Today’s reading includes Leviticus 9:7-10:20, Mark 4:26-5:20, Psalm 37:30-40, Proverbs 10:6-7.
Today, my thoughts are on something useful and valuable which is at the same time, dangerous and costly. My thoughts are on the purpose of fire. We have been studying the offerings required of God’s people before Jesus and it involved fire. It seems to me there are good fires and bad fires. There are holy fires and unholy fires. When God first appeared to Moses, He appeared to him in flames of fire from the burning bush. (Exodus 3:2). The bush did not burn up–it was a perpetual fire. Exodus 13:21-22 tells us that throughout the time God was leading the people through the wilderness, He led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and by a pillar of fire at night—once again, a perpetual fire. (Exodus 12:21-22)
Then came the law and all of its requirements. One of the requirements involved the tending of the fire. It, too, was to be a perpetual fire. Leviticus 6:13 said:
“The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”
Three different times in chapter six, God says to keep the fire going. (verses 9, 12, and 13) Three times. What does that tell us? It is holy. It is to be a perpetual and holy fire, which represents a perpetual and holy God.
In the previous chapters, we have been hearing the instructions to the priests concerning the offerings. They were taking notes, learning the ropes. But today we see the time had come. It was time to implement what had been instructed. Aaron did as instructed, and he prepared the sacrifices first. He slaughtered the calf for himself as a sin offering, then an animal for the burnt offering, then he, as the high priest, presented the people’s goat for their sin. A literal scape-goat. Then, another burnt offering, then the grain offering. Then, he slaughtered the bull and the ram for the people’s peace offering. After following all of the instructions to a “t”, he raised his hands and blessed the people. Then they presented all of these to the Lord and he and Moses went into the Tabernacle. When they came back out, they blessed the people again. Then we see a wonderful account. The glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. Fire—good, holy fire—“blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell down on the ground.”
God Himself started the fire for the sacrifice. God Himself initiated the only way for the people to get right with God. This fire represented God’s presence, and they could not let the fire go out. Just as the pillar of fire which led them through the darkest times of their wilderness journey was a perpetual fire, so the holy fire God sent could not be allowed to go out. The priests must keep this fire going, day in and day out.
“God is a consuming fire”
Shekinah glory is a term that the Jews use to describe God’s ongoing presence. In the Encyclopedia Judaica the “Shekinah” is defined as “the Divine Presence, the numinous immanence of God in the world,…a revelation of the holy in the midst of the profane….” (Volume 14, pp. 1349-1351).
Though the current form of the word commonly used by Jewish people was not in the Bible, according to the folks at patheos.com, an early form of the word was in the Bible.
The work Shekinah is from the Hebrew word “shekinot” and actually is in the Bible where God is said to “settle in” or “dwell with.” This word means where God is dwelling, settling or where His Divine Presence is. This glory is seen when God’s glory filled the Temple and even in the wilderness where He was a light during the night and the Shekinah cloud of His glory shaded Israel in the scorching sun of the desert. His presence was manifested by the intense light that filled the Tabernacle, the Temple in Jerusalem and even in the Transfiguration on the Mount where Jesus shone brighter than the sun when He spoke with Moses and Elijah ….”
It was this Shekinah glory which Moses longed for when he boldly said to the Lord, “Show me your glory.” And it was this Shekinah glory that was so marvelous, so wonderful, so bright and white and pure, that Moses could not handle the full glory.
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
It was not until Jesus died and rose again that we were given the opportunity to have eyes to see His glory and feet to walk boldly to the Throne of God. And even still, we will not be able to fully understand or comprehend the full Shekinah glory until we stand before Him, clothed with the finely woven linen given to us by our Bridegroom. At that time, we will finally see Him face to face.
12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
The Shekinah glory was visible when God rained down as fire at the altar of burnt offering. This was a reminder and symbol of the ongoing presence of God and was meant to remind the Israelites that salvation is only from the Lord. The atonement made at the burnt offering could only be made through Him, who is perpetually with us and for us. Remember in Biblical times, pre-electricity days, the only “light in the darkness” was fire.
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And what are we to do with this light—this holy fire—which is the Presence of God in our souls? We are to let our light—our fire, our Jesus—shine for all to see.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5: 13-15
Today, remember that the holy fire of the perpetual presence of God is what will light your lamp with the holy fire. Don’t hide that light, that holy fire. Let it shine so others may see a way in the darkness, and feel the warmth of His Presence.