"But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a REFINER'S FIRE and like fuller's soap. He will sit as smelter and purifier of silver, and He will PURIFY the sons of Levi and REFINE them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness." (Malachi 3:2, 3 NAU)
God is SPIRIT. God is LOVE. God is LIGHT, and in Him there is no darkness. Also, "our GOD is a CONSUMING FIRE." (Hebrews 12:29, Deuteronomy 4:24) CONSUMING is from the Greek, "katanalisko," #2654, means; "to consume utterly, or wholly, and from the Hebrew, "akal" #398 means; "to eat." This is not part of the understanding of God that we want. We love, 1 John 4:8 "-- for God is love." F.M. Lehman's song, "The Love of God," portrays our inability to describe His love. Can we accept that our God of LOVE is also one of FIRE, and that he will CONSUME the impurities in our lives until only the PURE GOLD of CHRIST is visible, and remains as we are changed into his image and likeness.
Fire is used in the process of purification of metals. God uses fire in our circumstances to purify us. It is time we stop blaming the Devil for everything, and to start recognizing God who is over all. 1 Peter 4:122 reads, "Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you."Job 23:10 says, "But He knows the way that l take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. Testing is the trying or proving, to bring to purity. In 1 Peter 1:7 we read: "that the genuineness of your faith; being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire."
When John the Baptist spoke of the One coming after him, he said, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and FIRE. - - - gather the wheat into his barn; but he will BURN up the chaff with unquenchable FIRE." (Luke 3:16, 17)
God appeared in the BURNING BUSH (Exodus 3:2) and revealed Himself as fire. He was there as a "BURNING TORCH" when making covenant with Abram. (Genesis 15:17) He was seen as the "PILLAR of FIRE" for the Children of Israel in the wilderness. (Exodus 13:21) He was there as FIRE on Mount Sinai. And in Leviticus 9:24, "then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering. " In Revelation 4:5, "seven lamps of FIRE BURNING - - which are the SEVEN SPIRITS of GOD."
When we think of fire in the Bible we tend to think of such things as Sodom and Gomorrah and other destructive situations. We also remember that the animal sacrifices that were offered had to be consumed by fire. Those with a vengeful view of God are often to willing to have someone burn in what they call hell. These limited and negative views have restricted our understanding of God and His purposes.
Fire is destructive when out of control and great efforts are made to stop the fire when a building is burning, especially if there is someone in it.. The biggest fire we relate to is the sun which gives us both light and heat, and for some folks - sunburns. Fire is used for heating, cooking, lighting and other purposes. If you use electricity it has to be generated, and if its not generated by water (hydro - Greek for water), then nuclear fuel, or some other source is used to produce fire to make steam. Fire is a blessing when it is controlled for useful purposes!
In the Middle East, FIRE is a SYMBOL of DEITY, thus Elijah's battle with the prophets of Baal was to PROVE by FIRE who was the TRUE DEITY, or TRUE GOD. Some years ago I learned that these prophets of Baal could also make fire. It wouldn’t have been a valid contest if they couldn’t. Why else would these prophets of Baal dance all day and even cut themselves in an attempt to gain enough power to make fire? While we look at the fact that the God of Elijah sen the fire, we must also remember that he stopped the prophets of Baal from making strange fire.
"OUR GOD is a CONSUMING FIRE!" He deals with us in so many ways that our heads spin. When things go wrong, we blame the devil, our spouse, our boss, the government, terrorists, false brethren, sickness, lack of money, and any thing else. HIS PURPOSE is to REDUCE our "SELF LOVE" until only ASHES REMAIN.
When fire BURNS, the heat causes a CHANGE in FORM. Only the basic elements remain in ash form. The smoke from the fire contains particles of the wood, etc that ascend upward as smoke. When gold is heated by fire, the impurities surface. Iron that is heated becomes pliable and subject to molding. When God applies the heat in our lives, we may tend to squeal and whine, Woe is me! We fail to realize that this is happening for our good and his glory in our lives.
The Jamieson, Faussett & Brown Commentary, says that during the process of purification of metals, "The purifier sits before the crucible, fixing his eye on the metal, and taking care that the fire be not too hot, and keeping the metal in, only until he knows the dross to be completely removed, by his seeing his own image reflected in the glowing mass." The Holy Spirit know how much heat is required to purify each of us until the pure river of water of life is flowing out of us from deep within.
This purifying and refining work of the FIRE of GOD will continue as Christ is being formed in us. In every trial, test, and even every sickness [please don't shoot me for saying that], God is working to produce CHRIST IN US. Our humanity says, STOP! to the FIRE.
When will we stop the blaming, and begin to acknowledge God who is overall. 1 Peter 4:12 reads, "Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." Job 23:10 says, "But He knows the way I take; When HE HAS TRIED ME, I shall come forth as gold." Testing is the trying or proving, to bring to purity. In 1 Peter 1:7 we read: "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is TESTED by FIRE."
Remember Joseph who was sold as a slave. "They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons (literally: his soul came into iron); Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested (refined) him." (Psalm 105:18, 19) The young visionary Joseph was not ready to rule in Egypt as God's man until after he was "tested"by God. Then he was a changed man. Later, after meeting his brothers, he did not blame them, but acknowledged that God was in all of it.
In Revelation 19:20, 21:8 & 20:14 -15 we read of "the LAKE of FIRE which burns with BRIMSTONE." The word BRIMSTONE comes from the Greek word "theion" #2303 and means, "FIRE FROM HEAVEN/GOD."Strong" Concordance refers to #2304 "theios" which is from "theos" #2316 "theos" meaning GOD. E.W. Bullinger defined brimstone as, "fire from heaven, (places touched by lightening were called "theia," as lightening leaves a sulphurous smell, and sulphur was used in heathen purification, it got the name of "theion." Brimstone (from brienne or brin, i.e. burn and stone, from heathen uses in their religions, God made it an instrument of His vengeance on the heathen." There are a number of O.T. and N.T. references to brimstone - - -."
Sinners, DEATH and HELL, were cast into the "lake of fire." Hell is from Greek "hades", or Hebrew "sheol." Both mean the grave, or place of the dead. The Bible calls it THE SECOND DEATH." This is the END of DEATH and of HELL. 1 Corinthians 15:26 reads, "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." The LAST means, the FINAL enemy of man. "DESTROYED," from the Greek, "katargeo" #2673, means; abolished, made of no effect, vanished, made void, to render entirely idle or inoperative. Remember, FIRE CHANGES THINGS and, "OUR GOD is a CONSUMING FIRE."
How many remember, and have sung the old song, “God of Elijah send the fire, send the fire, to burn our every trace of sin, a revolution now begin.” Was it just words, or did we mean it and really have some fire happen in our lives? Shall we let the purifying fire of our Lord do it's work in us, until all that remains is the GOLD OF CHRIST.