Fire is one of the most amazing powers in God’s creation. Sitting by a bonfire on a cool evening can be relaxing and mesmerizing. Fire, however, can also be deadly. Many people were killed in fires after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Many others perished in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and in other blazes around this same time in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and Holland, Michigan. God used fire during Biblical times to display His power. Elijah prophesied that Ahaziah, one of Ahab’s sons, would die of illness sustained in a fall because he consulted Baalzebub, the god of the city of Ekron which belonged to the Philistines. Ahaziah was not very pleased with this turn of events and sent a group of fifty soldiers to arrest Elijah and put him in prison. God sent fire from heaven and consumed these fifty men and their captain. The same thing happened to the next group of fifty men and their captain. The third captain and his fifty men were spared from this fate and Elijah went with them to prophecy to Ahaziah concerning his death. Elijah saw God’s power demonstrated in fire once more. He had killed the 450 Baal prophets after proving on Mount Carmel that Jehovah is God. God sent fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar and everything else around it connected with the sacrifice.
Sometimes God sends trials to us that seem like we are going through a major fire. “For thou, O God hast proved us: thou hast tried us as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.”(Psalm 66:10-12). This theme is continued in the book of Malachi: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3). The meaning here is that, just as a gold or silver smith takes what he believes to be gold or silver and burns away the impurities to get at the metal, so too God does the same thing with us. He uses the trials in our lives to purge us of sin and make us fit for heaven. The persecution that we will experience in the end times will be an intense time. “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy”(I Peter 4:12,13). Nevertheless, God has not and never will bring on us more than we are able to bear “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee (Isaiah 43:2). May that be our comfort as we go through the trials of life.