Both the Old and New Testaments use a variety of symbols, such as water, wind, and oil, to describe the work of the Holy Spirit.
There are many who have misunderstood John’s statement. The passage does not say, “‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit or with fire’” (NKJV) . It says, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” The second expression, “‘and with fire,’” explains the first expression, “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of fire. The word baptism in the New Testament is used 80 times and refers to total immersion.
The symbolism of fire is a symbol of the glory, presence, and power of God manifest in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. To be baptized with fire is to be immersed in the glory of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in order to witness in His power. Moses met God at the burning bush and then left the glory of His presence in order to witness to Pharaoh. Elijah witnessed to Israel in the glory of God’s fiery presence on Mount Carmel. When tongues of fire fell on Pentecost, the disciples witnessed in languages that they had never before known. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is immersion in the presence and power of God in order that we can effectively witness of His glory. Once again, in the last days of earth’s history, God’s people will be immersed in His presence, filled with His power, and sent out to witness of His glory to the world.
The earth will be filled with the glory of God. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14, NKJV). In prophetic vision, John saw an angel messenger descend from heaven and “the earth was illuminated with his glory” (Rev. 18:1, NKJV).
God’s glory, His loving character, will be revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit to a waiting world and a watching universe. Every person on planet Earth will have the opportunity to both hear and understand God’s last-day message.
God’s glory, His loving character, will be revealed to the world. How can you, right now, in your own sphere, reveal that glory in your life? What will that require on your part?