They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
— Acts 2:3
The New Testament uses several unique images to represent the person and work of the Holy Spirit. One image shows the Holy Spirit as fire. On Pentecost, following the sound of rushing wind filling the house where the apostles were staying, what appeared to be tongues of flame rested on each of them. They were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit, and their lives were changed forever.
A number of Old Testament passages help us understand the Holy Spirit as fire in the New Testament. Primarily fire represents the presence of God, as when Moses encountered God at the burning bush, and later when God appeared in a pillar of fire to lead his people in the wilderness (Exodus 3:2; 13:21).
In Acts, the tongues of fire represent the presence of God the Holy Spirit. This fulfills John the Baptist’s prophecy that the Messiah would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). This also means that the purifying work of the Holy Spirit carries on in our lives today. The Spirit comes into our lives to transform us, cleansing and purifying us to become more like Christ in our daily living.
The thought of being purified by fire can be terrifying, but we can be assured that the same holy God who gave his only Son and poured out his Spirit at Pentecost wants to make us holy, just as he is holy.
Holy Spirit, enter our lives today as you did with the believers at Pentecost. Cleanse and purify us so that we can radiate the glory of Jesus in our world. Amen.
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