Nearly everyone who has sat around a campfire has experienced the mesmerizing nature of fire. Something about it not only draws our attention but keeps our attention. Our bodies are drawn to the heat. Our eyes are drawn to the light and the colors. But it seems like there is more going on. It seems as if our very souls are drawn to it. We can’t explain it but there is a peace that comes over us as we gaze at the fire. There is a wonder to it all even though we’ve seen it a hundred times. So much more than just the chemical reaction of combustion, fire seems to have a life to it.
When God’s Presence invades our material world, He often shows up as fire. This started in the Old Testament:
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light“(Exodus 13:21). “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire” (Exodus 19:18). “On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire“(Numbers 9:15-16).
This continued in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit was sent to followers of Jesus:
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were 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…”(Acts 2:1-4).
When John encountered the risen Jesus, John described Him as surrounded by light and fire with eyes blazing with fire: “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters“(Revelation 1:12-15).
So maybe it is not that God is like fire. Maybe we have it backwards. Could it be that fire is like God? Could it be that what captivates us so much about fire is that a part of us knows it is like our Creator? The light, the colors, the heat, they are a shadow of what we’ll experience when we stand before God in the fullness of His Presence.
Sometimes when I pray for people and the Holy Spirit comes in power, I get really hot. I start sweating because the heat gets so intense. Other times, the person I am praying for gets hot. They start sweating. They testify to feeling heat either all over their body or in the one area that we are praying for. Maybe we experience the heat because the fire of the Spirit is present and our bodies are responding to it. The temperature in the room hasn’t changed. But there is a fire in the spirit realm and our bodies can sense it.
The fire of the Lord is so much more than just a metaphor. It is real. It is tangible. It can be experienced and felt. Every fire gives off light and heat. The Presence of the Lord does the same. And it is more captivating than any campfire we’ll ever experience.