Dream symbols: Fire – and what it means

The biblical symbolism of fire in dreams, what that means in practice, with real dream examples.

Have you ever wondered what fire means as a dream symbol?

In this article we will take inspiration from the bible to investigate the spiritual meaning of fire in dreams, and what that means for us in practical terms.

We will explore its meaning in positive and negative contexts, with some real dream examples too!

I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.

The symbolic nature of dreams

Firstly, if you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language and my 3-step dream interpretation method to give you a foundation.

Secondly, remember that dreams are personal, so the meanings that I suggest may not apply to your specific dream. But please feel free to use my ideas as a springboard to thinking and praying about dreams yourself. Don’t take my ideas as gospel, but rather let them help you start to think metaphorically.

pictures of a fire station sign, a red candle with hearts, a  modren fireplace, a fire pit in the garden

Introducing fire

Fire is one of the most powerful forces of nature. We have all witnessed news scenes of the devastating and terrifying destructive power of out-of-control fires.

But the ability to control of fire is also one of the most significant historic achievements of mankind. Fire provides light and heat, so, with fire, mankind could continue to operate after dark and during colder months; fire could be used for cooking, and forging tools and other implements.

Fire is interesting in dreams because it can be very strongly positive or negative. Whichever it is, it usually creates an impression! The context of the dream (i.e. the surrounding action) is vital to determine which it is. In this article we will consider potential positive and negative meanings of fire.

More about positive and negative contexts…

Fire in the bible

The bible is full of imagery and can help us understand dream symbols. As a baseline, I carried out a search for ‘fire’ in the bible, and the following is what I found. Fire could be used in dreams to represent any of these concepts:

Fire as the presence of God

In the bible, God often appeared in the form of fire. There are many examples of this in the Old Testament, for example Moses and the burning bush. Here are a few more:

  • Exodus 13:21, NASB And the Lord was going before them… in a pillar of fire by night…
  • Exodus 24:17, NASB …the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:1, NASB …fire came down from heaven …and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
  • Daniel 7:10, NASB A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him…

The Israelites had to keep a fire burning continuously on the altar as a reminder of God’s power and presence, as described in Leviticus 6:13.

There are similar references in the New Testament: Jesus is described in Revelation 19:12 as having eyes like flaming fire, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was in the form of tongues of fire:

Angels and other heavenly beings, as representatives of God, are sometimes described in a similar way:

Fire as an unstoppable force

In nature, along with water, fire is one of the most powerful forces there is; when in full force it is un stoppable! For that reason, it can be used to metaphorically represent anything that is unstoppable – whether that is a positive force or something devastating!

It could be God Himself, as already discussed, because He is powerful – or it could be something else. Like a fire, these things cannot be ‘put out’, and nothing can stop their path. Here are some examples:

God’s words are powerful and unstoppable like fire:

Gossip and other talk can spread like fire:

  • Proverbs 26:20-21, NASB For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no gossiper, quarreling quiets down. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious person to kindle strife.
  • James 3:5, NASB So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

An invading army can be like fire spreading, destroying everything in its path.

Fire as powerful emotions

Strong emotions are sometimes described as being heated or fiery. Sometimes we talk about burning with passion. This can be a positive or negative thing, depending on the context.

Just like fire, our emotions can cause us to become out of control and cause damage, for example when anger takes over in a negative way. Conversely, love, passion and zeal can be powerful motivators for us to act for good.

Here are some examples from the bible:

LoveSong of Solomon 8:6, NASB  For love is as strong as death… Its flames are flames of fire…
ZealPsalm 119:139, NASB My zeal has consumed me…  
JealousyPsalm 79:5, NASB  Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
AngerHosea 7:6, NASB  Their anger smolders all night, In the morning it burns like flaming fire.

Fire for refining, testing, and purification

Fire can be used for refining and purifying metals, and this can be symbolic of the transforming and refining work that goes on in us – as a normal part of the Christian life. A furnace is used for refining metal, but the bible tells us that God Himself is the consuming fire that refines people!

  • Proverbs 17:3, NASB The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests hearts.

Going through difficult times (or trials) can also be described as going through fire. In fact, the difficult times themselves can also be part of the refining (or testing) process. God uses them to purify us, cleanse us, and transform us into the people we were designed to be!

  • Psalm 66:12, NASB  We went through fire… Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:13, NASB …the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work.
  • 1 Peter 1:7, NASB …so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold… though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor…

Fire is also very good for cleansing (and sterilisation), as all infection and impurities are burnt up by the heat.

  • Numbers 31:23, NASB …everything that can withstand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it will be clean.

This can be used symbolically to describe a similar cleansing and purification process in our lives.

There is a sense of judgment – and that which is not good will be removed by the fire.

Positive meaning of fire in dreams

As a lifelong follower of Jesus Christ, I have found that fire most commonly represents the presence of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. The context and atmosphere of the dream can help confirm whether the fire is being used in this way.

I would go further, and say that the presence of fire in a dream is a strong indicator that the Holy Spirit is at work in a situation – even when it seems hard to grasp.

This is vital insight for us to have: Difficult times can either be opposition that needs resisting, or the work of God to be co-operated with – and we need to know which is the right response! That is why dreams are so helpful.

For example:

  • It could be that God is removing some wrong thinking or refining our character in some way – and although we will find it hard, it is Him!
  • It could be we are about to go through a difficult time of trial or testing – and we need to know that God is in it!
  • It could be that God is lighting a holy passion in our heart or stirring us to action.
  • If we are trying to put out a fire we might be trying to quench the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Christian circles, fire is often used to describe/symbolise revivals and moves of the Holy Spirit (like at that first Pentecost!).

Also look for words in dreams associated with fire, such as fire station, fireworks and fire engine.

Real dream examples:

DREAMINTERPRETATIONEXPLANATION
I dreamed I was in a small house covered in fireworks. I got out just before it went up in a spectacular inferno.God was preparing me that He was about to take down an area of wrong thinking in my life. I know because this did happen a while later.The house represented an area of my life. The fireworks indicated that this would be the ‘work’ of the Holy Spirit.
I dreamed I saw a big tower catch fire, fall and crumble.This was the same meaning as the dream above.The tower represented the same stronghold (wrong thinking).
I dreamed my husband came in and told me He was going to put the fire on.This was preparation that I was about to go through a time of trial or testing, and to embrace the process because it was necessary.A husband can represent Jesus in our dreams.
I dreamed Jesus was personally putting fire in my whole body. Afterwards I was dressed in white.This dream gave insight that Jesus was personally mentoring and purifying me (transforming my character).Being dressed in white is a common indicator of being cleansed.
I dreamed our house was too cold so a fire was lit in one of the rooms.This dream was indicating that God was going to stir me up in an area of my life – so I could recognise it and co-operate.A house often represents our life. Being cold indicated a lack of passion or enthusiasm.
I dreamed I was feebly trying to put out a car fire, but someone came and set the whole car on fire!This dream was alerting me that I was trying to resist (or quench) the Holy Spirit’s work in me – and I should rather go with it!A car is usually about our life journey. The clue to the meaning was in the feeling that the person who set the car alight was good.

Negative meaning of fire in dreams

Depending on the context, the negative meaning of fire could relate to something out of control or destructive. For example:

  • It could be runaway emotions.
  • It could be negative speech or gossip.

In these cases, the dream would normally carry the sense that this fire was bad or needed to be stopped.

Fire can also represent difficult times. We have seen above that sometimes these have a purpose that we need to co-operate with; but at other times the fire is not from God and could be opposition that is attempting to destroy something. The dream action and atmosphere should give clues as to the source of the fire and what our response should be.

Note that, as well as fire, the Holy Spirit can also be symbolised by water – so if we are putting out fires with water it might be that the fire is something negative that needs stopping. Alternatively we might be quenching the Holy Spirit, so the dream context and feeling is everything (see the final dream example in the previous section)!

Real dream examples:

DREAMINTERPRETATIONEXPLANATION
I dreamed I was cooking, and a drop of fat caught fire. It went whooof and blew me out the door, and a fire started raging. As I ran out I thought ‘it’s in higher hands now whether it stops’.At the time I had said something that had inadvertently sparked off a big reaction. This dream was saying I needed to keep quiet now, and trust God to deal with the results.The fire represented the negative reaction to what I had said. The clue was in my reaction and feeling that the fire was bad.
I dreamed I left a candle smoking in a lift and was worried it might explode into flame. I thought I ought to phone security.This dream was advising me to seek God for help about a situation I was feeling angry about, before I exploded!Phoning for help is often about prayer.

Conclusion

We have learnt how fire is a very powerful force and can be used for great good – but also great harm: The context of the dream can help discern which.

In a positive context, fire usually represents the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives – for example in empowering, motivating, refining and cleansing.

In a negative context, fire can be something destructive or out of control, such as gossip or runaway emotions. It can also represent difficult times.

Some closing thoughts:

  • Fire in a dream could represent any number of things. The above ideas should give you a good starting point. 
  • I believe that only God can tell us what fire means in a specific dream, so you could try asking Him!
  • Consider the atmosphere and context of the dream to see whether the fire is being used in a positive or negative sense.
  • In addition to the meanings that I have shared, remember that it could mean something personal or culturally significant to you, that isn’t mentioned here.

And finally… have fun interpreting those fiery dreams! If this article has helped you interpret a dream, please leave a comment!

I hope you have found this article helpful. If you want to know more, do subscribe to my emails below to receive regular dream interpretation tips.

The purpose of this blog is to provide solid biblical foundations for interpreting dreams, change mindsets in the church, and encourage others to make their own dream journey with God. I am primarily a writer and bible teacher – who loves dreams, and I hope you will be inspired to learn to interpret your own dreams.

It is not currently my aim to routinely engage in dream interpretations or provide training, except through writing blog posts. You can read my most up to date position on interpreting dreams here:
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One thought on “Dream symbols: Fire – and what it means

  1. Fascinating that I felt prompted to send you a dream with fire 🔥 in it the day before you posted you blog! Really helpful blog, thank you. Added layers of understanding for me. When/if you have time, I’d be very keen to hear what your understanding of the dream I just sent you is. Thanks, David

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