Daily Reading: Leviticus 8, 9; Matthew 27:1-26
Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:24, NASB95)
The tabernacle was the place where God’s presence would dwell with His people. God did not want to dwell in wrath against the people; therefore, the Levites were to mediate between God and the people, offering the sacrifices on their behalf. This provided atonement so that God didn’t need to bring judgment, but peace. The priests, Aaron and his sons, have been ordained for service to the Lord in the tabernacle.
- When Moses completed the work of the tabernacle according to all that God had commanded, the glory of the Lord filled it (Ex. 40:34-37). In this instance where fire consumes the sacrifices, it reveals that God accepts their offering, atonement has been made, and the priests may minister before the Lord on behalf of the people. In a similar manner, when the temple is dedicated, fire consumes the sacrifices and God’s glory fills it (2 Chron. 7:1-3).
- This is the first instance that God’s glory appears to all the people (Lev. 9:23). The people experience greater intimacy and presence than they did before on Mount Sinai (Exod. 24:17), closer to what Moses experienced (Exod. 24:16).
- Although they have been accepted by the Lord, this doesn’t mean they can behave however they want. They must follow God’s commands. He may only be worshiped in His way. In Leviticus 10, Aaron’s two sons Nadab and Abihu, who had just been ordained as priests before the Lord, offered strange fire, which He had not commanded. Instead of fire consuming the sacrifices, fire consumes them (Lev. 10:1-2). God must be treated as holy, or judgment will result.
In the New Testament, we have the perfect sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. After His resurrection, Jesus has poured out the Spirit of God upon His people that we might walk in His presence. However, God is no less holy today than He was in Leviticus. Ananias and Sapphira stand out as examples of those who treated God’s presence with contempt, testing the Spirit of the Lord (Acts 5:9). They too died because they did not walk in God’s ways (Acts 5:3). What an awesome privilege to walk with God in peace. However, we must get rid of hypocrisy and worship Him in Spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:21-24). Are you living your life in His way, according to His commands? Do you walk with reverence and awe before our holy God, who has made a way for us?