Don’t Let the Fire go out by Aliceson Enonchong


Don’t Let the Fire go out by Aliceson Enonchong

Leviticus 6:12, NIVUK “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”   

Chapter One

It was early in the morning; the golden rays of the sun cast a rosy hue across the sky. Aaron awoke to the sound of the birds chirping and stretched as he looked out of his tent. “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” whispered he in his heart. He kissed his wife, Elisheba, on her cheek and rose from his mat. After briefly surveying his sleeping sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, he thanked the Lord and set out to wash himself. Aaron put on his linen undergarments and linen clothes, and then headed for the Mizbeah (altar) of Elohim. The camp was quiet as he walked through it, passing sleeping Israelites in their tents, at peace and under the safety of Elshaddai in this wilderness. When he arrived at the altar, the fire for the burnt offering was roaring beautifully, an indication of the presence of Yahweh with them, and He bowed His head in reverence. He then proceeded to do what He did every morning since the Lord gave the instruction to Moses; he removed the ashes of the burnt offering he sacrificed the day before and placed them beside the altar. Then he changed his clothes, carried the ashes outside the camp and disposed of them. When he was done, Aaron added firewood to the flame on the altar to ensure that the fire did not go out, and he sacrificed the burnt offering and the fat of the fellowship offering. He stood in awe of Yahweh once more as the flame consumed the offering, then he left the Mizbeah. 

As he was returning to his tent, murmurs of “Shalom aleykhem (peace be upon you)” could be heard throughout the camp as the Israelites begun their day. Nearing his camp, he saw his eldest son Nadab outside, cleaning the hide from an animal he had hunted. 

“Shalom aleykhem Aba (peace be upon you father),” greeted Nadab as he saw his father approach. 

Aaron grunted a reply and stepped into his tent. Nadab watched the retreating figure of his father and felt a sort of bitterness in his heart. He felt he had lost his father to “Yahweh”, it was always about the altar, the commandments, doing this and not eating that, he was fed up. He looked around at other families and wished his father would be as caring to their family. Shutting the thoughts out, he decided to focus on preparing their meal before his Eema (mother) scolded him. 

In the afternoon, when the sun was at its fiercest glare, Aaron called together his sons and read to them from the Torah (the Law of Moses). After he was done reading, he looked up and noted the bored looks on his sons’ faces, especially his eldest. 

“Soon you will have to take over me in my priestly duties and for you to be effective you need to keep this Torah in your hearts always,” he paused to make sure they were listening. Then he continued, “Yahweh has placed this call upon our family’s shoulders, we are privileged to serve Him and be the mediators between Him and the people. This is not to be taken lightly. Have you understood?” 

“Yes Aba.” 

Then Aaron went out in search of Moses. 

“The Torah is so long, how will we ever be able to keep it in our heads, talk less of in our hearts?!” Abihu sighed.

“God who called us will help us remember. He helps Aba remember,” defended Eleazar as he prepared to leave their gathering. 

“Of course you’ll say that. You’re Aba’s favorite child,” Nadab retorted. 

Eleazar just shook his head at his brother’s bitterness and left. Ithamar followed soon after. Abihu lay on his mat for an afternoon nap. However, Nadab could not rest. A storm was brewing in his mind, a battle was raging in his heart, and very slowly, evil was winning that battle.   

Chapter Two

The next morning, Aaron woke up and began his morning routine. As he was about to leave the tent, Nadab called him. 

“Aba. Shalom aleykhem”

“Shalom. What is the matter?”
“May I accompany you to the Mizbeah today?”
“Alright. But you will watch what I’m doing from a distance.” 

“Yes, Aba.”
Nadab rapidly got ready and followed his Aba to the Mizbeah. He did not really care about the Mizbeah, Yahweh, or any of that, he found Yahweh very intimidating anyways. He just wanted to see what was so special about the Mizbeah that his Aba devoted more time to it than he did to his family. 

When they reached the Mizbeah, Aaron followed the daily instructions and tended to the flame and burnt offering while Nadab watched from a distance. 

“So this is it,” he thought. “Our Aba prefers some stupid firewood over us, his flesh and blood.”
When his Aba was done, he started heading back to the camp. 

“Aba, I have a question.”
Aaron’s silence meant he was listening.
“Why do you tend to that fire day and night?”
“It is the presence of Yahweh, son. It must never go out or else the protection of Yahweh will depart from our people.” 

“But is Yahweh so weak that he depends on firewood and some meat to protect us? If so, then why is he called Almighty? I think this is pointless and-”
“You shall never speak ill of the Lord our God! Do you understand me?” Aaron scolded. 

“Yes Aba,” Nadab grumbled.
The rest of the walk back home was filled with silence. Nadab did not know if the silence meant he had angered his Aba, for his Aba was a man of few words, even to his Eema. 

As soon as they got to their tent, Nadab picked up his tools and set out to hunt. “Shalom aleykhem Nadab. Why is our face so sour? This is the day that the Lo-” Nadab’s friend, Shimar, greeted him but was rudely interrupted. 

“Spare my ears Shimar. Shalom,” Nadab increased his pace and did not slow down until he was deep in the forest. Then he looked for a suitable spot on the ground, sat down and leaned against a tree. His thoughts were frightening him, the battle raging stronger each day. He could not stop himself from thinking “Why is ‘Yahweh’ taking our Aba from us?” From the time he was a kid he had been hearing stories of how powerful ‘Yahweh’ is, how he split seas and broke down walls, so he wondered why a ‘god’ who had everything still wanted the one thing Nadab wished for so much; his aba’s love and time. Nadab was tired of his Aba’s silences because he was meditating on the Torah, tired of his prolonged absences because he was serving at the Mizbeah or fasting for the people. Nadab was pissed at the fact that he did not seem to have a say in whether or not he will become priest after his Aba. He just wanted to have a normal life with an Aba who cared for him. He put his head between his hands and sighed. 

“You have a choice. I have always given you a choice. I just want you to make the right one,” a soft voice whispered to Nadab, but with the turmoil in his mind, he did not pay heed to it.

After minutes of thinking, Nadab suddenly raised his head and smiled.  
“I know what to do to get Aba back.”  

Chapter Three

Nadab tossed and turned in anticipation of what he was going to do. He knew he had to wait for everyone in the camp to be asleep first, but anxiety was eating him up. When everywhere was dead silent and he could hear nothing but snores, Nadab left the tent with determination to fulfil the mission in his heart. 

“There it is. The thing keeping my Aba from me,” he stared with contempt and hatred at the fire burning on the Mizbeah.

“I will put an end to this and finally have my Aba back.”  

So he took a step closer, ignoring the sense of doom lurking in his mind, and scattered the flame at the Mizbeah, one by one, till there was nothing but darkness and the moonlight. Nadab closed his eyes and waited, for thunder or something to show he had defiled the ‘Mighty Yahweh’. When nothing happened, he laughed and threw the shard of firewood he had in his hands unto the ground, stepped on it and returned to his tent with a satisfied smile. 


“Ahhhhhhhhh,” a shrill scream broke through the quiet morning air. Aaron immediately arose and went outside his tent to see what was happening. His heart dropped when he saw it: multiple corpses outside their tents, dragged outside and devoured by wild animals. Aaron looked up to the sky and knew something was wrong. Someone had committed a great sin against Yahweh, and he resolved to meet Moses for answers. But first, he remembered, he had to tend to the flame on the Mizbeah.

He hurriedly washed himself, put on his priestly garments, and hurried through heaps of corpses and wailing families to the Mizbeah. As he arrived, his heart dropped even further and Aaron felt faint. He felt himself getting dizzy as Yahweh’s instruction replayed in his mind, “Do not let the fire go out.” But it was too late, someone had scattered the fire on the Mizbeah, someone had disobeyed Yahweh and soon they will all pay the consequences. Tears ran down his eyes in fear and tiredness. Would this people never learn? He was exhausted by the Israelites’ constant disobedience to God. They were so strong headed and because of this, their numbers kept reducing and they kept going in circles in this wilderness. Taking deep breaths to steady himself, Aaron decided it was not time to lament. He had to find out who did this, and fast. So he ran to Moses’ tent. 

“Moses, something terrible has happened.” 

“I know, someone has put out the flame of Yahweh and His presence has departed from us. We are no longer under His protection,” Moses sighed and rubbed his temples.
“What shall we do?” 

“Go out and gather the people.  Let them know the situation, and insist that the perpetuator should own up. I will stay in and intercede.” When he finished speaking, Moses turned his face to the wall and immediately went on his knees. 

Aaron wasted no time in following Moses’ instructions. He had the strong men gather the people of Israel and stood before the crowd of fearful and confused Israelites.  

Raising his staff, he said, “People of Israel! Descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Our forefathers lived by obedience to Yahweh and they prospered in the land of the living. But we have been as stubborn as mules and we keep disobeying Him, and no matter the consequences we still refuse to change!” He paused and surveyed the now-silent crowd. His children were at the back, but one was missing. 

“We have seen for ourselves the chaos and doom that comes with disobedience. Our people are dead, killed by wild animals that never bothered us before! Because somebody disobeyed Yahweh’s instructions and put out the fire at the Mizbeah!” 

Surprised gasps and murmurs could be heard all through the crowd. Aaron raised his staff again, “Our leader Moses is interceding for us, but this must be resolved first; let the person who put out the flame own up, lest the Lord reveals him to us.” 

Silence fell on the crowd. Gazes and stares were passed across but not a word was uttered. “I repeat, who put the flame out? If you do not own up now, the Lord will reveal you to us, and it will not be in a pleasant manner.” He looked around the crowd. No one said anything still. 

“Very well then. Before dusk we shall know who it is that went against the Elohim’s instructions. And he/she will suffer grave consequences.” With these words, Aaron departed from the crowd.                   

Chapter Four

“Has Yahweh told you anything yet?” Aaron asked Moses as he was entering the tent. 

“Let us return to the crowd.” Moses picked up his staff and went to the place where the Israelites were gathered. When they saw him approaching, the crowd quieted in anticipation of the word Moses had for them. 

“O Israel, nation of the Lord, chosen people of Adonai! Hear the Word of Yahweh this day, ‘You have not paid heed to my command. You have let pride and greed fill your heart, and now My presence has departed from your people. However, for the sake of My servant Moses, I shall be merciful and punish only the one who has done this. At evening time, before the crow of a cock, you who have committed this act against Me shall be afflicted with sores so painful and you shall confess your sin in the presence of everyone. Then wild animals shall devour what is left of you, but your body will not be laid to rest until the next day. It shall be left open for all to see what happens to those who defy Adonai. Unless you confess your sin, all things I have said shall come to pass. I, the Lord, has spoken.’  

Before the dusk, let he who has sinned against the Lord and His people come to the Mizbeah, or doom shall befall him.” With these words, Moses left the parting crowd.  

Meanwhile, Nadab had run from the camp in the morning when he saw the carcasses of those devoured by animals. He hid in the forest, his heart beating so fast and loud that he feared it could be heard from the camp. What have I done! He covered his face with his palms and wept profusely. 

“I just wanted my Aba’s affection. I did not mean for any of this to happen. If I knew Yahweh was truly a powerful God, I would never have done that.”  

Confess thy sins and ye shall be forgiven, Nadab heard a voice whisper to him.

“Confess?! So that I should be punished before the whole camp? Certainly not! I will run away, to a far off town. Then it will be like none of these ever happened. First, I just need to build a new fire at the Mizbeah so Yahweh would return.” Satisfied with his plan, Nadab ran back to the camp. He checked their tent and was relieved to find no one there. They were all at the gathering his Aba and leader Moses had summoned. He did not have the courage to face all those people, he felt they would see right through him. He hurriedly packed his belongings in a bag and left the tent. Taking a route furthest from where the Israelites were gathered, he went to the Mizbeah. He immediately got to work, fetching firewood and arranging it on the Mizbeah. When he was done, he tried igniting a fire but nothing happened. He tried again. When nothing happened still, he tried a third time. 

“Ah!” he screamed in pain. It felt like his hands were on fire. When he looked at them, he noticed he had sores on both palms. 

“All because I wanted to ignite this stupid fire.” He grumbled and threw the stones he was using to ignite the fire. He picked up his bag, and after tying pieces of cloth around his wounds, he set out to escape the camp.  


Aaron sat outside Moses’ tent as the latter continued praying. He could not help but wonder who put the fire out. As he was lost in thoughts, he suddenly remembered his sons. It was getting to evening and he needed to be sure they were all alright. So he returned to the place where the Israelites were gathered, as most did not want to return to their tents out of fear, and he sighted his family. Exhaling a breath of relief and saying a quick prayer of thanksgiving to Yahweh, he went to them.  

“Elisheba. I am glad you are fine and the sons too,” Aaron said, embracing his wife. Then he turned to his sons and noticed one was still missing. 

“Where is your brother?” 

“We do not know, Aba. We have not seen him since the dawn of the-” Eleazar started answering his Aba but was interrupted by the sight before him. The whole crowd had gone dead silent and they all looked in one direction. Aaron turned to see why the chatter had stopped and his heart skipped a beat. There, in the middle of the gathered Israelites, was Nadab, his eldest son, his first fruit, covered in sores that seemed painful even to the onlooker. Out of them oozed pus and blood, and his son looked so weak as he fell to the ground. 

“I am sorry Aba, please help me,” Nadab croaked as he no longer had the strength to speak. 

“What have you done Nadab? What have you done! Look at what you have brought upon yourself and your people!” Aaron could barely hold in his anger and sorrow. A tear ran down his cheek as he watched his son agonize in pain. He knew there was nothing he could do, Yahweh had spoken and his word was final. But that did not lessen the heavy weight in his heart. 

“Forgive me Aba. I have sinned against you and Yahweh. I only wanted your love, but I went about it the wrong way. If only I had paid heed to the words of Yahweh cautioning me, I would not have been laying here, waiting for death to carry me. I am sorry Aba.” Nadab struggled to speak, using every ounce of energy left in his body. 

“I have always loved you, son. You did not need to do anything for me to love you. I have to focus on my priestly duties but I care so deeply about all of you. I love you, my son, and I forgive you.” 

When Nadab heard these words, he smiled a satisfied smile and breathed his last. The camp was so silent that a pin could be heard falling. Aaron fell to his knees and wept. Elisheba and her three sons wailed. Soon enough, all the Israelites had tears in their eyes and some were weeping and wailing. Moses, who had been watching everything, offered comfort to Aaron.  

“All shall be well, my friend. He shall be buried at dusk tomorrow, according to the word of Yahweh. Stand up and let us return to your tent. You shall soon mourn your son properly.” 

When this happened, the fire at the Mizbeah ignited on its own, and the presence of Yahweh returned to be with the Israelites. 

The next day at dawn, Aaron went about his priestly duty and tended to the flame at the Mizbeah. When he was done, he fell to his knees and whispered to Yahweh, “Help me accept what has happened.” 

At dusk that day, he buried his son and took off his garments. He put on sackcloth and rubbed ashes on his head. Then he mourned his son. 


Author’s Note

In modern times, we do not have physical altars nor do we burn offerings for our sins anymore, Christ already did that. But the altar represents our hearts and the flame represents the presence of the Lord in us and our zeal for Him. Every time we spend time with God, we rekindle the flames and ensure it doesn’t go out. But what happens when, like Nadab, we defy God’s command not to let the fire go out? We drift from His presence, lose our zeal for Him and are left vulnerable for the enemy to do with us as he pleases.  

So even now, make the decision every day to never let the fire go out.   


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  1. This is a awesome revelation of the Word of God, grace and strength to keep the fire of your altar burning


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