Bible scholars typically associate the "fire" in the Baptism of Fire with actual fires of future judgement. Dr. John Walvoord writes: "The baptism with fire seems related to the second coming of Christ, for only then will the wheat and the tares be separated and the tares, like the chaff mentioned by John the Baptist, burned with fire" (John Walvoord, Matthew, Thy Kingdom Come, page 32).

We disagree. At the risk being accused of spiritualizing Scripture, we offer good reasons to believe that the Baptism of Fire was not a fire of judgment, but a symbolic fire, not to destroy, as in judgment, but to refine and purify. Malachi prophesied of this Baptism of fire.

v1"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts." v2 "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap": v3 "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness."

Also, we have good reason to believe that this is not a future event, because of the words of Christ, spoken shortly before His crucifixion, when He prophesied of the war between Israel and Rome in AD70, which was about forty years away. LUKE 21: v22 "For these be the days of vengeance, that all tings which are written may be fulfilled."

"All things which are written" meant that at the time Jesus spoke, the Old Testament had been written. So all Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the end of that war. This is contrary to the belief of many Bible scholars today, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the truth. He must always have the last say in all things. Even though some of His sayings may be hard to grasp, we will always do better to give Him the benefit of the doubt.

Malachi was an Old Testament prophet. He prophesied of two messengers. The first was, obviously, John the Baptist, who came to prepare the way for the second Messenger, Jesus Christ, who appeared suddenly, "out of the blue," so to speak, as John was baptizing. John the Baptist preached a Baptism of Fire at that very beginning of Christ's ministry:

LUKE 3: v16 "John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire":

John said that "He shall baptize you," and there is no reason to think that he was referring to some remote generation of Jews thousands of years in the future. The prophet Malachi asks the rhetorical question: "But who may abide the day of his coming?" (To make this "day of His coming" a future Second Coming after thousands of years is far too much of a stretch.) And to make this "fire" a fire of judgment ignores verse 3, where the purpose is to purify "the sons of Levi." Malachi, like most of the Old Testament prophets except Daniel, no doubt, had not been given the disheartening news of Israel's coming apostasy and national annihilation, and the end of the Old System of worship. So he foresaw a regeneration of the nation, the priesthood of Levi, and restoration of the Mosaic System of worship. But God had other plans.

The story of the beginning of the end of the Jewish system can be found in Romans 11: v32 "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." That is the KJV rendering. Modern translations, such as the NIV, are lauded far and wide as being improvements over the KJV, but a closer look reveals a serious logical incongruity in these verses which defies all attempts at a reasonable interpretation. Paul writes to the Romans:

v30 "Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience," v31 "so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you". v32 "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all."

It should be noted that Paul is writing to the Roman Gentiles, so "they, them, them all," are Jews, while "you" are Gentiles. Many modern translations obscure that distinction, so that in this passage "all men" means "all men everywhere." That's wrong. Follow the NIV train of thought, and see if you can understand this verse. If you can, you may have a problem! v 30 "Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience..." Think about it for a moment. How can one group receive mercy just because another group becomes disobedient? Modern translators got only one word wrong, and botched the whole passage. That word should be unbelief, not disobedient. There is a difference. Continuing in verse 30: v30 "So they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you." Reading this verse, one must conclude that the Jews couldn't receive mercy until they became disobedient. That translation is ridiculous, and falls short of being any improvement over the KJV.

In the King James Bible, the word is not "disobedience," it is "unbelief." It is the condition that is outside the Family of God, a condition which all Gentiles are born in, long before they are old enough and capable of becoming disobedient. The AV translation of this verse perfectly matches the context, thus we know that "them all" whom God concluded in unbelief were not "all men everywhere," but Israelites, those special people of God

who were, even from physical birth, "saved" so to speak; they were born into the Family of God. They were people of God. So now we see a new plan of God unfolding. Old Israel has had its "turn at bat," and failed, so now she must give way to another nation, a nation bearing the fruits thereof.

Hosea 2:23 "And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." Paul recalls the prophecy: Romans 9:25 "As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved." Romans 9:26 "And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."

The place, by the way, was Zion, or Jerusalem. The time would be at the end of the Baptism of Fire. Those who endured to the end would be called the children of God but not all the people made it. Some could not be reformed from the wickedness that had been their lifestyle for many years in the land of Judaea. Evil had taken root in the nation, and now the country was overspread with abominations. God could no more depend on them to carry the message of His mercies to the world. The times of Israel would, therefore, come to an end. But Jews had a sort of "birthright"; being born 'not a sinner' was intrinsic to the Jew. God wanted all men everywhere to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. But Jews, being in a state of rebellion, were a hindrance. So how was God to fix that? (The answer is found in Romans 11:32) Paul marvelled at the solution to this problem which could come only by the unfathomable wisdom of God (see Romans 11:33). God took away the exalted status of the Jew, and made him an "unbeliever," a person lost, just like the Gentile.

Not that God cast away His people, which He foreknew. Though He disowned them, at the same time He provided an easy way for all to come back into His Family. But only through faith in Jesus Christ; henceforth there would be no other way, as there had been in the past. This would be a new world, and God was starting it with a "clean slate."

And that was also the only way the Gentiles could come to Him. So God "dissolved" the Jewish System to open the way of salvation to all men everywhere. He didn't have mercy on Gentiles because of the disobedience of Jews, and He didn't have mercy on Jews because of the disobedience of Gentiles. Modern translations are largely responsible for that confusion. Also, many think that Jews were blinded to make it harder for them to be saved, and thereby easier for Gentiles to be saved. But how on God's green earth is that supposed to work, in view of the fact that God is our Saviour, who will "...have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4) It's nonsense. Sometimes modern, super-intellectual logic is beyond average understanding! Read the Scriptures again, carefully; Jews were not blinded to make salvation harder for Jews and easier for Gentiles. There was a definite reason some Jews were blinded But that's another story.

So Jews once had spiritual life, but now were concluded in unbelief, and became spiritually dead. When they accepted Christ, they were "born again." Christ is a Quickening Spirit. We Gentiles have latched onto that term, "born again," and applied it to our own salvation, but it's not biblically correct. While no real harm is done, it shows that we have not been reading our Bibles carefully enough for many years. The term, "born again," belonged only to those first century Jews who were "spiritually killed" as it were, then reborn when they accepted Christ. We, Gentiles, were spiritually dead from the beginning. When we accept Christ as Saviour, we are born spiritually for the first time, we are not "born again." But as I say, it's no big deal.

So where does the "Baptism of Fire" come into play? By the simple fact that, when a Jew in those days professed faith in Jesus Christ, it didn't necessarily mean that he was saved. It was only the first step to salvation. John 1: v11 "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." v12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name": v13 "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Notice that they who received Him didn't immediately become the sons of God, Christ only gave them power to become sons of God. They would have to endure a time of testing to prove their faith. (Notice how the Bible emphasizes in verse 3 that this birth, by which they would be empowered to become the sons of God, would not be the natural, physical, birth, which had been the case with all Israelites before. This would be spiritual rebirth. The Jews had been concluded in unbelief some time before Christ came. Now that they professed faith in Jesus Christ, they would have to prove it. There would be rough times ahead.

I am going to guess that the time of their trial began about the day of Pentecost. It would be a time of tribulation which all believers would have to endure to the end, which end came about immediately before another tribulation, a much more severe one, began. The fires of this second tribulation were real; this was the day of vengeance of God upon the unbelieving wicked people of Israel, those who didn't pass the test of the first tribulation, who fell away, and were proven false.

This sounds like a cliche, but if we let Scriptures interpret themselves or rather if we interpret Scriptures as recommended in Scriptures, then all the Bible seems to fall into place. Here is how the Holy Spirit teaches us:

Isaiah 28: v9 "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." v10 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little": v11 "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people." v12 "To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." v13 "But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken."

Although this prophecy was specifically referring to Jesus speaking to the Jews in parables, it is about the best set of instructions for learning the Bible as I have ever seen. Don't bother with Greek, or Hebrew, and don't waste time listening to anyone who quotes Greek or Hebrew when teaching Scripture. All they are doing is translating again, trying to "re-invent the wheel," as it where. That's already been taken care of in the past by men dedicated to that task, and the AV translators did it better than anyone else. So, with a King James Bible, and a good English dictionary(if you think you need one) you will be well equipped to figure out virtually any prophecy of the Bible. Bits and pieces of many topics are to be found here and there in the Bible. All we have to do is find them, and put them all together.

Did you know that Revelation tells us when Satan was kicked out of heaven, never more to come back? It wasn't in the "dateless past," as proposed by C.I. Scofield. You will find it in chapter 12. Chapter 12, by the way, is not an event which is supposed to happen during that future fictitious "Great Tribulation." It is a parenthesis, a stand-alone capsule history of Israel, very abbreviated, but full of pertinent information for the Bible student. It covers the beginning of the nation of Israel, up to a few years before AD70. When the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he was madder'n a wet hen, and persecuted the woman which brought forth the Man Child, which was Israel(verse 13). Verse 17 says, "and the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." That remnant were those first century followers of Christ, and that "war," believe or not, was the Baptism of Fire. They had to endure years of Satan's (limited) attacks upon their new faith, and attempts to lure them away from Christ, and back into the old ways of worship and belief, which now were, of course, made obsolete by Christ's final and ultimate sacrifice on the cross. (Churches ought to be aware that Satan has not given up on his scheme to drag believers away from faith in Christ, and into anything contrary. In the past few years there has been a growing movement among some churches to find the "Jewish roots of Christianity." That is a dangerous game some Liberal thinking church leaders are playing. Christianity exists because of the final unbelief and rebellion of Israel. There are no "Jewish roots.")

Revelation 12:7-8 tells us that "...there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven." The dragon went bye-bye, and he wasn't comin' back! Verse 10 speaks of a loud voice saying in heaven, "...Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." So Satan was cast out of heaven at about the same time that salvation came to the people of Israel. Salvation came at the cross, Christ received power the day of His resurrection (Romans 1:4), and the kingdom of God also was set up (Matthew 16:28).

A proper view of Scripture makes some difficult verses completely plausible; The Lord Jesus Christ said, "He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13). If you endorse the "once saved always saved," theology, and follow futurism, you might be tempted to force a physical "rescue out of the Tribulation" upon this verse. But there is no need. The Bible is perfectly logical saying what it says. Christ had the Baptism of Fire in mind, the time was the first century AD, and soul salvation of Jews was the subject. His people would have to endure Satan's attacks, and "the end" would be the end of the "first tribulation," the Baptism of Fire. They who endured to the end had their salvation assured.

The letters to the seven churches provide supporting Scriptures. For example, in the letter to the church at Ephesus, John writes, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7). That is definitely soul salvation talk. And compare what Christ says to the church at Smyrna: the overcomers received a crown of life; in the church at Pergamos: the overcomers would eat of the hidden manna; in the church at Thyatira: "he that overometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations"; in the church at Sardis: Christ did not blot out the name of the overcomer out of the Book of Life; in the church at Philadelphia; the overcomer would become a pillar in the temple of God; in the church at Laodicea: the overcomers would sit with Christ in His throne. (Notice, He said IN His throne, not ON His throne, as in some modern translations. There is a difference. "In His throne" means the same as on a throne in His throne room. No one sits with Christ ON His throne. Everyone in the throne room sits with Christ, but each sits on his own throne. It appears that some modern translators didn't understand this subtle difference.)

Hebrews 9:28 "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."

Is this that future "Second Coming" we hear about so much? Consider this verse: "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." But now, notice carefully: "...and unto them that look for Him shall he appear THE SECOND TIME without sin unto salvation." If that is the future "Second Coming," which is to happen after thousands of years, how could Christ appear to those people then the second time when they didn't see Him appear the first time? If He was going to appear to anyone the second time, it stands to reason that he must have appeared to them the first time. That generation of Jews, therefore, which saw Him the first time, when He walked among them, doing miracles and other good things, would see Him the second time, when He came without sin unto salvation some forty years later. That would be the time of their salvation, the end of the Baptism of Fire. It was also be a time of mourning for some, because those same people who pierced Him were alive to see Him returning. If they never had any intention of repenting, it was not a happy reunion.

Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"

Eternal salvation does not necessarily belong to them that merely believe in Him, but to them that also obey Him. Understanding the fact that Jews in that day were going through a time of trial and testing, and would have to endure to the end, makes the following verses easy to understand. None of this has anything to do with us now.

Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Romans 13:11 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."

Luke 21:28 "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

As the forty years, from Pentecost to the Roman holocaust were coming to an end, salvation and redemption would soon be a reality to those Jews.

Isaiah was told to darken the understanding of certain people. What people?

v9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. v10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. v11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, v12 And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. v13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

This is a description of the holocaust of AD70. It is unlike any other catastrophe that befell Jerusalem. Some Bible scholars may try to tell you that this happened hundreds of years before, when the Babylonians destroyed the city. That is mere conjecture. Jerusalem had been sacked numerous times before, but this time it was different; this time the rebellious Jews who perished were blinded. Never before was there the same kind of spiritual blindness among the people, as there was in AD70.

Verse 5 of Isaiah 6 tells us, " Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Apparently most of Israel was not a pure nation even in the days if Isaiah. Only a remnant, only about a tenth, were true to God. The rest remained obstinate, and were eventually blinded. But they were blinded for final destruction, they were not blinded to make salvation easier for the Gentiles. That is a carelessly derived idea put forth by some Bible scholars, who seem only to skim the pages of their Bible.

Daniel prophesied of the "time of the end," and of the Baptism of Fire, although not in so many words: "And some of them of understanding shall fall (Romans 11:32), to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed" (Dan. 11:35). Daniel was prophesying of a period of purging which the Bible later refers to as the "Baptism of Fire." When Jesus first came to His people, many rejected Him. But those who received Him would go through a time of testing, a "minor tribulation." This tribulation may have begun at Pentecost, and lasted until the Day of Vengeance of God, about the time of Great Tribulation, when Rome invaded and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

Certain prophecy scholars tell us that the "time of the end" leaps forward from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes to the time of that future Antichrist. But that idea seems quite arbitrarily concieved. Daniel says nothing about the Antichrist. And he says nothing about a "forward leap" of 2000 or more years, although he does look forward several hundred years to the time of Christ. That is what is referred to in the Bible as the "time of the end." We know that central to the prophecies of Daniel were his people, Israel. The predicted time of Christ, who would bring salvation to his people and his nation, would have been the most important event in the mind of any faithful Jew in Daniel's day. It only seems logical that his thoughts would have been focused on that time, and his writings would refer to this near "time of the end" of his nation, Israel, before venturing out into some far distant unknown time which would have more to do with Gentiles than Jews.

The proof that none of Daniel's prophecies extended beyond AD70, which occurred 2000 years ago, is seen in Christ's statement in Luke 21:22, only days before He went to the cross. He prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which was to happen before AD70, and said, "For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." The days of vengeance, came about AD70. It is also well known that on the day He said this, only the Old Testament had been written. So, ignoring any future prophecies made in the New Testament, neither Daniel, nor Isaiah, nor Jeremiah, nor any other Old Testament prophet, had written anything that would happen AFTER AD70.

Sometimes certain prophecy experts who have been indoctrinated into a particular futuristic belief, tend to ignore the full meaning of Luke 21:22, but there it is, spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, and in no way can it honestly be ignored. Daniel would not make a "forward leap" beyond the time of Christ, and the Christ's words preclude him making a "forward leap" past AD70. So, the "time of the end" in Daniel pointed to some period of time before the end of the war between Israel and Rome in AD70.

The "time of the end" is an expression which is the same as "these last days." In Hebrews we read, "God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2);

This tells us that the Son of God visited His people in the last days, or in the "time of the end." John the Baptist arrived on the scene preaching and baptizing shortly before Christ came. "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: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" "Matthew 3:11-12). Here the Scripture says that Christ would "throughly purge His floor," which was a way of saying that He would sift through His people to see who are His faithful followers, and gather them up for Himself, but He would burn up the chaff (the wicked unbelievers of Israel) with unquenchable fire (some biblical terms would seem to indicate something more in our minds than what the writers intended, for example "unquenchable fire." That may not necessarily mean eternal "hell fire." This fire may have been unquenchable from the perspective of those caught up in it, the Jews trapped in the city during the Roman invasion. They would have no ability to quench this fire).

Was this going to happen two, or three, or four thousand years later? Why would God come to earth for the stated purpose of redeeming His people, and suddenly put it all on hold for several thousands of years before returning to redeem a distant generation, and to judge a people who had nothing to do with rejecting and crucifying Him?

Daniel says that some of them (Israelites) would fall, and be tried, and purged, and be made white, even to the time of the end. That sounds as though they would go through some trying times, and be made white, which points to the Baptism of Fire.

Revelation 7:9 "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands"; Revelation 7:13 "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" Revelation 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Daniel 12:4 "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Daniel was to seal the book, meaning that no one would be able to understand what was in the book. Some say that the "time of the end" will be the future end of the world, and the book of Daniel will be sealed up until then. That is rather comical, when we see that scholars of the same persuasion have written scores of commentaries, telling us, verse by verse, everything we need to know of the book of Daniel. As we might expect, some tell us that Daniel can now be "partially known," because we are nearing the time of the end, but will be "fully opened up to us" at the time of the end, namely the "Great Tribulation."

It apparently has not occurred to many of these scholars that 2000 years ago, in the time of the end of Israel, Jesus quoted from the book of Daniel, and evangelists traveled, to and fro, by foot and otherwise, all over the Roman world. And knowledge surely increased knowledge of the Gospel of Salvation. I doubt that the prophets were overly concerned about computers, and transistors, and electronics, and other things which we consider "knowledge.". Mark 13:14 "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:" So Jesus opened up the book of Daniel when He visited His people on earth 2000 years ago. The writer of Hebrews says that the Son of God spoke to the Israelites in the "last days." The "time of the end" and the "last days" were one and the same. Some Bible teachers think that these terms refer to the future last days of the world. But that is a giant leap into the future with no biblical support whatsoever.

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds"; (Heb. 1:1-2)

Daniel 8:19 "And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be." It is widely preached that the "indignation" will be the future "Great Tribulation." But that "Great Tribulation" is a concoction of Dispensationalists. A much more likely candidate for "indignation" was the 490 years, the "dark period" between the Old Testament and the New.

Zechariah 1:12 "Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?" What began as an indignation of seventy years was expanded by God to 490 years. It was appointed by God that in the last seven years of these 490 years (the last end of the indignation) the Son of God would visit His people, confirm His Father's covenant with many in Israel, set up the Kingdom of God, establish Israel as the topmost spiritual nation in the world, and do many other things for His people. Much of that didn't happen, because His people rejected Him. God's vengeance came upon Israel forty years later when Rome destroyed the temple and the city. The Bible says nothing about a future indignation, or a future "Great Tribulation."