2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
If you want a fairly comprehensive list of Bible passages that speak of God as a refining fire you can find them here:
Malachi speaks of Jesus returning to the earth as a refining fire or fullers soap and he asks the question "Who will be able to stand when He comes?"
The "fire" of His presence always has an effect but the effect depends not on God, but on the condition of those in His presence. The fire had no negative effect on the bush or the sanctuary or Moses yet Aaron's sons died. They didn't burn, but they died.
When God's presence/Spirit came upon Jesus there was no "fire" at all. Just a dove. Peace. Why? Because that which is already pure can't be refined. God's Spirit is like a refining fire for our hearts, our character.
Every person is a mix of God's character and Satan's character. We may not like to think of it that way but it's true nonetheless. When Peter stood by that charcoal fire whole Jesus was being crucified and denied with cursing that he even knew him, it was clear which part of his character was coming out.
Heaven will have no divided hearts. No remnants of the curse of sin or the character of Satan will exist there. When God comes into our lives here He comes as the refiners fire.
In that upper room as those 120 gathered and prayed and confessed to each other any angst that existed between them and came to one accord, it seemed like everything was perfect. Yet when God's presence filled the place He came as fire. There was still purifying work to be done. We'll discover as we continue through Acts just how true that is.
Jesus said "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
God's Spirit will lead us through experiences that will lay open the reality of the garbage that remains hidden in our hearts. Pressures and trials will expose dark spots in our character and step by step God will with our consent "burn" them away.
So what happened to the sons of Aaron? Why did they die in His presence? Why did the "fire" "kill" them? When a chunk of gold ore is refined in a furnace only the gold survives the fire. When there is no gold nothing remains. This is why Malachi asks the painful and sobering question "Who will stand (survive) the "fire" when He returns. When everything that is not gold is "burned" away what will remain?
Every day by our choices, our responses to what God is doing in our lives we are either developing more "gold" or the "gold" that was there is eroding away.
When you trace the steps of men like Abraham and Modes it is so obvious that they were not perfect. However it is also obvious that they are being refined and built up to become like Him as they continue on the path He is leading them on. You rest assured God tried over and over to do the same work in the sons of Aaron but they resisted and refused until finally there was no "gold" left and they simply expired.
God is faithful and gentle and relentless. The "fire" will never go out until His work is complete or until there is no "gold" left to work with. The rest is up to us. Will we submit or resist?
Praying that today is a day of submission for all of us.