sins to be ready to receive Jesus when He arrived, said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). On the day of Pentecost, after Jesus ascended into heaven, and His disciples were praying all together in one place, “Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).
Fire and blood are signs of end times
Fire and blood are some of the literal judgments during the Great Tribulation (see Rev. 8:7-8). But among the Church on earth before the Rapture, they are signs. After the Holy Spirit descended over two-thousand years ago upon the disciples of Jesus, Peter addressed the crowd who witnessed the enabling fire on the disciples. His preaching, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, brought 3,000 people to the LORD. In Acts 2:17-21, He began by quoting the prophecy from Joel 2:28-32:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved (emphasis mine).