Scripture Reading: Leviticus 5:14-7:10 / Mark 10:32-52 / Proverbs 6:12-19
Fire is a remarkable and powerful force. The Bible speaks about fire as a symbolism of wrath, judgment, conviction and the empowering Spirit. The Lord gave specific instructions concerning the altar fire and the burnt offering, “…the fire must be kept burning on the altar. The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes…” (Leviticus 6:9,10)
A lamb was to be sacrificed every morning and every evening on the altar. The entire lamb was to be consumed by the fire. Other sacrifices like the fellowship, meal, guilt and sin offerings were to be partially consumed and then ate by the priests but the burnt sacrifice was to be completely burned until nothing was left.
The amazing thing is that man did not light the altar fire, God did. “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering.” (9:24) God knows how to start a fire! When Solomon dedicated the Temple, God sent fire from heaven. Elijah prayed on Mt. Carmel and God sent a fire that completely consumed the sacrifice and the entire altar!
God starts a fire in us too. His powerful presence transforms our hearts and lives. It is not a psychological result of our emotions but a divine work of His Holy Spirit. God bathed and baptized the early church with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and Luke described it as, “tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” (Acts 2:3) His Spirit fills and transforms our lives.
God also gave the further instructions, “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” (6:13) The fire was not to be extinguished or die out. God intended the fire to never go out as it represented worship, praise and supplication. The daily sacrifices constantly burning on the altar symbolized unceasing worship through the daylight hours and the watches of the night.
The consecration and fire in our hearts for the things of God must never go out. Life’s perplexities, doubt and even complacency can quench the fire of The Holy Spirit in our lives. God instructed the priests to stoke and enable the fire to burn in a spirit of holiness and righteousness. The priest was required to wear linen clothes that symbolized the purity that was needed to approach the altar of God. If they approached the altar without them, they would themselves be consumed.
Ashes were to be removed from the altar and carried outside the camp. There are also ashes of sin, transgressions, pride and flesh in all of us that will choke the fire within. Every sin and weight must be set aside and all dross must be removed from our lives. We need the fresh and daily kindling of prayer, worship, praise, fellowship and The Word to keep His Spirit ablaze in us… Keep The Fire Burning!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!