Attracted to fire

by Pastor Doug Engel

I’m pretty sure I get my attraction to fire honestly. My dad loved to clean up an area by lighting a match. I remember one time that my dad was over at my brother’s farmyard. There was a big slough close to the yard and he just couldn’t help himself! He struck the match and threw it onto some dead grass and away it went. The flames, reaching high, and the great white billow of smoke could be seen for miles.

That’s when I got the call to come and help. The fire had gotten away and was too close to the yard. By the time I got there it was actually burning underneath the fuel tank (gas, not diesel!). It was the most dangerous place but also the most critical. We did put the fire out eventually without losing anything in the yard. “Thank you Jesus!”

When I was a teenager I would build what we called a potato cannon. This was done by taping hollowed out juice cans together. The bottom can was perforated at the top and had a pinhole on the bottom. What I would do is squirt a little gasoline into the pinhole and let it gas off in the bottom section for a few seconds and then light it. It made the most delightful exploding sound. I could launch my homemade rocket high into the air and across the yard.

When I think back on those days it’s a wonder none of us were seriously hurt. I did singe all the hair off my face one time but that’s another story!

The Bible talks about fire coming down from heaven on more than one occasion and usually it had to do with judgement “for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). For example, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their wickedness (Gen. 19). One of the ten judgements on Egypt was hail mixed with fire (Ex. 9). It was noted that nothing like this had ever been seen before since Egypt was a nation.

One of the strangest stories in the New Testament is when Jesus sent messengers ahead to have a meal and accommodations readied in a Samaritan village. When the locals heard that Jesus was actually heading to Jerusalem they refused them any hospitality! Two of the disciples, James and John, were livid! They asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). They weren’t asking Jesus to do it but they were asking permission to do it themselves! Jesus rebuked them immediately. I think he was trying to tell them something about God’s judgement with fire. Jesus has no desire to send anyone to hell!

Hell is real, however. In the end, judgement will come and hell will be filled. “And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20). “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15).

As much as I’ve always been attracted to fire, hell is one fire I have no interest in messing with. Again, I want to clearly state that Jesus has no interest in sending anyone to hell. His death and resurrection promises life to anyone who will receive it. If you haven’t, why not today?