On Saturday, in “What Is in YOUR Sacrifice, Part 2”, we saw that besides being completely free of “yeast” – sin, selfish ambition, legalism and pride; besides containing plenty of “salt” – reflecting Jesus and influencing the world for God’s Kingdom; we must also willingly give God all of our excess, that it may be sown back into the Kingdom of God!
Leviticus 6 makes reference to the term, “perpetual fire”: “The burnt offering must be left on top of the altar until the next morning, and the fire on the altar must be kept burning all night…Meanwhile, the fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must never go out…Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out.” (Leviticus 6:9, 12, 13 NLT).
It is said that when God repeats Himself, it is a signal for us to pay close attention. Here we have God repeating Himself not just twice, but three times in the space of five verses. Shouldn’t this cause us to at least, as a minimum, check it out? But we don’t make burning sacrifices anymore. What can this have to do with our sacrifices?
In order to better understand the significance of this command for us today, we need to understand why it was important for Israel to keep the fires burning.
It would appear that God liked to reveal Himself to Israel through fire. He called Moses from a burning bush that never burned up (See Ex. 3:2), and He appeared to Israel as a pillar of fire at night, again, a pillar that never burned up (See Ex. 13:31-32).*
We also know that it was actually God who started these fires. Leviticus 9 tells us, “Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.” (vs. 24a NLT), and we also know that when Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu offered their own version of fire in the Lord’s presence, they were punished: “But Nadab and Abihu died in the Lord’s presence in the wilderness of Sinai when they burned before the Lord the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded.” (Numbers 3:4a NLT).
Finally, we know that fire represented God’s presence: “The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God.” (Deut. 4:24 NLT).
Putting this all together, we can see that this continuous fire would have helped Israel to remember that God’s presence is real and that they needed Him in their lives. It would also remind all of us that God will never leave us or forsake us, but that He will always be with us.
This speaks volumes in regards to the sacrifices we make to God on a daily basis of our time, our talents, our resources and our worship. Whatever it is we are giving back to God’s kingdom, we need to understand that God will use our sacrifices to shine forth His presence, to remind people everywhere that He will never leave us or forsake us.
This is all fine and good, but just what does it really mean? I mean, we can’t have a literal perpetual flame burning up our time and talents, our resources and our worship. Neither can we be continually singing for the Lord or giving Him all our money.
Let’s remember that fire is used in the New Testament as a sign of the Holy Spirit. When preaching about Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire…” (Matthew 3:11b NLT); and tongues of fire were seen over the heads of the believers on that first Pentecost as the Holy Spirit was poured out (See Acts 2:3).
Secondly, let’s remember that not every sacrifice is accepted by God. Remember Cain and Abel (See Genesis 4:2-5)? Let’s now jump to the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (See 1 Kings 18:16-45). The prophets tried all day to get their sacrifices to go up in flames, but it didn’t happen. Only when Elijah placed his sacrifice and prayed to God did fire come down from Heaven. From this we learn that our sacrifices to God need to be acceptable to Him, and only when they are will that fire come down.
What this all means is that when our sacrifices are acceptable to God, He will anoint them with His Spirit where they will become a “perpetual flame”.
The truth of the matter is this: We may try on our own to offer sacrifices to God, but if they are not ordained by Him, then they will not be accepted. They will not receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and they will not survive.
Years ago, we decided to host satellite-projected evangelical meetings in our home. We had a huge sign built and put on our front lawn, we had spot lights shining on the sign, we handed out pamphlets to our neighbours and invited them personally to attend, and we opened our door at the prescribed time. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t make the effort to ask God if this is what He wanted us to do. Anyone surprised that nobody came? We weren’t discouraged, however. We continued our efforts night after night, praying that God would accept the sacrifice of our time and efforts. A couple weeks into the series, someone stole the spotlights off our lawn, and it wasn’t long before the sign was knocked down. We became the laughing stock of our neighbourhood, and as a result of this, any future efforts for evangelism with our neighbours were completely rejected for years to come.
About 30 years ago, God impressed upon my husband to start up this ministry. He obeyed, sacrificing his time and talents and resources. The ministry took off right away. It started small, but it grew exponentially over the years until it is now a world-wide ministry with volunteers from every continent.
Both were good ideas, but one failed while the other thrived. The difference? God didn’t ordain the satellite-projected evangelical meetings; but He did ordain this ministry. The first was never lit up with His Spirit and it went nowhere. God did pour out His Spirit upon the second, and it continues to flourish.
What do our sacrifices need to look like?
Besides being completely free of sin, selfish ambition, legalism and pride; besides reflecting Jesus and influencing the world for God’s Kingdom; besides being willing to give God all of our excess, our sacrifices must be covered by His Spirit. This outpouring of God’s Spirit on our sacrifices will only happen when they are ordained by God and are God-driven.
Join us on Thursday to see learn what the sacrificial timelines on when to eat offerings have to teach us about modern-day sacrifices in “Two Days? What’s in YOUR Sacrifice, Part 4.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” miniseries, please click here!)