Finding Him in the Fire
John the Baptist once accosted august and venerable people. He confronted the teachers of wisdom, the speakers of the oracles, scribes, and leaders of the Pharisees. He warned them of coming fire if they failed to purify themselves, and produce fruit for the kingdom. “As for me, I immerse you in water for repentance,” he explained. “But the One coming after me is mightier than I am. I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will immerse you in the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in fire” (Matthew 3:11).
Being immersed in fire recalls the Day of the Lord, which comes like a burning oven (Malachi 4:1). But, aish, the word for fire, also tells another story. Aish is spelled Alef Shin. The letter Alef is the “father” of the Hebrew alphabet since it is the first letter of the alphabet. Consequently, it signifies the Father in heaven. The letter Shin begins the word Shaddai, one of the Almighty’s great names. The idea here is that fire belongs to Him, and He uses it to judge or to bless.
For Isaiah, fire was a blessing. He once recoiled from a divine vision. “I am ruined!” he cried. “For I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, Adonai Tzva’ot!”
One creature in the vision was a seraph, a word which describes one who burns with fire. The seraph responded to Isaiah’s remorse with a burning coal from the altar. He touched the coal to Isaiah’s mouth and declared, “Your iniquity is removed and forgiven.” Altar fire purified him. It removed everything which was incompatible with the holiness of Elohim. Fire brought him closer to the Father. It healed the separation.
Our fiery trials can do the same. Fire doesn’t answer the questions. It heals the relationship.
Published March 20, 2018