It seems that humans are always looking for something to thrill them, entertain them or leave them awestruck. In today’s world that might look like people being enthralled with amazing athletes, magicians, stunt men, talent, daring acts and even breath-taking experiences or views.
Today’s post is inspired by several things including the fact that the United States’ tradition is to watch fireworks tonight to celebrate our Independence as a country. Many people all over the states will be watching and setting off beautiful fireworks which do amaze us and boggle our minds that all kinds of colors and shapes can be so perfectly designed and timed to go off in the night sky even at times in sync with patriotic music. It is a meaningful tradition and there is much freedom and God’s grace to be reminded of as the fireworks dazzle us. Yet how much more should we be reminded to stand in awe of our Maker and ponder His mighty works throughout the ages. He also used “Fire works” to grab man’s attention in a big way and so that we all can continually remember that He deserves to be feared and revered above all. The following are a quick run through of 10 occasions that God showed out in His glory to display for all to see and know that He is the Holy One.
1. The Smoking Firepot
“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land.” Genesis 15:17-18
God’s way of making a covenant with Abram would’ve been an amazing thing to behold. We all have to wonder what a smoking firepot is, but we know that it represented God’s presence and because of that it had to have been something awesome! God’s covenant with Abram to give him the land of Israel brings to mind His covenant with us. I’ve heard it said that the ones that passed through the middle of the pieces of the animals were promising that they would uphold their end of the covenant or they would have the same fate as the animals they were passing through. As Abram slept, God passed through symbolizing that he would carry the weight of the covenant.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
Just like God’s covenant with Abram, Christ carries the weight of our covenant with Him. By His grace we are saved through faith, and this is not our own doing! (Ephesians 2:8) The powerful fire “works” that God demonstrated in His covenant with Abram are only a shadow of the powerful Work of Christ on the cross that brought us into the new covenant of His blood.
2. Sodom and Gomorrah
“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens.” Genesis 19:24
We all know this story of God’s power and wrath as He took out two cities filled with sin. There’s no doubt that He could’ve destroyed it any way he chose, but as burning sulfur rained down from heaven, it was a testament to Lot and his daughters the seriousness and the swiftness that God wanted give judgement on this people.
As we look back on this solemn event, it’s important to recognize that God doesn’t take sin lightly and we shouldn’t either even if we are daily living in an ungodly world. It gives all the more meaning to why we need a Savior to free us from the punishment we all deserve.
3. The Burning Bush
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” Exodus 3:2
Talk about an attention getter! God used an unusual sight out in the middle of nowhere to astound Moses and bring Him to His presence in awe and wonder. He took off His sandals because God showed up to give Him his calling and remind Him that He was the source of power that would be displayed through Moses’ life.
Let us not forget that God is the powerful one and miracle worker and we are but His instruments. He made our mouths to speak, and we shouldn’t doubt that His power can be displayed even through us.
4. The Pillar of Fire
“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, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” Exodus 13:21-22
God’s presence traveled with the Israelites as they went up out of Egypt and as they trekked through the wilderness. Represented by a cloud and by fire, God never left his people. He led them through the wilderness, lit their way at night, and protected them from the Egyptians and from the desert sun (Psalm 105:39). Jesus promises us that He will be with us always, and just as is prophesied about Him, He is Immanuel, God with us. Like the pillar of fire and cloud, He leads us, lights our way and protects us from harm.
5. Mount Sinai
“Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.” Exodus 19:18
Again, God’s presence is symbolized by fire and smoke! What a powerful sight to witness! The mountain and the people all trembled, Moses was the mediator of the covenant because the people could not approach the mountain. But look at what good news we have!
“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm… But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Hebrews 12:18;22
Mount Sinai and Mount Zion represent the covenants God made with His people. Mount Sinai, with the powerful fire and storm kept the people from coming near, but Mount Zion brings us into the city of the living God where Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant that allows us to come before God with confidence. We are now part of a new kingdom that will never be defeated.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29
Hebrews 12 closes with a final warning, lest we forget Mount Sinai, “God is a consuming fire.” Jesus brings us close to God, but in our closeness, we must not forget that God is holy and commands our reverent worship be directed to Him alone.
6. Mount Carmel
“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:38
Elijah’s story on Mount Carmel began with the Israelite’s sin, by worshiping Baal, and ended with God’s fire consuming the sacrifice that Elijah offered to the Lord. With the people wavering between who was the true God, after the fire came down and licked up the wood, sacrifice and even water, there had to be no doubt in their minds that they had been worshipping the wrong god. God answered Elijah’s prayer and He performed one of the most astounding fire works in history and all the people fell to the ground proclaiming, “The Lord- He is God! The Lord- He is God!”
As we look again at all God has done, let our faith be placed in Him alone, worshipping and serving Him, the Lord-the Lord He is God!
7. The Chariots of Fire (x2)
“As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” 2 Kings 2:11
What a way to go! Elisha must have been surprised by this scene, Elijah, his mentor is taken from him and he is left alone as "the man of God" and would see Elijah no more. As Elijah was being taken away, Elisha cried out, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" Elisha would get to see these fiery chariots again while he was serving God here on earth. 2 Kings chapter 6 tells the story about Elisha being surrounded by the Syrians.
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17
Elisha saw God's "fire works" again! It was him who then prayed to open the eyes of Gehazi. Sometimes it seems like the power of the enemy is greater than the One who is with us, but we need to remember that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. May God give us spiritual eyes to see the "fiery chariots of Israel and its horsemen!"
8. The Fiery Furnace
“So, these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace…He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”” Daniel 3:21,25
This fire is unique because it was not one caused by God, but one that was man-made to be the hottest, most powerful fire a man could possibly heat up. Yet, God showed that nothing could compare to His great might over the elements, even the hottest of furnaces! His servants, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown in for not bowing a knee to an idol and God protected them extravagantly, without a single hair from their head or their clothes being affected.
What trust in the true God that brought them to the point of death and ended in a powerful exclamation that only their God was the true God! May our lives and faith when put to the test, come out victorious and bring the true God the glory!
9. Fish on the Fire
“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.” John 21:9
This is another unexpected example of a “fire work”, but it is one worth mentioning because it involves our resurrected Savior, Jesus. I can only imagine the joy in the disciple’s hearts as they came around this fire to a meal prepared by their risen Lord and to see Him face to face, eat with Him and have it confirmed in their human minds once more that He had conquered death. This was the third time He appeared to them as well as giving Simon Peter three opportunities in this chapter to confirm His calling and love for Christ.
Our Savior Jesus had such love for His disciples to serve them, forgive them, and die for them and it is the same powerful love He extends to us. It humbles us to see the Master of the world take the lowly position He did and to offer grace over and over!
10. Tongues of Fire
“And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:3-4
Our list would not be complete without mention of the Holy Spirit! The disciples received God’s amazing power when the Holy Spirit came on them. Starting in Jerusalem they became Christ’s witnesses throughout all the earth, and it all started with the work of God’s fire! The Holy Spirit’s work is evident throughout the whole story of the Bible; from the Smoking Firepot, to Sinai, to the Tent of Meeting and the Temple, God’s presence and His “fire works” are evidence of the Holy Spirit. This story of Pentecost is the beginning of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church and symbolizes God’s presence arriving to live inside His disciples. Jesus promised them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came on them and that is the same promise that He gives to us.
Peter would say “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:28
The Spirit may not come on us with the big “Fire Works” that we see at Pentecost, but we still have the power and presence of God living within us!
Our charge to you is to remember the Fire Works of God throughout history and in your own life. Don’t forget His covenant, His power, and His presence and let Him amaze you and astound you like nothing else can.