The nations of the world with their commercial and industrial interests become increasingly dependent on the forces created by fire. Wars are won or lost on the basis of the nations “fire power.” Civilization depends on the effective use and control of fire as a means of survival.
Now, it is important to recognize that the Holy Spirit teaches us, and He has chosen fire as His own appropriate symbol. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to energize and fill our lives with His divine presence and to empower us for overcoming evil and proclaiming Christ kingship.
How does the fire of the Holy Spirit affect the life of the believer today?
- Fire cleanses. It differs from water in that water cleanses outwardly, but fire purifies within by penetrating every fiber of matter with its own element.
- Fire energizes. Just as the fire in the boiler generates steam and turns wheels of a great locomotive, so the Holy Spirit provides the strength and energy for the life of the believers.
- Fire spreads. How quickly fire can reach out beyond one’s territory and on to his neighbor! Particularly after a dry spell and with the stirring wind, fire will leap fences, ditches, valleys, and almost all obstacles that stand in the way of its advance. In this way, the fire of the Holy Spirit is contagious when lives are transformed by its wonderful power.
- Fire softens. Iron that has been in the fire will run like melted wax; great steel beams bend and crumble; ice becomes like a running stream. And in the spiritual realm, there is not heart so hard that it will not turn soft and melt at the touch of the fire of the Holy Spirit.
- Fire warms. A cold church can do nothing but freeze out those who come for help. The Church is here to warm those from a cold, and often cruel world.
Looking back into the Old Testament, one recognizes the importance God attached to the symbol of fire and its associated message.
Exodus 13:21-22, And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. Exodus 14:19-20, And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
The remarkable reality of the pillar of fire taught the Israelites many things:
- It was a sign of God’s leadership. Moses had earlier asked God how he might know that the people were assured of divine direction. In fact, in Exodus 33:13-16, he told God, Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
All efforts of natural man could never have combined to give such assurance, such mastery over events, such provision for soul and body, as was given that day by the Almighty. All Moses had to do was keep in step with God. He learned what it was to have God as his partner. Surely the New Testament church today, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can so be led!
- It was proof that God is light. God was the source of this light and He not only wrote it in the sky, but He wrote it in their hearts. Without Him there is no true light in the world. Jesus, the very son and person of God, said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, sheds His light in our hearts and leads us into all truth. This is not so for the unbeliever. The Egyptians did not see the fire or the cloud; they did not come under the same covenant which God initiated toward Israel. And it is true today. 1 Corinthians 2:14, But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:10, But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
- It was evidence of God’s omniscience. The pillar of fire was first before them, leading them on in the way they should go. Next, it was over them, spread out like a great canvas or protective covering providing the day-by-day care of the Almighty. The pillar was also behind them, serving to surround them and guard them from any foe that might slip up on them from behind. This rear-guard force also served to separate them from the former life and to prevent them from becoming inadvertently entangled in the path and ways of the ungodly. When they were in the midst of God’s presence, they had nothing to fear. What a glorious truth that this is not only a type or symbol of the past, but it is a reality to all believers through the work of the Holy Spirit!
- It was a forerunner of indwelling glory. When the tabernacle was complete, that fire took its place in the Holy of Holies as the glowing Shekinah, dwelling in the midst of God’s people. What a visual lesson God gave to His people! This is the promise having its fulfillment in the Church. 1 Corinthians 3:16, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Ezekiel 36:27, I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in
John 14:17, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
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