Burning Altars (Essay) by Ande Dooshima

“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.” – Leviticus 6:12 (NIV) 

Burning Altars (Essay) by Ande Dooshima

The Christian race is a historical development of several encounters with GOD. This new development began from the times of Man then it evolved to the times of the Prophets/Priests; and now to the era of the Holy Spirit. The term “Burning Altars” is a Biblical term which stands for the relationship between God and man. God has said that He would not dwell in man forever. He is a consuming fire; meaning that there is something about fire that resonates around the person of God. In this work, some major terms shall be discussed accordingly, depicting the relationship between God and man and how it relates with Burning Altars. It is evident that for a Christian to be fire branded and indeed panting after God zealously, there ought to be a burning altar. The altar has to be kept burning. There shouldn't be any room for the devil to quench that fire. The relevance of a burning altar in the life of a believer can never be over-emphasized.

According to the King James Version Dictionary, ALTAR is defined as “a mount; a table or elevated place, on which sacrifices were anciently offered to some deity.” Apparently, in ancient times, our forefathers who worshiped God created several altars to worship Him. Those altars then served as the location where God is reverenced. It was the place many went each time there was a need to cry out to God. It was the place of encounter and in the above scripture, the Priests were given this instruction: “…Keep the Fire burning…!” There is a reason why that instruction was given to the then Priests of those days. It was of great necessity that the fire be kept burning and symbolically; in this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, that same fire has to be kept burning in order that we might experience the tangible presence of God!

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is a spirit! And those who worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth!” – John 4:23-24 (NIV) 

The altar can be referred to our Churches today. The place where we go to the tabernacle with God as a family. This altar should not be neglected. It is expected to be a habit as it was in the olden days. The Altar may also mean the personal relationship every single one of us as Believers have with God. Quoting directly from the scripture, it reads: “Every morning the Priest is to…” That is, “Oh my dearest ones, there is work to do! Every morning, you have to do this and do that!” From scriptures, we have come to realize that we are God’s Royal Priesthood; and we are held as the apple of His eyes. 

Thus, the relevance of the scripture hits deep in our world today since we all have been made the Priesthood of God by the atoning blood of Jesus! There is work to do! Yes, there is the working Grace of God. However, note the work expected from the Priest as the Bible reads further and said, “…the Priest is to add…” That is, it is expected that the Priest adds more firewood to the altar. The relevance of the Altar is defined by the fire generated from it. The Priest is to be prepared by the night before. He must have prepared his firewood the night before since, now, it has become a rule that that fire has to be kept burning!

In other words, the Lord is saying that we should keep seeking Him. We can never get to the end of God. He is an eternal God. He seeks men who would worship Him every morning and not only on some days. He wants more than just the Sunday worship and Praise Session. He is after an eternal relationship with Him which would then transform to be a lifestyle. It is expected to become a habit. A need; that when not satisfied, such a person is not okay. An example could be the studying of the Word of God. Imagine a Christian Believer without the Word of God, such a Believer would be a powerless Christian due to the fact that we need to burn something on the Altar. We need to keep the fire burning in order that we can burn the fat!

What is this fat? There is no big grammar. According to other versions such as the New American Standard Bible, New King James Version and the likes, it is simply the fat portions of the fellowship offerings offered up to God. In this case, the fat portions have to be the best sacrifices to be offered on the altar! Let’s give God the highest Praise! Let’s give God the Highest Honor! Let’s give God the Highest Worship! It should not be contemplated as True Christians who desired to worship God in Spirit and In Truth. This speaks volume even in our financial life, our social life, also, what we prioritize as Christian Believers. It is expedient that the truth is revealed to every True Christian Believer who has that intense desire to Please God. The Altar has to have the best of all offerings laid on it after which it has been heated up by the fire woods, it has to be the best of the best that should be placed and offered up to God.

It should not be the least; or our convenient ‘offerable’ offerings. For instance, many would forfeit Fasting and Prayer for meeting up to Pastors for certain needs. That is to say, many would rather have the Spiritual Leaders do their work for them as it is indeed a hard work that requires the Grace of God. Many indulge in this act and fall victim to the traps of the enemy and have the guts to point fingers at God. Ridiculous! The fire in the Altars of our lives is to be kept burning! It is not an option if we must truly serve God. It is a must! Engage in an intentional service plan for God. If you are in Church, join the workforce. In your personal time with God, create your personal altar. It could be the time you seek God. Probably, you didn't have one before, but now, create one! It could be early in the morning before everyone is up and before you begin with the day’s activities. Put God first! And there is a reason; “For God is a consuming fire!”

Another aspect of Burning Altars as depicted in the anchor scripture above is the presence of FIRE. Observing the use of the word fire, one would understand that it was used twice in that verse. This raises the question: “What is Fire?” In the general viewpoint, fire is one of the four elements of nature which burns every and anything that comes in its way. In this context, however, fire refers to the burning passion of the Christian Believer towards the Kingdom of God. It is that sweet burning incense that is acceptable before the Lord. In other words, “The fire [love of God, the intense passion for God’s work, the zeal] on the altar must be kept burning…” The zeal must not go out! The love of God in our lives must not go out! The Glory of the Latter house must be greater than the former!

There is something alarming about the Word of God here; and that is the use of the Word “must.” According to English studies, must is an auxiliary of prediction, which originates from an Old English word 'moste'. It is an affirmative verb which instructs “that which has to be done, seen, or experienced.” Now, bringing it home, “The fire on the altar has to be kept burning;” Noting the use of the semicolon, the semicolon is used in English Language to separate two independent clauses that are closely related in thought or, that both denote near meanings. Likewise, in the scripture above, there is the need to put a demarcation between those clauses as they both have separate instructions. The former gives the instruction and the latter gives how to obey the instruction. “…it must not go out. Every morning the Priest is to add fire woods and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it.”

In the eagerness to do the Will of God, anyone can miss it. There is a flowing torrent of instructions already laid down. From the instruction to keep the fire burning to the instruction of adding firewood daily, anybody might miss the purpose of the consecration of the altar; which is the reverence and honor offered up to God in the end. Thus, the Bible reads, “…and arrange the burnt offering.” There is a need that the Altar and the offering are arranged and presented in an orderly manner. This God to whom this offering is offered to is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is the Omnipotent God. The El Shaddai and Elohim. The One who has the ability to raise the dead. The One who gave Himself up for us on the Cross; therefore, it is expedient that He is given the utmost presentation. Presentation matters a lot in our relationship with God.

This arrangement can be referred to the way we enter into the Presence of God in this dispensation. When we want to pray, what do we do? Do we go on our knees in reverence to God or do we stand poised up in self-confidence to talk to God? This is a personal question because God's relationship with everyone is unique and very personal. There must be a method of arrangement that the Lord has instructed us as His worshippers each time we want to seek Him. In the Church, we have Doctrines which are personal to the Church based on the personal encounter with God. In our personal/individual lives, it could be issues like covering of head, or going on your knees, or in whatever manner He communicates to us. However, the arrangement is not far-fetched as Jesus already made it clear to us in the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” – Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

It is however important to note that this arrangement is what becomes the outcome of our worship at the Altar. It is the smoke generated from the Burning Altar. It is addictive. When we begin with praising God; and then speaking in tongues, these things are the fire wood. When we begin speaking God’s Words over our life, over our daily bread, over our situation, a large smoke is perceived in the Heavens; which in turns moves God to act to show how pleased He is in our offerings.  

In conclusion, Burning Altars is the heartbeat of God. When God looks at earth, He desires to see burning altars everywhere. He expects to see the passion of Christ. He expects to see Burning Hearts. Little wonders He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus to make this a reality. And today, we can burn as long as we obey His guiding instruction in the Book of Leviticus Chapter Six verse Twelve. Glory to God! Hallelujah!

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