2 Chronicles 7:1-3 – Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the Lord upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Can you imagine this scene? Fire falls from heaven and consumes the sacrifices, and the Shekinah glory of God descends on and fills the Temple that Solomon has just finished building. This was “Dedication Day.” A massive number of sacrifices were offered – 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep! The celebration lasted three weeks.
There are several times in scripture where God reveals either His power and glory by sending fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice or reveals His holiness and righteousness by sending the fire of judgment to consume the wicked. Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed by fire. Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel was burned up completely by the fire that fell from heaven, even consuming the water that was poured around the altar! God accepted David’s sacrifice on the threshing floor which would become the site of Solomon’s temple. God spoke from the burning bush to Moses, and the mountain burned with the fire of God’s presence when He spoke to the children of Israel in the wilderness. And Elijah was caught up to heaven in a chariot of fire.
It’s not random that God chooses to express and reveal Himself in fire. In the Old Testament, people experienced the consuming fire of God literally and physically. In the New Testament, fire represents the all-consuming Holy Spirit that comes to indwell those who put their faith in Jesus (Acts 2:3-4).
Hebrews 12:28-29 – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable sacrifice with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Romans 12:1 – Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
1 Corinthians 3:12-14 – Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
1 Peter 1:6-8 – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.
2 Peter 3:7 – But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 – For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
These are just a few of the scriptures that show the two purposes of the consuming fire of God. One is for glory – for revealing the image of Christ in those who are saved. This fire consumes all that is unlike Jesus, purifying our hearts and minds as we surrender our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to be used for God’s glory. This consuming process lasts our entire lifetime, and when all is said and done, we will stand before God as the righteous wave of His holy fire tests the quality of our obedience, revealing whether our works were of self, or of faith that pleases God.
The other kind of consuming fire also reveals God’s glory, but it is one we do not want to experience. It is the fire of His judgment when His righteous and holy nature is fully revealed. It ends in the lake of fire where the devil and all who follow him will live forever away from the presence of God and His people.
Go back to that scene at the Temple. The glory of God so filled the building they could not even enter. The only right response was to fall on their faces and worship as they proclaimed His goodness and His mercy. Isn’t that what we want our lives to be – a living, breathing example of the indwelling presence of God that causes others to see His goodness and His mercy?
Jesus endured the consuming wrath of God on the cross so that we could experience the consuming sanctification of the Holy Spirit. God’s glory and power are revealed when we are willing to be consumed.
Our God is a consuming fire. Whatever our trials, hardships, or persecutions; however tired we may be; when we can’t understand what He’s doing but we can feel the heat of His presence, let us surrender to His mercy and goodness … and be consumed.
Luke 12:49 – [Jesus said] I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!