Smoke in the Bible

Smoke in the Bible: There is evidence that smoking was used as a form of worship in the Bible. In Genesis, when Noah was drunk, he saw God and “he smelled the sweet scent” (Genesis 8:21). This is the first recorded instance of someone smelling smoke from burning tobacco, which is how it’s known in Hebrew as “tabac.”

The next time we see smoking in the Bible is when Moses asked God to make him a god who would lead his people out of Egypt. God told him to take his staff and use it to hit a rock, which would produce water for Moses’ people.

Moses did this and then “put out his hand with his staff and struck the rock twice; water poured out abundantly” (Exodus 17:5). It’s possible that this passage refers to Moses smoking cannabis while meditating on God’s word—after all, it says he had “put out his hand,” which could easily refer to lighting up one’s joint or pipe!

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Vanish like Smoke | Smoke, Scripture

Smoke in the Bible


When I take a closer look at the Bible, it seems like smoke is everywhere! For example, smoke rises from sacrifices, God talks to people through clouds of smoke, and Jesus ascends into Heaven in a cloud of smoke. That’s just the beginning. In this post, we’ll explore some of these instances and more.

The smoke symbolizes holiness.

The smoke that you see from the fire is a symbol of holiness. The Bible uses this symbol to point us towards God and make us think about what He is like.

In the Bible, whenever something was holy or sacred it usually had some kind of smoke associated with it. For example:

  • When Moses built the tabernacle in Exodus 40:34-38 he made anointing oil for Aaron and his sons (Exodus 30:22). This oil was mixed with other ingredients so that when they put it on their bodies it would make them holy. If you were to breath in too much of this mixture then your eyes would start burning (Exodus 30:33). This shows how powerful this oil was! So if they couldn’t even breathe in any without getting burned then imagine how powerful God’s holiness must truly be!
  • Also in Exodus 40 when Moses came up onto Mount Sinai he saw God descend upon him while He filled up the entire mountain with His glory (Exodus 24:17-18). When Moses saw His glorious presence he did not want to look directly at Him so instead turned aside and bowed down low with his face touching earth because he knew that no one could behold His face—for no one shall see me and live —said God(Exodus 33:20).

The cloud of smoke symbolizes the presence of God.

The cloud of smoke symbolizes the presence of God. It’s a symbol of His glory, holiness, majesty and righteousness.

King Solomon wrote: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 18:2) This verse shows that when we have a strong relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior, He becomes our rock—our refuge—in life’s storms!

Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine, at a wedding feast in Cana (John 2)

You may not know the story of Jesus’ first miracle, which he performed at a wedding feast. In John 2:1-11 we read that “on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee… And late on the first day of the feast, when wine ran short.” At this point it became necessary for Jesus to intervene and make more wine. He told his mother Mary to give him some water; she filled six stone jars with water (which would have been available for Jewish purification rites), and Jesus turned them into the best wine of the feast!

Because Moses was afraid to look at God, God passed in front of him as a thick cloud on Mt. Sinai, making his presence felt but not seen (Exodus 19)

  • Exodus 3:2-6
  • Exodus 19:18
  • Exodus 34:5
  • Deuteronomy 5:4
  • Deuteronomy 31:15 (This text is the same as the previous one from Exod. 34, but it does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures.) ​

Psalm 99:7 “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let many islands be glad.” Psalm 104:32 “I will exalt You, my God and King.” Psalm 144:5 “O Lord my God, You who give life to all things…”

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, lightning flashed and thunder roared, the mountain smoked, and the whole people trembled (Exodus 19)

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, lightning flashed and thunder roared, the mountain smoked and the whole people trembled (Exodus 19:18). Then Moses spoke to God face-to-face. The Lord answered him with fire on top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:19). When he descended from heaven as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13), it was covered in smoke.

Jacob poured oil over a stone pillar, consecrating it as a holy place where God’s presence would dwell (Genesis 28)

The second time we see fire in the Bible is Jacob’s dream. He’s fleeing his brother Esau and ends up in the wilderness, where he has a dream about a stone pillar that becomes a ladder to heaven. The Lord tells him that he will eventually return to his home land of Canaan, but until then he needs to remain there and consecrate the place where God’s presence would dwell on earth as a holy sanctuary (Genesis 28).

So what does all this mean? Well, it looks like we’re not at all done with fire yet!

Elijah’s sacrifice was consumed by fire from heaven (1 Kings 18)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. When food supplies were low, and rain had not come for three years, God spoke to him through his servant and said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; behold, the Lord passes by.”

Elijah obeyed this command and went out to Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). The next day he prayed for rain. Then “the heaven was black with clouds and wind; there was a great earthquake; but God was not in it” (1 Kings 19:11). As he continued praying, a strong wind tore into him as if it would pull down his life (1 Kings 19:12). But he kept praying until fire came down from heaven on Mount Carmel and consumed all that was on top of it—the sacrifice—while leaving unharmed those who held their hands up toward heaven (1 Kings 18:38-39).

Smoke indicates that God is near

When you see smoke, it’s probably coming from a campfire. But when God wants to be in your presence, he can make smoke appear as well.

Smoke is a symbol of holiness and spiritual purity, so when the Bible says that God’s presence was like “a cloud of smoke,” it means he was very close. The pillar of smoke that led the Israelites through the desert was another way God showed himself to be close by; this happened at night when Moses went up on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights without food or water (Exodus 24:18).

When you see smoke today, keep an eye out! It might be God telling you something important!


While it’s hard to know what all of the references to smoke in the Bible mean, we can be sure that they are all connected. The Bible is clear that God controls fire and smoke, and he will use them for his purposes. He is sovereign over creation and sovereign over history. We can trust him because we see how he has used fire in the past for various reasons such as a judgment against sinfulness or as a sign of promise from God himself. We don’t know exactly what role fire will play in the future but we do know one thing: it will happen according to his plan!

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