In the Old Testament, the experience of God’s presence was largely geographic. He appeared in the Holy Land, the Holy City, and the Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple. On more than one occasion, God’s presence was indicated by fire. For example, God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. “[Moses] looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed…When the Lord saw that Moses turned to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ and he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then God said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ ” (Ex 3:2,4,5).
After Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, God again appeared in the form of a fire. “And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Ex 13:21-22).
God appeared again to the Israelites in a fire upon Mt Sinai at the giving of the ten commandments. Moses recounted the experience in Deuteronomy 4:11-13, “And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud, and thick gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form – only a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the ten commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.” Later, in the chapter, Moses highlighted the uniqueness of that experience with a rhetorical question, “Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?” (Dt 4:33).
In the New Testament, under the new arrangement of the new covenant, God again appears by fire but in a very different way. “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-4).
God again makes an appearance by fire. But instead of being confined to a burning bush, a pillar by night, or a mountain enveloped by smoke, God’s fire is now distributed upon us, His disciples. Can you believe it? God Himself – the speaking fire, the guiding fire, the powerful fire – is resting upon you. Not only on you, but in you through the filling of God, the Holy Spirit.
You carry the flame of God’s supernatural life within you. Our prayer is that in some small way we can fan the flame that already exists in the new you. Won’t you join us in being spiritual pyromaniacs, if you will, for each other. I think that is the spirit of Hebrews 10:25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Get out that big piece of cardboard and let’s fan the flames together.