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The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary

Fire

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Is one of the great elements in nature by which the Lord is pleased to carry on the purposes of his holy will in the kingdoms of his government. But in Scripture language it is used upon many occasions. JEHOVAH himself is compared to a consuming fire. (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29) And agreeably to this, we find numberless appearances made of the divine presence in fire. To Moses at the bush, Exodus 3:2 at the giving of the law on Mount Siani, Exodus 19:18-19. To Isaiah in the vision, Isaiah 6:4. To Ezekiel at the river Chebar, Ezekiel 1:4. And to the beloved apostle John at Patmos, Revelation 1:14.

Add to these, the Lord is pleased to reveal himself under the similitude of fire, in several parts of Scripture. Thus the prophet Malachi describes Jesus in his priestly office as a refiner's fire. (Malachi 3:2) And John the Baptist, when drawing a comparison between the Lord and himself, in order to exalt his master, and set forth his own nothingness, saith, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11)

And it is worthy of farther remark, that many manifestations of the Lord's, under the Old Testament, were made by fire. In the covenant manifestations to Abraham, it was the representation of a "smoking furnace, and a burning lamp." (Genesis 15:17-18) In the church in the wilderness, the going of the Lord before his people was under the form of a "pillar of fire." (Exodus 13:21) Yea, the unceasing representation of the Lord on the altar, was by the "holy fire that never went out." (Leviticus 6:13) And in short, the many manifestations made by fire of the Lord's presence and favour in the answers of the Lord to his servants, all shew the vast solemnity of the thing itself. (See Leviticus 9:24; Judges 13:19-20; 2 Chronicles 7:1; 1 Kings 18:38)

It must not be omitted either to observe, that the ministering spirits and servants of the Lord from the upper and brighter world, are frequently spoken of under the same similitude. The Lord is said to make "his angels spirits; and his ministers a flaming fire." (Psalms 104:4) And the Psalmist elsewhere speaks of the chariots of God as chariots of fire, when at the Lord's brightness that"was before him, thick clouds passed, hail stones, and coals of fire." (Psalms 18:10-12) And Daniel, in his lofty description, saith, that "a fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him." (Daniel 7:10) And Habakkuk also, "Before him (saith he,) went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet." (Habakkuk 3:5)

The word of God is compared also to fire. "Is not my word like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29) And hence, in allusion to the same, the Lord Jesus declares the purpose of his coming is to this effect. "I am come (saith Christ,) to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" (Luke 12:49) And one of the apostles declares that in the end of the dispensation of the gospel, "every man's work shall be tried by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13)

And lastly, to mention no more, the torments of the damned are uniformly described in Scripture under the image of fire. Some of the most sublime, and at the same time most awful passages in Scripture, are made use of in the description. Moses introduces the Lord as speaking in this language. "A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell; and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the nations." (Deuteronomy 32:22) And Isaiah, as if in contemplation of the horrors of this eternal fire, exclaims: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites: who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14) And our blessed Lord adopts the same language in allusion to the same awful destruction of the wicked. He speaks of a worm that never dieth, and a fire that never is quenched. And this Jesus repeats three times, following each other, in the same chapter. (Mark 9:44-48) And in his solemn description of the last day, in the tremendous judgment of it, he hath already recorded the very words with which he will speak to the sinners. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and all his angels." (Matthew 25:41) John also, more largely dwells upon the subject in his book of the Revelations. (See Revelation 20:1-15 throughout.)

Whether this fire is to be considered as the common, natural, and elementary fire, or whether the expressions are figurative, hath been the subject of much enquiry among persons whom the world hath been accustomed to call learned. But the world have sadly mistaken their name, in calling those learned who would fritter away the plain truths of Scripture into metaphor and figure. Indeed, nothing can more strongly mark the weakness of the human understanding, than the disputes which have been brought forward, in different ages of the church, by way of doing away the doctrine of the eternity of hell-torments. For unless men could persuade themselves, that God is not able to punish sin (of which the miseries and sorrows of the present life too plainly prove the contrary,) or that God will not make good his word in doing it (which his truth and veracity too awfully declare he will,) it matters not in what that punishment consists. Exactly suited to the deserts of sin, in every instance, we may be sure it will be. Too wise to err, too just: to do wrong, becomes a decided answer to all the indecent and unbecoming objections of unbelievers.

Here, therefore, let the faithful rest. The plain, the sure, the unalterable language of the word of God on this momentous point, is summed up in a few words.—"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." And at the same time it is said: "For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever." (Psalms 9:17-18) This is enough to ascertain the fact. The farther enquiry in what that hell for the wicked consists, or what will be the fulness of the Lord's remembrance to his poor and needy, both these points may be very safely left with him. The apostle Paul makes a full conclusion of the subject, for the exercise of faith to the church, and such as may be sufficient to answer all the cavils of men, until the whole comes to be realized. Speaking to the church concerning the unjust sufferings the people of God endure from the ungodly, he saith, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus should be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Fire'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/pmd/f/fire.html. London. 1828.

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