“In this way, the fire on the altar will be kept burning and not be allowed to go out. Each morning, the cohen is to kindle wood on it, arrange the burnt offering and make the fat of the peace offerings go up in smoke. Fire is to be kept burning on the altar continually; it is not to go out.”-Leviticus 6:5-6
One of the most interesting and mysterious aspects of Leviticus Chapter 6 is the instruction to never let the Brazen Altar fire go out.
Why is this so important?
Well, over the centuries there have been countless theories brought forth by both Jew and Gentile scholars.
As we’re never given a specific reason why, sometimes I think it is best to just leave some Biblical mysteries a mystery.
However, having said that, there is one perspective that Calvin promoted which carries with it some degree of plausibility.
What Calvin pointed out is that the fire on the Brazen Altar WAS ORIGINALLY LIT BY THE LORD HIMSELF.
It was fire that proceeded from heaven.
Hence, as long as this this original fire from the Lord never went out, as long as it was kept stoked, any fire coming from this original divine fire was to be considered holy.
Right here, an important Godly principle is established.
And that principle is that whatever is taken from, or is joined to, the divinely holy, itself becomes holy.
The Apostle Paul also reinforced this concept when he said the following:
Now if the hallah offered
as firstfruits is holy,
so is the whole loaf.
And if the root is holy,
so are the branches.
Unfortunately, this original fire that came from the heavens did go out, and the Lord had to a second time relight the fire of the Brazen Altar.
This occurred when Solomon built the first Temple to replace the Tabernacle.
At that time, a new and even bigger Brazen Altar was constructed.
Here are the verses from 2 Chronicles 7 that depict this awesome event.
When Shlomo had finished praying,
fire came down from heaven and
consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices;
and the glory of Adonai filled the house,
so that the cohanim could not enter the house of Adonai;
because the glory of Adonai filled Adonai’s house.
All the people of Isra’el saw when the fire came down,
and the glory of Adonai was on the house;
they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the flooring;
prostrating themselves, they gave thanks to Adonai,
“for he is good, for his grace continues forever.”
-2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Here’s what’s important to understand.
Without the Lord lighting up the Brazen Altar with His Holy Fire from heaven, atonement could NOT have been accomplished at the Brazen Altar.
It would have just been a huge BBQ pit.
Since we are given the command to never let this particular fire at the Altar go out, we know there is something special about it.
In some way God’s presence and pure holiness were connected to the Brazen Altar’s fire.
Basically, what I think it comes down to is that without blood and without the Lord’s Holy Fire to burn it up, atonement for man’s sins is simply not possible because manmade fire was unacceptable.
The coals used for the Altar of Incense inside the Tabernacle also had to come from the coals produced in the Brazen Altar.
Therefore, if the Brazen Altar fire was quenched, there went the priests’ ability to offer up incense to HASHEM.
So now I think you can understand that the Leviticus Priesthood’s most important, most sacred duty was to make sure that under no circumstances whatsoever was the Altar fire ever to go out.
Finally, understand that when all of the New Testament was written, the Temple was still standing.
This means that with the exception of some of the later writings of John, all of these Levitical rituals were still being performed when the NT authors were still alive.
Actually, let me rephrase.
The New Testament writers would have participated in these Levitical rituals since their early childhood AND CONTINUED TO PARTICIPATE IN THEM EVEN AFTER YESHUA.
The point is that many of the analogies and illustrations provided by the New Testament writers are directly referring to some of the Levitical rituals we are studying here.
For example, look at this famous verse from the Apostle Paul:
“Do not quench the Spirit.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:19
Paul was using the analogy of not quenching the fire of the Brazen Altar.
What he was saying is that because of Yeshua’s sacrifice, the Spirit of God now residing in every believer represents the holy fire that burned on the Brazen Altar.
Just as there was no means to replace the Brazen Altar fire if it was extinguished, so too is there no way to replace the Holy Spirit “fire” residing in us if it is completely extinguished.
Hence, Paul’s warning to “not quench the spirit”.