We explore the diverse ways Scripture talks about fire. In the last episode, we talked about the way it destroys death and Hades. Now, we look at what the Bible means when it says God is a consuming fire. Both the Old and New Testaments use this phrase to describe God. In Revelation, the old earth is destroyed by fire to make way for the new. Although believers are heirs of God and will reign with him, they must suffer fiery trials with Christ while still on earth. This life matters. The choices we make matter. But we are still unconditionally His if we put our hope in him.
The lake of fire
What is the lake of fire? Is it a place? It could be. The bottomless pit is a place. And we saw Satan thrown in there for a thousand years. When the bad angel was given the key to the bottomless pit and went and opened it up, and the locust-things came out, smoke came out of the bottomless pit, so maybe there’s fire in there. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Maybe. I don’t know. It doesn’t tell us specifically. It just says smoke. But it could be a place. But we’re not told it’s a place.
Let’s look at what we are told about the lake of fire. This fire is the Greek word pyr. I guess we get our word pyrotechnic or pyromaniac from it, which is every male as far as I know—is a pyromaniac, at least when they’re young.
God is a consuming fire
Let’s just look at some verses about fire.
God is a consuming fire. Now it doesn’t say God uses consuming fire. It doesn’t say God turns into a consuming fire. It doesn’t say God sends a consuming fire. It says God is a consuming fire. That’s in Hebrews 12:29. And it’s quoting Deuteronomy. It shows up two times, two different places in Deuteronomy.
We saw in Daniel 7 that there was a beast that was killed. It wasn’t necessarily the same beast as the beast who is thrown directly into the lake of fire that we’ve seen previously. But it sounds similar. I would say it’s more likely than not to be the same beast.
And he’s killed with fire from the throne, from the throne of God.
In Revelation 20:11, look at this thing here. It’s stunning. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.
Now you tell me what’s going to destroy the heaven and the earth that we have now? What’s going to destroy it? Fire. What’s the promise? No more will water ever destroy the earth. Never will water destroy the earth again. Next time, with fire.
And here we have fire destroying the heaven and the earth. And where’s it coming from in verse 11? Jesus’ face. That’s our Jesus. Just think about that for a minute. As you dwell on it, doesn’t it make sense? Who made all this? Who is sustaining it according to Colossians 1? If he weren’t holding it together, what would happen? It would just blow apart.
So doesn’t it make sense that when he says it’s time for something new that just from his face the fire comes, and it’s just all gone?
God can be in Sheol
What else do we have about fire? It’s an interesting thing here about Sheol that’s Hades which is indirectly related to fire. Let’s turn to this one. Psalm 139:8. Now this is really interesting. If I ascend into heaven, You are there—
Who else do we know who’s in heaven right now? He’ll get thrown out at some point. Remember, he gets evicted. Satan! Yeah, Satan’s in heaven right now. So heaven is not just a place where only certain people get to be at this point in time. It’s a place where God’s will is done. We know that from the Lord’s prayer, don’t we? “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We saw that in Job, didn’t we? When Satan shows up, and God says, “Hey, where’ve you been?” And they have this interaction, this trash talk that they do back and forth. God authorizes, you can go do this to Job, because everything that happens is authorized. It’s a theme. Revelation is what happens at the end. It’s the same basic idea.
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, Hades, Sheol, behold, You are there.
We tend to think that hell is a place that God isn’t. But does it make sense for God to make a place that’s independent of him? All things are dependent on God. Nothing exists apart from God. And he’s everywhere except, where? No, he’s everywhere. He’s in heaven; he’s in Hades. Isn’t that interesting?
Now you say, well, there are two compartments in Hades. Well, yeah, it didn’t say he’s just in part of Hades.
So, we see God is everywhere.
Isaiah’s lips were cleansed through burning
Look at Isaiah 6. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Where is he? Our favorite place, right? He’s in the throne room again.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips—”
Here’s the prophet Isaiah, and when he’s faced with Jesus whose face causes the heaven and the earth to fade away, he says something quite reasonable: I have unclean lips! And how does God cure the unclean lips?
Verse 6. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal—
Here you are, my son, my beloved son, who I have special interest in. I have such special interest in you, I’m giving you one of the greatest commissions that could ever be given to a human. I’m going to have you speak my words.
And here’s how I’m going to prepare you to speak my words. I want you to take this burning ember and burn your face off with it! Just stick it on your lips! And singe them. Cauterize them! And then we’ll be ready to go.
“Well, do you have another job in mind, maybe? My resume doesn’t fit that too good.”
Does that just apply to just a prophet? Well, it gets more and more unfortunate all the time.
Look at 1 Peter 4:12. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
This word fiery trial, the root word is pyr, the same word as lake of fire.
So, God is giving us an amazing opportunity by giving us a coal to stick on our lips, by subjecting us to fire in our lives now, on this earth. We get the wonderful opportunity to walk through the fire.
Or we can avoid it. We can say, no, not me. I don’t want that. Make it go away. But what he’s exhorting here is, “no, no, no! When these really bad trials come to you, this fire, when you see the fire, it’s wonderful!” Because it’s allowing you to learn the same things Jesus learned. Who through obedience did the will of God and learned obedience even to death on the cross. He was a faithful witness and didn’t fear death. You see how this just keeps rolling and rolling through this book?
Because of that his name was elevated above every name. And he is now on the throne of the world—not just the universe, but the world—as a man. And do you know what he wants?
Unlike Satan as a dictator—how many people does Satan want on the throne? One. Right? It wasn’t good enough for him that God put him over the world. That wasn’t good enough because God was still above him. He wanted God’s spot, and he wanted to be the only one on the top.
Well, just the opposite of that, as you would expect, Jesus says, I won this chair. I won this seat. I won this amazing throne. And what I want is I want to share it with everyone who’s willing to embrace the sufferings that I embraced.
It’s mind boggling. It’s unimaginable. This is the guy whose face causes the earth to melt and the universe to melt. He says, I’m going to bring all things to culmination. I’m going to rule. And I want you to share it with me. But you’ve got to learn what I learned.
And the only way you can do that is in this life, because you can learn it by faith. That’s it. And it’s your opportunity.
The second death and the believer
It just makes us think a different way about fire. We know nothing can separate us from the love of God. So how can the second death have power over someone who doesn’t go through the first resurrection but still is a believer?
Let’s look at Romans 8. In Romans 8, it’s talking about how we can know that we’re a child of God. It’s really simple. What do you have to do to be a child of God? Believe. How much do you have to believe? Enough to look. As the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that all who believe will have everlasting life. All they had to do was look. It’s not that hard.
Jesus said, if you don’t believe my words, just at least believe my miracles. That’s good enough. It doesn’t take much! This is not that hard. Just believe.
Well, how can I know I believe? Verse 15 of Romans 8. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
So, the Spirit tells us. If you have this inner voice that says, “I’m your Father,” then God’s your father. That’s not something that comes and goes. If you’ve had it, you’re in. You’re a child of God. Nobody can ever take it away from you.
Does that mean we can go out and just do whatever we want to? Yes, it actually does mean that. But does it mean we can go out and do whatever we want to and there’s no consequences? No. No, it doesn’t mean that. Which is what the book of Romans is about.
Verse 16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God—
He’ll let you know. And if he lets you know, you don’t ever have to doubt it.
And if children, then heirs—heirs of God—
You know what? We inherit God as an inheritance no matter how bad we are. No matter whether we miss the first resurrection. No matter whether we think we are sharing the throne of God. No matter whether we think we’re kings and priests. No matter whether we’re overcomers. This is an unconditional statement. We’re heirs of God. It’s a wonderful starting place.
Generally speaking, in this world, if you don’t give belonging to your children, they will go seek it from somewhere, and likely a pretty destructive spot because places like cults know how to prey on people who need belonging, and they give it to them conditionally. Which people are generally happy to have because then it gives them some semblance that they control their belonging, which is a very fundamental need.
But God doesn’t do it that way. He just gives us belonging. You belong. It’s unconditional.
Heirs unconditionally. Joint heirs conditionally.
Now what? We’re heirs of God but joint heirs of Christ if. If is conditional, isn’t it? Either you do or you don’t.
We have God as an heir, no matter what. He’s our Father. That’s not up for debate. But if we want the birthright, we can’t be like Esau. Esau was his father’s son, no matter what. And his father so desperately wanted to bless him, didn’t he? Remember that? He loved Esau. That never stopped. But the consequences were the consequences.
Joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him—
Do not consider it confusing things when you have fire in your life, when you have fiery trials. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn the sufferings of Christ that we may also be glorified together with him and share his throne. The guy whose face melts the universe wants to say, Dan, come sit with me. Isn’t that stunning? It’s not automatic. This isn’t a participation-trophy kind of thing. There are winners and losers.
Fire. Our God is a consuming fire. He uses fire.
Well, what does that look like? If it’s not a place—it could be a place. It doesn’t tell us it is or it isn’t. We’re just reacting to what we can see, right? But what could it be based on what we see?
Satan in the lake of fire
There is a really fascinating verse in Ezekiel 28, and God pronounces disaster on Satan, and he’ll be brought low. Let’s just look at what Satan’s life is going to be like in the lake of fire, and then we’ll pick this back up next time.
Ezekiel 28:11 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God:
“You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God:
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created
You were the anointed cherub who covers—
Who are we talking about? Satan. No question about it. Actually, he’s Lucifer at this point. He didn’t get the “Satan the accuser” title until later.
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
I’ve just got to pause and say the gems used to be alive and kind of out with us where we could see them and wear them. You know, I think that’s going to happen again. Ladies, your jewel closets are going to take on a new meaning.
Verse 16. Till iniquity was found in you.
By the abundance of your trading
You became filled with violence within,
And you sinned;
Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
Out of the mountain of God;
And I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the fiery stones.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings,
That they might gaze at you.
You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever.”
There’s another verse, Isaiah 14:12-17 that’s the same sort of thing. Let’s just read it real quick.
How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’
Is this the man?
When Satan is thrown into the lake of fire it seems as though people will be able to walk by and say, “Look at who that is! Is that beggar over there under that bridge holding up that cardboard sign—is that Satan, really? Do you know what he used to do? Do you know who he used to be? You won’t believe—“
You’ve seen those documentaries on the guy who was the Super Bowl champion, and now he’s on skid row and sold his Super Bowl ring for drug money. And now he’s on TV. That’s what it sounds like Satan’s going to be.
So ponder this and we’ll talk about it next time. One possibility is that the lake of fire is the face of Jesus. And in that face is going to have to sit somebody like Satan who in that presence is brought in so low that people are going to walk by and see and say, man oh man. Could you have a fall bigger than that?
Now if you were Satan, which would you rather have, that or being in solitary confinement the rest of your life? When you think of it that way, it might be the worst possible thing. The guy who wants to be over all is now under all.
Again, don’t want to add anything. I’m not adding anything! I’m just giving you things to think about. God, I’m trying not to add anything.