The Holy Spirit And Fire
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 30 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
So often in the Bible the Holy Spirit is associated with fire. This was so concerning John the Baptist. Luke 3:16, "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." The Holy Spirit was likened unto fire at Pentecost. Acts 2:3, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." The cleansing power of the Holy Spirit was symbolized by fire in Isaiah 6:6,7, "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged."
We find that His ministers are made a flame of fire. Hebrews 1:7, "And the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." The Word of God was as fire in the bones of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 20:99, "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more of His name. But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could not stay." David said that while he was musing, the fire burned. Psalm 39:3, "My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue."
Obviously then, the Holy Spirit appears by fire. When God accepted a sacrifice, He showed His pleasure by sending fire to consume the sacrifice. I Chronicles 21:26, "And David built there and altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt-offering and peach-offerings, and called upon the Lord; and He answered him from Heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering." This is what happened to Cain and Abel. They knew that God accepted Abel's sacrifice because He consume it by fire. This why Elijah prayed for fire to consume the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel. This is no doubt the way that God showed His acceptance of the sacrifice on the day of atonement.
There was another fire in the Bible. This fire was provided by God. Leviticus 6:12, "And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt-offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace-offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace-offering." It was the fire upon the altar in the courtyard of the tabernacle. It was always to burn. Leviticus 6:13, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
Coals from this fire were taken to the altar of incense. Leviticus 16:12, 13, "And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vial: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not." The altar of incense was the last piece of furniture in the tabernacle before entering though the veil to the holy of holies. This incense sending its fragrance heavenward was a beautiful symbol of the prayer life of the child of God. Notice that this symbol of prayer must come from the burning coals of the altar where the lamb was slain. God is telling us that there is no way to come to Himself, even in prayer, unless we come through the Lamb of God, even Jesus, Who shed His blood for our sins.
There were two men in the Bible, Nadab and Abihu, who offered other fire on the altar of incense. Leviticus 10:1,2, "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not." Now why was their fire unacceptable? It was unacceptable because it did not come from the brazen altar where the lamb was slain. There is no real fire unless the fire comes from the cross of Calvary and from our Lamb Who gave His life on that cross. Only bloody coals are allowed by God to send up fragrance to the throne of grace.
Bear in mind that the fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Any work that the Holy Spirit does must be based on the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit did not even come in the manner that He works in this age until Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead. Any kind of work the Holy Spirit does He does only for those who have been to Calvary, those who have been washed in the blood. Any other fire is false fire; any other so-called gifts of the Spirit are false gifts of the Spirit. There are those today all across America who claim to have the gifts of the Spirit, who believe in the apocrypha books, who pray to Mary, who believe in purgatory, and there are those who even do not believe in the vicarious death of Christ who claim to have gifts of the Spirit. This is foolishness and unscriptural. Nobody can have the real fire (Holy Spirit power) unless that fire comes from the cross of Calvary and is sprinkled by the precious blood of Jesus, our Saviour.
Because it is the Holy Spirit Who has been rejected by this age, He will be given the executioner's role in the tribulation period. So many of the judgments are made by fire. For example, look at Revelation 8:1-6, "And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in Heaven about the space of half and hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censor, and filled it with fire and the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightenings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound." Notice in the following verses that one third of the trees will be burned with fire. All green grass will be burned with fire. There is a mountain burning with fire. There is a burning fire that makes one-third of the water bitter. One-third of the sun is darkened.
Then it is perfectly Scriptural to speak of one who is filled with the Holy Spirit as being "on fire for God." It certainly was in order when the Emmaus disciples spoke of their hearts burning when Jesus spoke with them. Luke 24:32, "And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" John Wesley used to say, "I just set myself on fire and folks come to watch me as I burn."
Fire is chosen to symbolize the Holy Spirit, no doubt, because of what it does. Fire burns out the dross. Fire gives light. Fire gives warmth. Oh, to be on fire for God! May the fire fall for us as it did in Elijah's day! May people who hear us have burning hearts! May we be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire! May the Word of God burn in our hearts like unto fire!
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY