What Does Smelling Smoke Mean Spiritually?
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What Does Smelling Smoke Mean Spiritually?

Smoke is a mysterious thing. It appears out of nowhere and invades our senses. The smell of smoke can spark wonder, fear, or peace within us. As Christians, we know there is deep spiritual meaning in the symbols and signs God places in our lives. Smelling smoke when there is no physical source is one such occurrence.

In this post, we will explore the spiritual meanings, signs, wonders, and warnings that can come with sensing the aroma of smoke. We will look at both positive and negative interpretations. Our goal is to understand God’s purpose when He allows us to smell smoke and how to respond in faith.


Smelling smoke spiritually is not an isolated phenomenon. Many Christians have experienced it. God may be trying to get our attention, speak encouragement, or reveal something through this unusual sensation.

As we dive into biblical meanings, remember that interpretations can vary. Not all smoke visions and smells originate from God. We must test impressions with wisdom and discernment. Let’s explore with open minds and hearts, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smelling smoke may indicate the presence of God
  • It can be a call to prayer or intercession
  • The enemy may also counterfeit smoke smells to deceive
  • We must test every spiritual smell and vision carefully
  • God uses smoke symbolically throughout Scripture
  • Smoke represents sacrifice, purification, revelation, and more
  • Both positive and negative meanings are possible
  • The context and fruit of the experience matter

With those things in mind, let’s look at why God may allow us to smell smoke and how to respond.

The Presence and Glory of God

One of the most common spiritual meanings of smoke is that it indicates the manifest presence and glory of God. As omniscient Spirit, God is invisible. Yet He has chosen to reveal His glory in visible, tangible ways through Scripture history. Smoky glory encounters with God are seen throughout the Bible.

Visible Glory

When God descended on Mount Sinai to establish His covenant with Israel, smoke and fire conveyed His power and holiness:

“Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” (Exodus 19:18 NKJV)

The prophets also had dramatic visions when they were summoned into God’s smoking presence. Ezekiel described seeing “a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself” surrounding God’s throne chariot (Ezekiel 1:4). Isaiah cried out “Woe is me!” when he stood before the Lord in the smoke-filled temple (Isaiah 6:4).

The pillar of cloud and fire that guided Israel through the wilderness was a visible manifestation of God’s glorious presence. When it rested on the tabernacle, the Lord’s glory filled the place with smoke (Exodus 40:34-35).

Sense Experiences

Just as the prophets physically saw smoke in their encounters, we may smell its aroma. Our spiritual senses are real and can be activated by God’s Spirit.

The first Pentecost began with the sound of a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire on the disciples’ heads, representing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-3). Likewise, God may send spiritual smoke as a sign of His power and presence with us.

Purposes of Visitation

Why does God reveal His glory in smoky visitations? These encounters marked new seasons, released prophetic visions, and initiated ministry assignments in Scripture.

When we smell smoke supernaturally, it may indicate the Lord desires deeper intimacy with us or wishes to impart wisdom, direction, assignments, empowerment, or healing. Drawing near to worship and pray is wise when this happens. Expectant hearts position us to receive from the Father.

Testing Encounters

While smoke can come from God, we must still test visions and spiritual sensory experiences (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so smells and visions require discernment.

Here are a few Scriptural checks:

  • Fruit check: What is the fruit of the experience? God won’t contradict His Word or lead us into immorality, confusion, or fear.
  • Peace check: God’s presence brings a sense of holy awe and peace beyond understanding. If you feel uneasy, confused, or fearful, pause to pray for discernment.
  • Jesus check: Does the smell direct your focus toward Jesus and the Word or away from them? The Holy Spirit always points to the Son.
  • Scripture check: Do the implications aligned with Scripture? We interpret subjective experiences against the truth of God’s Word, not the other way around.
  • Fleeces prayer made the check: Ask God to confirm or deny a smell through consistent signs or His still small voice. Fleeces like Gideon’s can clarify guidance from God.

Receiving spiritual smells with wisdom positions us to grow closer to Jesus in the fragrant smoke of His presence. Let’s continue exploring other meanings.

Intercession and Sacrifice

Smoke also connects with prayer and sacrifice in the Bible. God enjoys the aroma of smoldering incense and sacrifices from His people. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was likewise a sacred fragrance to the Father.

When we smell smoke, it may indicate a fresh call from God into deeper intercession. The Spirit may prompt persistent prayer for specific people, ministries, or situations facing oppression.

Incense Prayers

In the Old Testament temple, burning incense represented the prayers of the saints arising to heaven. Priests offered this sacrifice twice daily on the golden altar (Exodus 30:7-8, Luke 1:8-10).

The psalmist describes prayer as incense before God:

“Let my prayer be set before you like incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psalm 141:2)

Smelling smoke is a prompt to offer incense prayer. This may involve worshipful surrender, interceding for loved ones, crying out for justice, or bearing burdens for regions facing conflict and trauma. Expect God to bring prayer assignments and promises from His Word to fuel focused intercession.

Christ’s Sacrifice

Jesus’ death on the cross was a sacred act of substitutionary atonement for our sins. Scripture says He gave Himself as a fragrant offering, like incense and burnt sacrifices, to reconcile us with the Father:

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2)

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

When we smell smoke, it may point to the cross – reminding us of Christ’s sacrifice and kindling gratitude, humility, and surrender afresh in our hearts.

Unknown Tongues of Angels

Paul implied our prayers of the Spirit may be accompanied by spiritual smells and sounds beyond our understanding:

“For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit…In the Spirit he speaks mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 14:2, 14:15).

When we intercede in unknown tongues, things may be transpiring in the Spirit that our natural senses cannot fully discern. The aroma of smoke may accompany deep intercession as a sign of the Spirit’s activity.

Purification and Cleansing

Smoke has refining and cleansing properties. It was used to fumigate plague-stricken houses (Leviticus 14:53) and sanitize battle plunder (Numbers 31:22-23). Spiritually, smoky trials purify and strengthen our faith like “gold tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

God may allow the smell of smoke during times of spiritual warfare, attack, or sanctification. It may represent the cleansing work He wishes to do in our souls. The enemy hates the purifying work of the Holy Spirit. Expect spiritual resistance when smells indicate fresh cleansing. Put on armor, pray through confusion, and let the breath of God renew you.

Here are some ways God uses spiritual smoke for our good:

Refining Fire

The aroma of smoke signals that trials are kindling something new. God uses heat to strengthen character, vision, and intimacy with Him. Difficulties prepare and propel us into new levels of destiny.

Paul assured believers “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Keep this hope in mind when smoke represents refinement. The rewards will far outweigh present struggles.

Cleansing Strongholds

Demonic oppression can become like smoke clogging our senses. Invading darkness blinds people to truth. The enemy’s strategy is to contaminate and confuse.

When God stirs the embers of opposition, it may indicate fresh freedom and cleansing on the way. Praise God for bringing evil plans into the light! With smoke, His victory is at hand. Submit to God in prayer and actively renew your mind with Scripture when smoke smells signal spiritual attack. The darkness will scatter as we draw near to Jesus, the Light.

Healing Fires

Physical and emotional illnesses can be full of smoky residues keeping us in bondage. Addictions, trauma, toxic thought patterns, depression, anxiety, and more contain unclean influences.

God wants to burn away the fog and restore our freedom. The smell of smoke during prayer may signify healed vision, fresh hope, and breakthrough over affliction. However, we must also do our part by cutting off negative influences and renewing our minds daily. Wholeness is the Father’s will.

Presence in the Storm

When walking through stressful seasons, smelling smoke is a comfort that we are not alone. God manifested His presence in a fiery pillar even in the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings. He brings reassuring signs like smoke when we need them most.

If you smell smoke in a difficult season, be encouraged that the Spirit’s wind and fire is there too. He is burning away what needs to leave your life so greater glory can enter in.

Revelation and Mysteries Revealed

Smoke contains revelation. It hides the full picture until dispersed. In the Bible, smoke and fire shroud God until He chooses to unveil His glory and plans.

When we sense smoke spiritually, it may signify the Lord wants to share fresh mysteries and revelation with us. There are treasures of insight He wants to impart if we draw near.

Hidden Wisdom

Scripture says:

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)

God enjoys hiding revelation that He desires us to seek and find, like a playful father. As we pursue Him, smoking veils give way to eye-opening encounters. When He sends a smoke smell, something fresh is on the horizon. Seek Him with expectancy!

Vision Clearing

Smoke dims natural sight until air brings clarity. We cannot see far through smoky air. Similarly, spiritual vision needs occasional clearing and refreshing to gain new perspective.

The aroma of smoke signals that God wants to bring our spiritual eyesight into sharper focus. Restrictive mindsets or deceptive spirits may be clouding our perception. Believe for fresh vision to begin flowing as prayer clears away fogginess! God may open our eyes to people and situations in new ways that empower His purposes.

Birthing of Insight

Isaiah associated smoke with God’s voice delivering revelation:

“Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst. I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:1-2)

Like a growing cloud, spiritual smoke may signal revelation, prophetic words, visions, and dreams soon to come. Journal what you see and sense when this happens. Ponder how God might bring it to pass. Mysteries exposed in smoke many contain wisdom vital for the days ahead.

Warning and Coming Justice

In addition to positive meanings, smoke in Scripture often represents warning, judgment, and impending disaster. People in rebellion against God lived carelessly, unaware of the coming calamity revealed in prophetic warnings.

Pending Judgment

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Revelation and other prophetic books describe smoke accompanying the judgment of nations under God’s wrath for idolatry and injustice.

Here are a few examples:

“The constellations in the sky sent you no light, no sun shone on you. The smoke that rose up from the pit plunged the land into darkness…” (Isaiah 34:4-5)

“I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black…The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains…For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

Smoke here points to divine retribution coming because of unrepentant sin. It warns of cataclysmic events unfolding on the earth in connection with end times tribulation.

Coming Destruction

When God brought judgments like plagues, fire, and floods, Scripture often describes smoke rising from ravaged towns and countries facing calamity.

Before Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction, Abraham saw “dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:28). The psalmist also mentions smoke arising from God’s wrath upon the wicked (Psalm 18:7-8).

We should take spiritual smoke smells seriously, testing if they indicate coming hardship or judgment we or our region face without repentance. God in His mercy provides warnings so we have time to respond.

Hell’s Reality

Smoke is a prominent symbol of the torment awaiting in hell. Jesus said the wicked will be cast into an unquenchable fire where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:24-28).

Revelation 14:11 describes the smoke of damned souls ascending forever. For unbelievers, smoke is a fearful sign of impending eternity apart from God.

For believers who smell smoke, it may remind us to intercede urgently for lost loved ones. Christ’s return approaches, and “now is the acceptable time” for salvation.

Call to Repentance

Spiritual smoke serves as a wake-up call to get our hearts right with God. The Lord in His mercy gives us opportunity to turn from sin before judgment falls. But there is an expiration date to His long-suffering.

When He shows us smoke, let it spur us to holiness, repentance, and dependence on the Spirit. God does not pour out wrath without warning. How will we respond to the signs?

Moving Forward with Discernment

We have explored numerous reasons God may supernaturally allow us to smell smoke. It can represent both positive and negative spiritual dynamics. Only God knows the exact purpose when it happens.

Our role is simply to respond with wisdom. Look for context clues, test with Scripture, and seek discernment from mature believers. Journal what you sense the smoke may mean, ask God for confirmation, and pray through any application He shows you.

Above all, let the smell of smoke draw you closer to Jesus in worship, thanksgiving, and intercession. He will lead us into truth and greater freedom as we submit our senses to His Spirit. God bless you as you follow His heart.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.