Fire occupies a unique place in nature. It is not matter itself, but it involves the reaction of different types of matter to generate energy in the form of heat and light. It can be an agent of destruction, especially when uncontrolled, but it also serves many beneficial functions.
In early geological history, fires started by lightning strikes and volcanic eruptions shaped the Earth and helped prepare the environment for habitation by a huge diversity of life forms. In that sense, one might conceive of fire as an instrument by which the Creator prepared a dwelling place for humanity and other forms of life.
Of all the species on Earth, humans have the unique ability to control fire and use it for beneficial purposes. Based on this ability, fire has played an enormous role in the development of human civilization. Human scientific and technological advances, as well as everyday lives, depend on the controlled use of fire. Thus fire is an important tool by which people can take responsibility to fulfill our God-given blessing of having dominion—or stewardship—over the creation and creating a pleasant living environment. In Unificationist terms, this would correspond to fulfilling the Third Blessing.
Unfortunately, people have also used fire for deliberate acts of violence and destruction, as in cases of arson and warfare. These actions, which spread fear, grief, hatred, and enmity, have led to deep divisions within humanity. On a deeper level, they are indications of humanity's separation from God’s divine love and its failure to cultivate that love within themselves. In religious terms, this separation originated with the human Fall away from God.
At the same time, many have been using fire in their efforts to elevate their inner spiritual life. For instance, candles and oil lamps are often used in places of meditation and prayer. Just as light dispels darkness, the light of a flame has been taken as a metaphor for goodness that dispels the darkness of evil. In addition, the heat and light of fire may be seen as metaphors for God's love and truth, and the upward movement of the flame may be seen as pointing toward a higher realm. In this manner, the use and symbolism of fire have contributed toward reconnecting people to their divine Creator. Here, the Unificationist terminology is to fulfill the First Blessing, according to which each individual needs to go through a period of spiritual growth and ultimately achieve complete harmony with God's divinity and become a "temple" in which that divinity dwells.
Christians regard fire as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, but they also point to biblical verses that speak about the "Last Days" when the world will be judged by fire (II Peter 3:12; Malachi 4:1). Jesus is recorded as saying that he came to "cast fire upon the earth" (Luke 12:49). The Divine Principle maintains that these words about judgment by fire are to be taken symbolically, not literally. Noting that the prophet Jeremiah likened fire to God's word (Jeremiah 23:29), the Principle offers the interpretation that "judgment by fire" is a metaphor for judgment by God's truth.