Keep the Fire Burning
Day: 9 | Plan: Leviticus-Hebrews
Today's Reading: Leviticus 6
Leviticus 6:12-13 (NIV) “The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”
Leviticus is the handbook for the priests. After reading just the first several chapters, I can tell you I would have needed a helpful reminder of exactly what God expected for each of these unique offerings and priestly protocols. In Leviticus 6, we get God’s expectations for the burnt offerings.
There is a detail of this offering that was not to be forgotten: the fire must not go out. This fire was to burn continuously⎯morning, noon and night. Before we talk about the significance of this perpetual flame, let’s remind ourselves of the purpose and significance of the burnt offering.
Exodus 29 explains that the lambs of burnt offering were sacrificed at the entrance to the tent of meeting because this was the place where the Lord met with Moses and the people; it was consecrated, or made holy, for His glory. (Exodus 29:43)
These lambs were to be offered to God as a sacrifice from His people, but this is unique from the sin offering. This burnt offering honored His holiness and invited His presence. As a constant reminder of His presence, they were to keep the fire for the burnt offering kindled.
The flame to be preserved by the priests wasn’t started by the priests.
In Leviticus 9 we get an important interpretive key to the significance of the flame the priests were to keep burning.
That passage describes the first occasion they presented a sacrifice for the burnt offering. They prepared the offering, but they didn’t light the flame. “Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” (Leviticus 9:24).
So the burnt offerings were to welcome and revere the Lord, but He would provide the fire of His holiness to consume them. The people brought the sacrifice; God Himself provided the flame.
God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, provided the sacrifice to make you and me holy. When we trust Jesus to be our sacrifice, the Holy Spirit comes to live in each of us as the fierce, blue, piercing flame of the perpetual presence of God.
Levitical law serves as a reminder that our efforts will never be sufficient to satisfy God. The law was perfect; we are not. So God, through Jesus Christ, did it all. And the Holy Spirit burns brightly in and through us to show others that only Jesus is enough.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for doing for me what I was incapable of doing for myself. I know my heart. I could never keep my word, follow Your instruction, fan the flame perpetually. The work of Jesus is enough. I praise You that Your Holy Spirit burns within me. May I fan that flame with diligence and passion. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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