The Lord has never been one to shy away from making a bold statement nor has He denied using the great power of fire at many times. In the Bible, “fire” is written quite often – 502 times in the Old Testament and 75 times in the New Testament. This is not just the traditional “rub two sticks together” type of fire: rather, God would use His power to get the full and complete attention of His people.
Here are just a few of the times when God used fire to rain down “shock and awe” upon his people.
1. Sodom and Gomorrah
Sulfur and fire! Not a good day to live in these depraved cities. Abraham fought to save his brother Lot from the rain of fire to come, and the Angel of the Lord had to almost drag them out of this city before the fire rained down. Could you imagine a literal rain storm but not of water but of fire? Fair warning: Don’t look at this “shock and awe” lest you be turned into a pillar of salt! (Genesis 19)
2. The Bush
Moses received the scare of a lifetime when he noticed a bush on fire but not consumed. He was in such awe, he had to be told he was standing on holy ground and he should remove his shoes! (Exodus 3)
3. Pillar of Fire
How could the Isralites doubt that it was God that led them out of slavery when he led them during the day with a pillar of clouds and at night with a pillar of fire! I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just a little pillar of fire either, but a tall flame into the night sky so that all 40,000 Israilites could follow and not become lost. What dummies to worship a golden calf instead of the True Lord. (Exodus 13)
4. Rock of Fire
When the Lord commissioned Gideon to rescue the Isralites from the Midianites, Gideon asked for a sign that God would make his weak tribe successful in the fight. The Angel of the Lord came to dinner and told him to put the meat and unleavened bread on a rock, and when the Angel touched the rock, it sprang forth fire to cook the meat and bread. The first outdoor barbecue! (Judges 6). King David also called upon the Angel of the Lord to send fire from Heaven to consume the burnt offering (1 Chronicles 21).
5. Bonfire from God
Elijah was having problems with getting his people to stop worshiping the false god Baal, so he challenged the priests to do everything in their power to get Baal to light a wood on fire so they could make a burnt offering. So they did everything in their power, and nothing happened (surprise, surprise). Elijah just set up the altar, said in prayer to the Lord, “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” and BOOM, FIRE! It consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18) Talk about shock and awe!
6. Playing with Fire, Again
Elijah liked playing with fire, that’s for sure! The king of Samaria sent a captain and 50 men to bring Elijah down from the mountain, and instead Elijah said if he was a man of God, “let fire come down from heaven and consume you and the fifty.” And God made it so. Again, the king send another captain with 50 men, and again the 51 were consumed! (2 Kings 1) I guess they never will learn not to mess with God and his fire.
7. Restored by Fire
Peter denied Christ three times by the light of a charcoal fire (John 18). The denial was harsh enough, but Luke describes the scene further by writing Jesus looks at Peter as he is being denied for the third time as the cock crows (Luke 22:61). Whoa, and this is the guy Jesus stated was the ROCK whom he will build his Church on. After the resurrection, the disciples who have gone back to fishing find the Lord upon the beach next to a charcoal fire (the only two times that a charcoal fire was mentioned in the Bible). Jesus then asks Peter one poignant question three times: “Do you love me?” Jesus wasn’t just trying to make sure Peter really loved him, but he was canceling out each denial and commanding Peter to go out and take care of the new Church. (John 21)
8. Tongues of Fire
The Apostles, hidden in the upper room, encountered the Holy Spirit as a violent wind and tongues of fire which descended upon each of the heads of them. They were immediately given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but witnessing these uneducated fishermen speaking so boldly about Jesus Christ in my own language would shock the heck out of me! (Acts 2).
9. Lake of Fire
This is still to come, but you do not want to be caught in the Lake of Fire. In the book of Revelation, this is a lake of sulfur and fire where all of the unbelieving souls will be thrown into, similar to the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally, this is where Satan will be thrown, while the rest of us can enjoy eternity in Paradise with God. Alleluia! (Revelation 19-21).
These are just a few of the times where the Lord has used fire as a way to shock us. To learn more about the fire of the Lord, you can visit The Wild Goose is Loose to see how God uses the Holy Spirit to light a fire for him within us, so that we in turn can be that FIRE and spread the message of Jesus to our friends and family with the goal of bringing them closer to the Lord.