Growing up one of the instructions that were often stressed before I will leave home to get on the school bus was “always check to ensure no car is coming before you cross the road.” My mum will say this halfway through my getting ready process, say it again when she checks on me and my siblings after eating breakfast and finally will shout after us as we run to get on the bus with our elder sister. Instructions are very important because every action one takes in life has an outcome. Failing to adhere to the right instructions could incur disastrous outcome.
Leviticus chapter 6 stresses three (3) times in a row to Moses the leader of the Israelites and the priests that the fire on the altar must be kept burning (Leviticus 6:9, 12, & 13). As I read the text, I said to myself, it must be a very important instruction for God to have emphasized it three (3) times in the same chapter. Beloved, please let us soak in God’s word as He calls us to keep the fire on the altar burning. The Israelites are now camping in the wilderness and in Leviticus, God uses this time to teach His people His law and stresses the obedience of this law in order to continue fellowship with God and also obtain the blessings God has prepared for His people.
In Leviticus 6, the text begins by providing instructions on how to offer a guilt offering for sins committed. In these instructions, God commands that the offender must make amends with persons they have sinned against and also present a guilt offering to God to seek forgiveness and to be made right with God. As the person goes through this process, they repent, are forgiven and made pure to walk before God.
The guilt offering that the person brings are placed on the altar and God commands for the first time, the fire on the altar must be kept burning.
“Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.
The second time, God stresses the fire must be kept burning whilst another offering is placed on it
And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it 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.
For the third time, God says the fire shall always be kept burning, never to go out.
A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.
Why must the fire be kept burning?
The fire on the altar must be kept burning as this reminds the people that God is with them always. It also makes me think about the role the fire plays in sin offerings of the people. One will easily recall their folly when they take a look at the perpetual burning altar, he or she will be quickly be reminded of God’s law and will be inspired to abide in the law. The fire consumes the offering also showing the mercies of God that takes away our sin and shame and restores us into right standing with God.
What does it mean for us to keep the fire burning on the altar?
The altar here is our hearts as believers, the fire is the presence of God. God has given us believers His Spirit to abide in us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and with Spirit of God abiding in our hearts. The Holy Spirit works in our hearts by quickening and reminding us of God’s truth so that we always able to yield and abide in God’s will. We keep the fire burning by listening and obeying God’s word in our lives, abiding in the righteousness that we have been given in Christ Jesus and walking in holiness and purity all the days of our lives.
1 Thessalonians 5:19, this scripture says, “Do not quench the Holy Spirit”, Ephesians 4:30, says “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit”. Just as God spoke to the people of Israel in the wilderness, today, God is speaking to us, let us not quench or grieve the Spirit of God in us. Failing to obey God’s word always incur very unfavorable consequences. We put out the fire by disobeying God’s word, walking in the flesh and not yielding to the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God becomes distant from us and we fail to hear Him. We miss out on God and we find our lives going astray. As my dear mother always stressed to us to look out to ensure no cars were coming before we crossed the road if we had failed to do that even once, something terrible would have happened to us. God’s word is extremely important, by obeying it, not only do we receive blessings but we are preserved and able to continue to have a wonderful fellowship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May God continue to give us the grace and power to keep the fire on our altar burning. Stay blessed and always remember Jesus loves you for He gave His life to save yours.