- For sacred purposes. The sacrifices were consumed by fire (Gen. 8:20). The ever-burning fire on the altar was first kindled from heaven (Lev. 6:9, 13, 9:24), and afterwards rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's temple (2 Chr. 7:1, 3). The expressions "fire from heaven" and "fire of the Lord" generally denote lightning, but sometimes also the fire of the altar was so called (Ex. 29:18; Lev. 1:9, 2:3, 3:5, 9).
Fire for a sacred purpose obtained otherwise than from the altar was called "strange fire" (Lev. 10:1,2; Num. 3:4).
The victims slain for sin offerings were afterwards consumed by fire outside the camp (Lev. 4:12, 21, 6:30, 16:27; Heb. 13:11).
- For domestic purposes, such as baking, cooking, warmth, etc. (Jer. 36:22; Mk. 14:54; Jn. 18:18). But on Sabbath no fire for any domestic purpose was to be kindled (Ex. 35:3; Num. 15:32-36).
- Punishment of death by fire was inflicted on such as were guilty of certain forms of unchastity and incest (Lev. 20:14, 21:9). The burning of captives in war was not unknown among the Jews (2 Sam. 12:31; Jer. 29:22). The bodies of infamous persons who were executed were also sometimes burned (Josh. 7:25; 2 Ki. 23:16).
- In war, fire was used in the destruction of cities, as Jericho (Josh. 6:24), Ai (8:19), Hazor (11:11), Laish (Judg. 18:27), etc. The war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt (Josh. 11:6, 9, 13). The Israelites burned the images (2 Ki. 10:26; R.V., "pillars") of the house of Baal. These objects of worship seem to have been of the nature of obelisks, and were sometimes evidently made of wood.
Torches were sometimes carried by the soldiers in battle (Judg. 7:16).
- Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power (Ex. 14:19; Num. 11:1, 3; Judg. 13:20; 1 Ki. 18:38; 2 Ki. 1:10, 12, 2:11; Isa. 6:4; Ezek. 1:4; Rev. 1:14, etc.).
God's word is also likened unto fire (Jer. 23:29). It is referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes (Zech. 12:6; Lk. 12:49; 1 Cor. 3:13, 15; 1 Pet. 1:7), and of eternal punishment (Mt. 5:22; Mk. 9:44; Rev. 14:10, 21:8).
The influence of the Holy Ghost is likened unto fire (Mt. 3:11). His descent was denoted by the appearance of tongues as of fire (Acts 2:3).