Fire from Heaven Fire from God

Fire from God? This study looks at questions like: Is “fire from heaven” fire from God? Is it always from God? Is it ever from God? This verse would suggest perhaps yes:

“For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29)

That makes it sound as though getting too close to God or crossing His will might be a problem. Here is the list of cases I found where it at least seems to be talking of fire from heaven or fire from God:

  • Job
  • Sodom and Gomorrah
  • Tabernacle consecration
  • Nadab and Abihu
  • Rebellion of Korah
  • David’s offering at Ornan’s threshing Floor
  • Solomon’s temple dedication
  • Elijah on Mt. Carmel
  • Elijah and the captains of fifty
  • Coals of fire on their heads
  • Fire at Pentecost
  • Fire coming soon
  • Fire in the trumpets
  • Revelation’s cleansing fire
  • The final physical cleansing
  • Fire in heaven

The idea is to look at each of these to determine whether God was responsible or not. We will look at each one, some quite briefly, to see how many, if any, are cases of God physically harming people. You may be left with some questions but links to resource pages are provided for further study.

Fire From God: Job

The story of Job is important because it reveals events behind the scenes:

“And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: 14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” (Job 1:13-16)

It is helpful to look at the meaning of “heaven” in that verse. Paul speaks of the third heaven indicating three spaces that could be called heaven:

“I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” (2 Cor 12:2)

Three Heavens

  1. Where the birds fly and the clouds float
  2. Outer space, beyond Earth’s atmosphere
  3. God’s home/paradise (somewhere in 2)

Note this use of the word “heaven”:

“I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.” (Jer 4:25)

“Heavens” there is the same Hebrews word as “heaven” in Job 1:16. It is referring to the sky, the atmosphere surrounding the earth. So, there is a clue, that the fire is not coming from God’s home. But is the fire still somehow from God? Earlier in Job 1 we read:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. 7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:6-12)

Satan was given permission to test Job and apparently Satan is capable of sending fire from the sky.

In this first book of the Bible that was written, it is shown that Satan can cause disasters and then will try to blame them on God. Could be important to know? It is apparent that the fire in Job 1 was from Satan and not from God. 

Fire Upon Sodom and Gomorrah

 “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;” (Gen 19:24)

 That verse says God did it; this verse says how is was done:

 “The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.” (Deut 29:23 NKJV)

 We need to understand the Biblical meaning especially in light of this:

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

God’s anger must be different than man’s. So, what is God’s anger/wrath? Romans gives a good explanation:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” (Rom 1:18)

The question is “how is God’s wrath revealed?” Paul gives the answer:

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: … For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Rom 1:24, 26-28)

Here is an Old Testament verse that explains it very well:

“Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.”  (Deut 31:17-18)

That example of anger follows this formula:

Man Sins,
God, in Wrath/anger
Accommodates man’s decisions and
Trouble comes (from a source other than God)

Read more of how that works and see more than 70 Biblical examples.

“Anger” and “wrath” are commonly translated from the Hebrew word “aph” which can mean displeasure, sadness or strong emotion.

Notice how the people involved in all the evils even understood that as the reason God was not among them. Today, people are not so aware of the effects of apostasy from God.

The “gave them up/over” that Paul speaks of is equivalent to “visiting the iniquity” (Exodus 20:5) or allowing natural consequences or allowing the sowing/reaping process to play out.

The Role of the Angels

“For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” (Gen 19:13)

The word “sent” is the Hebrew “shalach” in the Piel verb form. The Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew dictionary gives the meanings:

  • to send off or away or out or forth, dismiss, give over, cast out
  • to let go, set free
  • to shoot forth (of branches)
  • to let down
  • to shoot

It can be expressed as send away, dismiss or let go or set free. So, the verse could be translated like this:

“For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us away allowing its destruction.” (Gen 19:13)

The angels are simply removing their protection. Angels do have a protective role to prevent the action of the destroyer:

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” (Rev 7:1)

The fire and brimstone may have come from something like a volcanic explosion that spewed the material into air so that it rained down on the doomed cities. Whatever the exact mechanism, it is apparent that the destructive fire was not from God.

Tabernacle Consecration

At the consecration of the tabernacle which Moses built there was fire:

And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev 9:24)

That fire, along with the glory of the Lord appearing (verse 23) signaled God’s approval of the people’s offering.

Nadab and Abihu

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” (Lev 10:1-2)

Notice that they “offered strange fire …which he commanded them not.” They were being disobedient which opened a breach allowing Satan to afflict or accuse them. Here is an illustration of how a breach works:

This is interesting:

“And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.” (Lev 10:4-5)

It is evident that this was not a physical fire that burned up their bodies as their clothing was still intact. The story is similar to the breach of Uzzah where there was no fire.

This was not destructive fire from God.

Rebellion of Korah

And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” (Num 16:35)

These are the men who sided with Korah in the rebellion described in detail here. The same group is mentioned in an earlier verse as those who murmured against Moses:

“For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?” (Num 16:11)

A New Testament verse tells us who they were destroyed by.

“Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (1 Cor 10:9-10)

We could ask “would Satan destroy those who are rebelling against Moses?” It would seem they are on Satan’s side. Of course, Satan doesn’t care about any person. He may prosper some when it suits his agenda but would happily destroy anyone.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Pet 5:8)

Evidence is that this was not destructive fire from God just as in the first case, the story of Job. If it was it would be inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about God’s character.

David’s Offering at Ornan’s Threshing Floor

“And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.” (1 Chron 21:26)

Only David’s offering was consumed, no one was hurt by this fire. The fire signaled God’s acceptance of David’s offering and repentance and saved Israel from a pestilence.

“And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.” (1 Chron 21:27)

An earlier verse does say that God sent the pestilence:

“So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.” (1 Chron 21:14)

However, note that “sent” is from the Hebrew “nathan” (H5414) which is often used in the permissive sense.

“And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (1 Chron 21:15)

In this case, “sent” is from another Hebrew word “shalach” (H7971) which is also commonly used in the permissive sense.

The fire that came upon David’s altar would be similar to that at the consecration of the tabernacle – signaling acceptance, not so much of the offering but of the state of the heart.

Solomon’s Temple Dedication

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.” (2 Chron 7:1)

Solomon was able, with God’s help, to build the temple that his father David had longed to do.  In the ceremony of dedication, a large number of animals were sacrificed:

“Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.” (2 Chron 5:6)

Solomon prayed for God’s blessing and then the fire came down. One could wonder how God could approve of so many sacrifices when the Bible says:

“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” (Psa 40:6)

The answer is that God is more concerned about the state of the heart than mere ceremony:

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

See more about sacrifices and God’s attitude toward them at these links:

This fire from heaven was signaling God’s approval of Solomon’s offering for the dedication of the temple.

Fire From God: Elijah on Mt. Carmel

“Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”  (1 Kings 18:37-38)

This was at a very decisive moment in Israel’s history. The challenge had been given by Elijah:

“And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.” (1 Kings 18:24)

God did answer by fire giving evidence that He was indeed God. This led to the people acknowledging God:

“And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:39)

And it could have led to a great reformation in Israel but for Elijah’s failure. This was fire from God for the benefit of the people.

Elijah and the Captains of Fifty

“Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. 10 And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 11 Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. 12 And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.” (2 Kings 1:9-12)

This page shows that Elijah was not acting in the interests of God in his reaction to the summons from the king.

Further and very strong evidence from the New Testament shows that Elijah was speaking from a wrong spirit and was not therefore approved by God at that time:

“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” (Luke 9:54-55)

There is no doubt that this could not be a destructive (even murderous) fire from God.

Coals of Fire on Their Heads

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:20)

Here is the definition of the word translated as “heap” in that verse:

H4987 σωρεύω soreuo sore-yoo’-o
from another form of H4673; v
AV-heap 1, lade 1; 2
1) to heap together, to heap up
2) to overwhelm one with a heap of anything
3) metaph. to load one with the consciousness of many sins

“For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,” (2 Tim 3:6)

The theme of Romans 12:20 is helping your enemy. Here is an interesting explanation:

“In Bible times (and in many places still today) people carried things balanced on their heads. If the fire in your house went out you would not be able to cook or keep the house warm. You would have to get some hot coals from a friend and carry them back to your house in a pail on your head. To heap coals of fire on someone’s head meant to give them the life-sustaining fire they needed to survive.” (

Coals of fire was a good thing in this example. Coals of fire awakening the conscience is also good as it points to the need for repentance

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” (Rom 5:20)

This could be understood as:

“Moreover the law entered our consciousness, our mind that awareness of the offence might abound. But where awareness of sin abounded (in our minds), knowledge of the need for and, hopefully, acceptance of grace did much more abound:” (Rom 5:20)

“Fire” understood in this way is certainly of benefit and not destructive.

Fire at Pentecost

“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2:3)

Fire is often used in scripture in symbolic ways:

“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:” (Matt 3:11)

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” (Luke 12:49)

This is similar to:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt 10:34)

Jesus was not talking about literal fire or a literal sword. It was more a description of the effect He would have on the people of earth.

“From above hath He sent fire into my bones …” (Lam 1:13)

Fire” is a common poetic metaphor for intense feeling or passion. English also uses bones to signify depth of feeling:

·        bone deep
·        I can feel it in my bones
·         cut to the bone.

The fire at Pentecost was not at all destructive but, rather, of great benefit because it came with the blessing of the Holy Spirit to empower them in their witness for Christ.

Fire Coming Soon

Fire certainly gets people’s attention. Most people do not grasp the issues related to understanding of the character of God or that it is leading to the final crisis and the end of the world. Things will suddenly change and it may be initiated by some rather dramatic events. There is one very interesting possibility concerning Nashville, Tennessee:

Such an event would result in that shift to the right, to conservatism, to law enforcement even in the name of God. “We have to get back to God and anyone hindering that has to be dealt with for the protection of society.” Have we not been conditioned for such an attitude?

See the recent study The Character of God, the Law of God and the End of the World at or view the video group study.

It would certainly suit Satan’s purpose for such a shift that he can enforce his system and finally pull off a false Second Coming (2 Thess 2:4, Isa 14:14)). Those who believe God would send fire from heaven to kill and destroy will accept Satan’s methods of coercion and force.

So, this fire will be from God’s enemy and will be very deceptive and destructive.

Fire From God in the Trumpets

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” (Rev 8:7)

It might seem very obvious that the destruction described in the trumpets starting in Revelation chapter 8 are from God but it doesn’t state the origin of the disasters. What it does state is something about the order of events.

  1. The first angel, given a message/trumpet from God (Rev 8:2), sounds his message.

This is followed by:

  1. “… hail and fire mingled with blood …” (Rev 8:7)

The disaster comes after the message but not necessarily from the same source. Doesn’t it make sense that Satan would do whatever he could to cause a distraction by sending a disaster. Satan is the destroyer, not God.

This destructive fire will not be from God.

Revelation’s Lake of Fire

“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Rev 20:9)

“There came down fire out of the heaven (the words ‘from God’ are of doubtful authority) and devoured them.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Here is an example from one of many modern Bibles which omits the words “from God”:

“And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” (Rev 20:9, New American Standard Bible)

The fire of Revelation 20:9 is said to “devour” the lost, which sounds like physical destruction. But one of the definitions for the original word (“katesthio” Strong’s G2719) is:

“of the consumption of the strength of body and mind by strong emotions

Here are some other uses of the same word:

“And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” (John 2:17)

“But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” (Gal 5:15)

There is another verse we should consider about the lost and the Lake of Fire:

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15)

This is not fire cast down on a person but the person being put into a situation described as a lake of fire.”

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8)

lake of fire

It is called the Lake of Fire because there, every person who has ever lived will experience the full revelation of God’s love (symbolized by fire) and all His actions so that they may see (and they will acknowledge) that God has been just in all His ways including how he has dealt with them individually.

“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom 14:11)

See more details of this process in my study here.

I will just share this diagram from that study (available as an e-book or printed booklet):

Hebrew for man

Those who have made their final choice to be separate from God will find that God (the only source of life) will honor their free will. Their expulsion of God from their lives along with the guilt and shame from their lifetimes of sin coming from within themselves (their conscience) will consume with so much grief that it will end their lives. This is similar to the Bible’s description of the end of Satan:

“Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” (Eze 28:18)

God will bring about the final judgment scene but the destructive (mental) fire will come from within each person.

The Final Physical Cleansing

After all the wicked have died of their own unhealed condition, a literal, cleansing fire comes to burn up the corpses and melt the elements with fervent heat making ready for a new earth.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:10,12)

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Rev 21:1)

I have referred to this as a cleansing fire from God that does not harm anyone as they are already dead. Another possibility is that the fire is a reaction of the earth itself to the strong emotions of many millions of the lost. See this page about how man sins have an effect on the earth itself. In that case, it would be classed not as an act of God but as a fire resulting, ultimately, from evil itself that will destroy all traces of sin.

Fire in Heaven

Surprisingly, the final fire which people will be exposed to from God will actually be in heaven and will last forever:

“… Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;” (Isa 33:14-15)

There are two possible ways to understand this. It could be a reference to being in God’s presence in heaven as in:

“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” (Eze 28:14)

God’s love is likened to a fire, of course, not literal, destructive fire.

Also, fire is used as a symbol of God’s love which all the saved will bask in for eternity wherever they are.

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.” (Song Sol 8:6-7)

That verse is likening love to fire. The Berean Standard Bible and other versions point to jealousy being an attribute of love (“its sparks” referring to love) which is really the topic of the passage as shown by verse 7.

“Set me as a seal over your heart, as a seal upon your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as unrelenting as Sheol. Its sparks are fiery flames, the fiercest blaze of all.” (Song Sol 8:6, Berean Standard Bible)

Even in this life, those who understand and appreciate the incredible love of God can sense that warmth.

This is certainly not talking about destructive fire from God.

Fire From God: Summary

There are no cases of literal, destructive fire coming from God in heaven in the Bible. See more on the Biblical definition of fire.

Below is a list of all the points examined, listing from where each case of “fire from heaven” originated.

From God From Satan
Sodom and Gomorrah
Nadab and Abihu
Korah’s rebellion
The captains of 50
Nashville fire (future)
Trumpets of Revelation 8
Physical cleansing fire
David’s offering (Ornan’s)
Solomon’s temple dedication
Elijah at Mt. Carmel
Coals of fire on head
Lake of fire
Fire in heaven

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