Fire is the most prevalent, destructive yet, if controlled, beneficial power in the universe. Man, therefore, largely credits his ability to control fire for being able to swing out the trees and build modern civilization, to heat homes, forge steel, make electricity, and even rocket to the moon. But man cannot control all fire. He cannot control the fires of lighting and lava. He cannot control his fiery passions whereby he uses fire to sin, serve idols, shoot his neighbor, bomb cities to rubble, and thus also worry about living only a twitchy finger from nuclear oblivion. But most importantly, man cannot control God, who is a consuming fire and has reserved all the fire in the universe for the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly man (; ).
Fire belongs to God’s glory. And, although most closely associated with His wrath, fire essentially represents God’s holy, jealous, and vehement love for Himself, for His honor and His righteousness, which indeed is beneficial for anything holy as He is holy, but which breaks forth to consume everything opposed to Himself and His glorious, holy love (; ; ). The first mention of fire, besides the flaming swords that guarded Eden after the Fall, was the fire God rained on Sodom as an example of the eternal fire reserved for those who fornicate and indulge in strange flesh ( ; ). And throughout history, God, with flaming eyes, devouring tongue, and smoking nostrils, has melted, burned, and destroyed with fire untold individuals, cities, and nations for their sin ( ; ; ). In His just judgment, even wickedness itself becomes a fire, especially sins of the tongue, which, ignited by the fires of hell, burn everything in its path and turns liar, gossip, slanderer, and tale-bearer into serial arsonists who kindle strife ( ; ; ). Even name-calling endangers one of hell fire ( ).
Behold, the Lord still is coming in flaming fire to take vengeance on all who know not God and obey not the gospel (II Thess. 1:8). He comes to render His anger with fury and rebuke with flames of fire (). Then, the sun shall scorch men with fire and the mountains on fire shall fall into the sea ( ). Then, in trial by fire, every man’s work shall be revealed of what sort it is ( ). And then, every tree that did not produce fruit, all the fearful, unbelieving, abominable, murders, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars, all the chaff, the tares, and the goats, all those who offended and did iniquity, all who worshiped the beast, persecuted the church, and are not found in the book of life, with the devil, beast, and false prophet, and even death and the grave, shall all be cast into the lake and furnace of everlasting, unquenchable fire and there be tormented forever ( ).
So how to control this fire? Repent, for except you repent, you shall likewise perish (). Believe, for faith quenches the violence of fire ( ). Do not justify or believe in yourself, for you are a sinner who deserves and cannot sustain this fire ( ; Heidelberg Catechism, LD 5). Repent and believe in Jesus. Believe that Jesus, in unquenchable love for everyone given unto Him by the Father, descended from heaven into that raging inferno of God’s wrath for your sins, and as the Lamb slain and burnt offering of sweet savor unto God, delivered you from the torments of hell (Heidelberg Catechism, LD 16; ; ). Believe that as you are baptized with water, so He baptized you by His loving Word and with His Holy Spirit, and by this pillar of fire, will dwell and talk with you, enlighten, warm, sanctify, protect, and guide you to everlasting glory ( ; ; ). Believe His promise that, being justified, when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and that even if your works are burned, you shall be saved ( ; ). Believe also that such faith, being more precious than gold, though tried with fire, will be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus ( ).