“He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)
As Pentecostals we understand the part—“ with the Holy Ghost”—but what about the fire?
More than 300 times fire is mentioned in the bible. It is often a symbol of God, His judgment or His acceptance. The angels, as ministers of God, are compared to fire. At His second coming, Jesus will appear in fire. The Holy Ghost is compared to fire. Fire and sacrifices are often linked together.
Abraham took fire with him to Moriah (Gen. 22:6). Peter warmed by a fire in the temple courtyard (Matt. 14:54). Paul helped build a fire on the island of Melita (Acts 28:2-3). Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire in the tabernacle (Lev. 10:1).
However, there is one fire that makes the difference—the fire of God’s holy, manifested presence and power.
“And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar….which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 9:24)
“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven…and the glory of the Lord filled the house…and when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down…they bowed…and worshipped…” (II Chr. 7:1,3)
In both these instances, there had been much planning, work, activity, and sacrifice from the people. However, it is when they had waited before the altar that the fire of God fell and the people were affected.
The fire that makes the difference comes on those who tarry at the altar of prayer and sacrifice. There is no substitute for the fire of God. The “strange fire” offered by Nadab and Abihu is clearly man’s attempt to act in the things of God without seeking the mind of God! Death is the result of this careless spirituality!
A new millineum is open before us—a new decade, a new year, a new month, a new day. The most important thing we can do is to wait at the altar of prayer until the fire of God, His manifested presence and holiness, comes in its fullness of power. And if we do, when we do, He will come, and the people will bow and worship.
As the royal priesthood of the New Testament church, we need to be aware of our responsibility to the altar.
“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning…The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” (Lev. 6;12-13)
Prayer is the priority to preaching, studying, organizing, working, planning, singing, and shouting. Paul wrote “…first of all….prayers…” (I Tim. 2:1)
God’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but what have we made it? (Mark 11:17)
The maximum or minimum results of all our efforts in the new millennium, will be determined by the ministry of prayer. It will be the fire that will make the difference.