” A fire shall always be burning on the altar, it shall never go out.” Leviticus 6:13
This verse jumped out at me the other day as I was reading that most mis-understood of books, Leviticus. I’d like to share with you what God brought to my heart.
Leviticus 6:8-13 is the record of the law of the burnt offering. This is Old Covenant stuff yes, but the principle presented here is eternal, and is recorded for our benefit.
God is here setting forth His commands to the priest, Aaron and his sons. All believers are now priests unto God under the New Covenant, so there is something here for us.
“And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, is shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings.” Leviticus 6:12
Two points here:
1. God requires that the fire on the altar never goes out
2. God requires that the priest shall keep the fire burning by bring wood every morning
Where does the fire come from? It is a divine fire, lit by God Himself.
“…Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:23, 24
The fire must be lit by God to be holy. God will never accept our self-effort, it is a “profane fire” to Him. The fire must be initiated by Him and comes from Him alone. We see on the Day of Pentecost the fire of God settling upon each of those in the Upper Room (Acts 2:3). This was fire sent by God, as John the Baptist had prophesied “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance but He who is coming after me is mightier than I… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11.
All of our fleshly works must be consumed. Look at what happened to Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu when they offered the “fire” of their own self-effort…
“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1, 2
So we see that God will never accept fire, or works, initiated by man. However God does require man to play his part too.
Whilst the fire is initiated by God, God gives the responsibility to maintain the fire to man. God will never do for us what He expects us to do ourselves. So He commands the priests to keep the fire burning, to not let it die out.
How do we keep it burning continually? Well God even tells us how to do that…
“And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning…” Leviticus 6:13
Praying and spending time with the Lord, in His Word daily keeps the fire burning.
“…and lay the burnt offering in order on it…” Leviticus 6:14. How?
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1
“You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire.
Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.” Leonard Ravenhill