Burning Altars By Elijah Stephen

 
Burning Altars By Elijah Stephen

As a person, I never really cooked with firewood. Let's say I never really did any serious cooking myself that involved so much stress as using firewood. However, when I got to the family house of the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship, Kebbi State Chapter, I was introduced to cooking with firewood. I would say it is the most stressful way of cooking as compared to using a gas cooker, a stove or an electric cooker. It was work to ignite the fire and another to keep it burning. At the inception of the fire, we would have to take away the previous ash so as to have a very clean spot. I suppose that it was necessary to make a fresh fire and to avoid any kind of hindrance or delay after the fire must have been made. After that, the woods are rightly placed underneath the tripod stand, and things that aid the burning of the woods are being used to make the fire such as nylon, plastics, kerosene, petrol, etc. Sometimes, we may still have to fan the wood to flame. It was that serious. This is nothing compared to the work after. While it takes time to make the fire, it takes serious work to keep it burning. I remember then that at intervals, we would have to check the fire we made to see if it is still burning or not. If by chance, it stops burning, we would have to add more woods, plastics, nylon, kerosene or petrol; something to keep the fire burning. This is simply because we know for sure what the absence of fire would do to the food that is being cooked. As a result, we had to do everything possible to keep the fire burning.

“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings”.  (Leviticus 6:12).

This is to say that in order to keep a fire burning; several things must be put in place. If one is to use the crude way of cooking, that is, making use of firewood for example, such a person would have to make sure the woods are properly set accompanied with that which can ignite a fire (kerosene or petrol) as the case may be. If these things are put in place, one can easily cook without stress. Having said this, it is one thing to make a fire and it is another to keep it burning. This is the focus of the theme, "Burning altars" as seen in Leviticus 6:12.

The Lord gave Moses an instruction for Aaron and his sons concerning the burnt offering as to how they were to carry it out and with it came an instruction that the fire must not be put out but must keep burning ( verse 12). This means that they were not only to make the fire and offer the sacrifice upon the altar but they were to as well make sure that the fire was never quenched as they were to keep offering sacrifices on it now and then.

It has been stated clearly from the preceding paragraphs that to keep a fire burning especially one made with wood, one would have to check severally. This is necessary because the fire may put out itself and this is detrimental to what food is being cooked as it may either take too much time before it is ready or may not even be well cooked. Therefore, one has to make sure the woods are always properly set; things that aid its burning are put into it such as plastics which in turn make it difficult for the fire to be put out. It is even more important to note that the main work starts before the fire is made as the previous ash that was deposited has to be taken away and discarded. This aids the consistent burning of the wood and causes the fire to burn without being put out.

This is necessary before even making the fire and it was that which the Lord first commanded Moses to tell the Priests (verse 10, 11). What could have been the reason for that? Most likely because for the altar to burn consistently (verse 12), every barrier had to be taken away.

While the scripture may have referred to a literal altar with regards to the Old Testament, it is important to note how this passage of scripture applies to believers today. Believers are living altars for the Lord, and as a result, must burn daily for him. They are to live ever conscious of the love, goodness and mercy of God. This is because they are channels through which the Lord carries out his counsels on earth. The problem however is that many believers are yet to take care of the ash. They have quite a number of things quenching the fire when even the Lord has commanded that the fire must not be put out but that it must keep burning. Are you still the way you once were? Hasn't the fire been put out? It is also important to know that even though we took care of the ash before making the fire, we still have to keep checking the fire. We have to keep checking the altar because the command is that the fire must not be put out. When last did you examine yourself if as a living altar for the Lord you're still burning? Also, the desire of God for even those who are yet to know him is that they become living altars too such that they burn without fading out and all he requires is that they first make the place clean by taking away the ash. Are you ready to take that step? It is not just enough for one person to be a burning altar for God such that his fire never goes out but we all must become living altars who burn continually, day and night, for the Lord.

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