Leviticus 6:12-13 emphatically declares, "The fire on the altar must be continuously kindled; it must never be extinguished." What does this flame represent? And what makes it of such significance?
“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.”
In reading through this chapter, we see that God gives instruction to keep the fire burning three times. He communicates this same command in Leviticus 6:9. When God repeats Himself three times, I have learned that it is best to pay attention.
“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.”
In this passage, we learn that the fire, which originated from God's Presence and consumed the offering, symbolized His might, power, and constant presence for the people of Israel. It served as an enduring reminder of God's significance, and it was the designated place for making atonement, with only His Heavenly fire being deemed sufficient.
Hebrews 10 explains that the sacrificial rituals of the past were mere shadows of a greater reality to come. These rituals pointed to the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus, emphasizing that the blood of bulls and goats could not truly take away sin. Hence, the continuous need for such offerings. In contrast, the blood of Jesus provides a lasting atonement for our sins.
The connection to God's presence lies in the symbolism of the fire. The fire represents His presence. However, its impact extends beyond purification; it serves to direct, lead, and empower us to claim the enemy's territory and dedicate it to God.
We know that Jesus is our ultimate and permanent sacrifice. It is no longer necessary for sacrificial rituals. However, Paul urges the Romans to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. This laying of oneself on the altar is holy and pleasing to God. Paul calls it a reasonable act of worship.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
In keeping with the analogy of the fire in Leviticus, we are to keep the fire of His presence burning as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. One of the ways we can stoke this fire is by remaining in His Word.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
God said to Joshua that he was going to lead the Israelites to inherit the promised land. The Word of God becomes fuel for the fire of His presence in our lives. Without the Word, His Presence would be difficult to maintain. When the Word is hidden in our hearts, it affects the choices that we make. It affects our judgments and our opinions.
Jesus great commandment in Matthew 22 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. The word used for heart translates, “the place from where we make our decisions.”
When our affection for Him is intricately linked to the command hubs of our minds, wills, and emotions, we will willingly act in obedience to Him, even if it requires significant sacrifice. This love stems from a deep intimacy with God. Engaging with Him in a face-to-face manner heightens our devotion and fondness, thereby enhancing our capacity to receive more of His presence.
Through an unwavering commitment to remain as living sacrifices on the altar, continuously stoking the flames of His Presence through encounters with His Word and face-to-face interactions, we produce an abundance that sanctifies every place our feet traverse for Him.
Living sacrificially poses various challenges, encompassing acts of kindness towards our neighbors and situations demanding more than we think we can offer. Whether it entails financial contributions, dedicating time, or extended periods of prayer, maintaining this commitment requires His presence. Within His presence, there is a sense of rest even amid the sacrificial acts.
Very early in our married life, Chris and I were in full-time volunteer ministry. What I mean by that is we were working in ministry for no pay. Essentially, we were living by faith. Some would say we were being irresponsible while others admired our faith. We were simply moving in obedience. We felt that obedience was the only responsible course of action. Samuel said to Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. I think sometimes obedience is the sacrifice. Regarding our faith, it was a season of contending daily to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. I always felt that I was fighting to hold on to faith. The good news is that He is always faithful.
One day, during this season, we met with a man who was in a similar circumstance financially. We had one package of chicken left in our freezer with no idea when more provision was coming. Chris and I both felt that we needed to give this last package of meat to this friend. That was not an easy decision to make. It turns out that he had a similar last package of chicken in his freezer that the Lord told him to give to us. We laughed as we exchanged packages.
That simple act seemed to increase more of the Presence of God in our home. Faith is more than a belief or conjuring up a feeling. Our faith in God must propel us to obey with our actions, no matter how insignificant the action may seem. Only then will be see demonstrations of His power and miracles in our lives.
During that season, we consistently experienced miraculous provisions. This not only transformed us internally but also helped steer the trajectory of our lives. Recalling those moments, the challenges of maintaining faith and occasional stresses have become distant memories. What remains vivid is the enduring joy of feeling His presence in our lives.
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”