“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.” Leviticus 6:12-13
The fire on our Prayer Altar must never go out. These verses repeat this refrain twice such is the imperative of this action. The fire must be kept burning…it must not go out. As Melchizedekian priests we are to make sure the fire on the altar of our hearts is burning bright!
Every morning (the Hebrew word used is ”boqer” meaning dawn) as we set aside our time with the Lord to build our Prayer Altar, we are to add three things: firewood, the burnt offering and our fellowship offering.
Firstly, the Firewood –Without the wood there is no fire to burn the sacrifices. The wood on the altar points to the Cross. Isaac’s wood that he carried up Moriah (Genesis 22:6) is a type of the Cross just as Isaac is a type of Christ being offered up by the heavenly father. The cross speaks of denial of self. It is not self-denial where self is still on the throne and we give up things for own glory. It is putting our self to death on the Cross and allowing the resurrected Christ to live through us.
As Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Daily coming to the Prayer Altar is part of this taking up of the Cross. It is laying aside our fleshly screams for comfort and instead sacrificing time and effort in reading big chunks of His Word and pressing in to seek His face, pouring out our life in intercession for others. As we do these things, we keep the fire burning on the Altar of our Hearts.
Secondly, the Burnt Offering – The Burnt Offering was an offering of all the animal. The Hebrew word for this offering is “Olah” meaning an ascending stair, a going upwards as all the offering was to be burnt and the smoke ascend to heaven. It was giving an offering to be totally consumed on the altar.
The Burnt Offering focused on the satisfaction of God’s righteousness because of the sacrificial death of the animal offered and had to be the best quality animal. This was fulfilled in the total offering of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Now we offer a Burnt Offering when we offer our lives fully to God through what Christ has done as we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is what Romans 12:1-2 is talking about:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
For us, becoming a burnt offering means we must daily offer our bodies for His glory, so we live holy and acceptable lives for Him. That is walking in purity in our bodies as they are Temples of the Holy Spirit.
It was to be in proper arrangement and order. The Hebrew word used here is “arak” meaning to set in a row or arranging in proper order. According to Romans 12:1-2 that proper order is that we must offer our bodies to Him because of His mercies and not to earn His mercy. Then we must be transformed by renewing our mind and not being conformed to this world.
As we walk in greater holiness and transformation of the mind, we are stirring up the fires on the Altar of our heart.
Thirdly and lastly, the Fellowship Offering – This is also called the Peace Offering (“selem” in the Hebrew) as it is an offering to celebrate the peace we have with God and with others. Christ is the fulfilment of the Peace Offering. Through Christ’s death we have peace and fellowship with God and peace and fellowship with man (Ephesians 2:13-18).
Today this offering speaks of our sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise as we see in Hebrews 13:15:
” Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
In this offering the fat (that is the richest and best part) was offered to Lord, and the meat would be eaten by the priest (Leviticus 7:31-33). In fact, it is the only offering where the person offering gets something back (that is the meat). The emphasis here is on the benefits to the person offering.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the offering of the fatted calf was a peace offering where the father was thankful to God for the return of His son and the peace and reconciliation that had happened between them. They would have celebrated by eating the meat of the sacrifice in a celebratory meal.
As we offer up regularly our best praise and thanksgiving to God we are feasting in His presence and being built up and sustained in Him and the fire on the Altar of our heart burns brighter. Also, as we make peace with others through the day, we are stoking the fires of revival in our heart with this offering.
If we put all this together we can say that we keep the fire burning on the Altar of our hearts by daily taking up our cross in sacrificial reading of His Word, living in praise and thanksgiving with hungry and desperate prayer and intercession, walking in cleansing and holiness and reconciling with others.
Let us go and keep the fire burning. Amen.