God of Fire
Is God a God of Fire because He burns the lost or is it fire in some other sense?
Here are some examples where there was fire in God's presence:
Moses and the burning bush burn:
"And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. ... God called unto him out of the midst of the bush ..." (Exo 3:2,4)
The pillar of fire that lead the Israelites:
"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:" (Exo 13:21)
Mount Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments:
"And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." (Exo 19:18)
The dedication of the wilderness tabernacle:
"For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys." (Exo 40:38)
The tongues of fire at Pentecost:
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." (Acts 2:3)
Right in the presence of the throne of God there is a "sea of glass mingled with fire."
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass ..." (Rev 4:6)
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire ..." (Rev 15:2)
Notice that in each of the above cases nothing was physically burned up or harmed by the fire. A summary verse that makes sense of all this is one that describes God and as a God of fire:
"For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb 12:29)
Satan's lie is that you don't want to go to the eternal fire and yet that is the very presence of God. Remember, when Moses was in God's presence some of that brightness came upon Him so that his face radiated God's glory:
"And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him." (Exo 34:30)
Moses did not have facial burns; in fact, he wasn't even aware that his face was shining (Exo 34:29).
This brightness from the glory/presence of the God of fire has a different effect on the wicked - the Israelites who had recently been involved in idolatry were afraid to look at Moses (Exo 34:30). When Jesus returns we are told what effect His brightness will have:
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:" (2 Thess 2:8)
While there will eventually be a physical cleansing fire where even "the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Pet 3:12) there is a sense in which the brightness of Jesus' coming will have a different effect. We know that fire consumes (fuel plus oxygen produces smoke and ash - which shows that burning cannot go on forever) and that, in a sense, it is sin that will be consumed by the God of fire.