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Burn, Burning

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BURN, BURNING. The burning, consuming flame of fire flickers through the Bible as a constant symbol as well as an ever-present reality. There are several distinct usages.

1. The burning of the sacrifice (Lev 1-7) was a symbolic way of conveying the sacrifice, and thus the commitment of the sacrificer, to God. As the sacrifice was consumed and the smoke and odor arose to heaven it symbolized the entrance into the divine presence.

2. Burning as a means of judgment was literally carried out both by God and man in history and at the consummation of all things (Lev 10:1, 2; Josh 6:24; 8:28; 1 Cor 3:13). The final judgment of the wicked is a lake of fire (Rev 20:14, 15).

3. God Himself in holiness and eternal might is represented by the burning bush (Exod 3:1-3), the burning coals of Ezekiel’s vision (1:13ff.), and the continually burning lamp of the sanctuary. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).

4. The burning of zeal and passion is familiar (Luke 24:32; John 5:35; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 7:9).

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