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  • Rick LoPresti

The value of fire

The laws of physics teach us the conservation of mass, matter, and energy. In summary, this means that in a closed system, there is no new mass, matter, or energy. Nothing new is introduced. Things can cannot be newly created or completely destroyed. They can only change state. In Genesis 2:1-3, the Bible says that the heavens and the earth were finished, God ended His work of creating, and He rested from His creative work. The word finished means completed, ended is the same Hebrew word, and rested means ceased and is almost the exact same word translated sabbath. This does not mean God was tired and needed to recuperate. It also does not mean God does not work at any more all as the deists teach. It means that God was done creating and ceased to create new things. The natural world was completed and in its original state was very good (Gen 1:31). God has not added any new creations to the natural world (Ecc 1:9). There was no sin, suffering, death or destruction. After man sinned, the order of things changed (Gen 3, Rom 5:12-21, Rom 8:19-23). Sin, suffering, death, and destruction entered in. Yet despite the devastation sin brought, nothing God created was destroyed. It only changed states. For example, when Satan and other angels sinned and fell, they lost their original state, but they are still angels (Ps 78:49, Job 1-2, Lk 10:18, Heb 2:2, 2Pet 2:4, Jude 6, Rev 12:9). Though man fell in sin, he is still man. In fact even those who die in sin are not destroyed. They will live forever in one sense as well as the righteous. They will just live in another state called the lake of fire (Jn 5:24-29, Rev 20:11-15). The fallen angels cannot regain their original state, but man can. In fact, the whole redemptive plan of God is restore man to his original state (Rev 21-22).

Fire does not destroy anything. It only changes its state. It can make it better, or it can make it useless; but it cannot completely eliminate matter. In the old Testament, fire turned a dead animal into sacrifice unto God. Fire turns useless ore into precious metal. Fire demonstrates what sort of material something is made of (1Cor 3:13). It did not destroy the burning bush or the 3 Hebrews (Ex 3, Dan 3). Fire tests our faith and character (1Pet 1:7).

Fire provides light and heat. It is a priority of everyone who is in the wilderness. When the Israelites left Egypt, God guided them by a pillar of fire in the wilderness (Ex 13:21-22). The desert can get quite cold at night. Fire provides protection. When the Egyptians came out to recapture the Israelites, the pillar of fire became a wall separating the 2 nations until the Red Sea had parted (Ex 14:24, Zech 2:5). Aaron's censer of fire and incense stopped the plague (Nm 16:46).

Fire symbolizes the presence of God (Ex 3:2-3, Ex 13:21-22, Ex 19:18, Eze 1:27, Dan 7:9, REv 1:14, Rev 2:18). Fire was integral in the tabernacle. It was on it (Ex 40:38, Num 9:15-16). It was to always burn on the altar (Lev 6). It was used on the altar of incense (Lev 16:12-13). It was the light of the golden candlestick which was to never go out (Lev 24:4). Fire symbolizes the judgment of God (Gen 19, Ex 9:23-24, Lev 10:2, Num 11:1-3, Num 16:35-37, Deut 4:24, Jud 9, Job 1:16, Jer 23:29, Amos 1-2, 2Thes 1:8, 2Pet 3:7-12, Rev 9:17-18, Rev 14:10, Rev 20:9-15). Fire depicts hell and the final destination of the unsaved (Mt 3:11-12, Mt 5:22, Mt 7:19, Mt 13:40-50, Mt 18:8-9, Mt 25:41, Rev 20:9-15).

Fire renews. When we hear of forest fires, we are focused on the devastation. Yet the fire is a great renewal agent, sparking great regeneration. Yellowstone Park is America's first national park, and a great treasure. In 1988, it suffered a great fire which burned 36% of its land, or 793,880 acres. Yet it was not long before the renewal started.

The trials and tests of life will touch everyone. We will all experience some fire. Fire cannot destroy us if we keep our faith in God (Ps 66:12, Is 43:2). It can only change us. We determine what the fire does to us by our response to it. Will we get better or bitter? Will we be purged of impurities, or be burned up? Will we be on the right side of the wall of fire and be protected, or will we fall in the Red Sea? Will we walk in the revealing light and become a warmer person, or will we distance ourselves in coldness and darkness? Will we have the fire of the Holy Ghost in our hearts saving us (Acts 2:1-4), or the fire of eternal judgment? Will we focus on what the fire burns away, or the renewing it brings? The fire does not decide these things. We do.

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