Today is Pentecost and while sitting here at home this afternoon getting some rest, I started thinking about my desire to start a personal blog for myself with all my many hobbies. I have many blog ideas, but they are just that - great ideas. So, today I decided to start fresh and the first thought that came into my mind as I sat down to write, was that of a flame.
My father always said that a flame is so mesmerizing. Looking into the fire, as the flames dance back and forth; brings a sense of calm and peace.
My dad enjoys making fires, especially after a long day. He'll light the fire, pour a glass of wine, and sit back and rest after a day's hard work. Even if he wasn't planning on braaiing (what we South Africans call a barbeque or grill), he would still light the fire to add to the atmosphere and to unwind.
Have you stared at a fire's flames before? The flames might seem to be menacing, flicking hotly as the energy escapes the burning wood or fuel, but at the same time, those menacing flames are gently dancing back and forth in a mesmerizing pattern. I once tried capturing the hot red flames of a wood fire with my GoPro in slow motion, but even shooting at 240fps, the slow-motion doesn't do it justice but it does make for a cool effect. (Check out this YouTube Short https://www.youtube.com/shorts/2RdX7IEd71Q)
Maybe the calming effect of the fire has something to do with the themes of fire that we read in the Bible. Referring to the Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words:
In the Old Testament, “fire,” which is ʾesh in Hebrew, is often associated with the presence of God. As the Israelites gazed at the top of Mount Sinai, the Lord appeared as a devouring fire (Exod. 24:17)—a phenomenon remembered by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 12:29). The word ʾesh signifies the visible aspect of the “fire,” that is, the “flame.” (1)
In the Old Testament, there are three main themes or areas where fire plays a major role. Firstly, fire was often used as a form of Judgement (Lev. 10:2; 21:9 / Ps 21:9; 50:2-4) where a transgressor was consumed by fire. God will consume His enemies when He comes in judgment and this consuming fire can either destroy or refine and purify. Secondly, fire was the way that Israel brought their sacrifices to God (Dt. 18:1 / 1 Sam 2:28). Animal and non-animal sacrifices were brought before the Lord and burned on the altar (Lev. 1:9; 2:10). The burning resulted in the sacrifice being consumed and "ascending" to the Lord. Lastly, fire was often accompanied by the appearance of God such as seen in the burning bush (Ex. 3:2), mount Sinai (Ex. 24:17), etc.
In the New Testament, we also read of fire as being associated with the presence of God, however not physically but spiritually; through the Holy Spirit. This is referred to as the "baptism of fire" that God uses to refine and convert His people (Matt. 3:11 / Acts 2:3). Jesus Christ was the perfect offering or sacrifice for our sins, and being the perfect sacrifice He needed no refinement. However, we need continual refinement as we are purified and refined through the Holy Spirit. Yes, God is still an all-consuming fire (Heb. 12:29) but we need not fear God if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ. But those who reject Christ will face eternal fire (Jude 7).
While all of these uses of fire in the Bible are instructive, it is the presence of God in our lives now, as a fire that refines and invigorates, that we should be aware of. This internal fire melts and molds us to be more like Jesus. (1)
Next time when you light a fire, sit back, relax and watch those flames while you experience the calm and peace that follows.
(1) Carpenter, E.E. and Comfort, P.W. (2000) Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.