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 thereof the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out (Leviticus 6:12-13).
And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart (Jeremiah 24:7).
Fire and the altar represent very important concepts in Scripture. The altar is representative of the cross and sacrifice. The fire represents the presence of God. Sacrifice and God’s presence are always connected with one another.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” God commanded that the fire be kept burning on the altar continually. Wood was consistently added. Never ceasing worship of God keeps the fire burning in our lives. In other words, as we worship Him continually, His presence remains real to us.
We must remember that our worship must be more than words. In Matthew 15:8, Jesus said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” We must put our hearts into our worship. This is how we really get to know Him.
Jeremiah 24:7 makes it clear that God has given us hearts that are capable of knowing Him. The Lord knocks; it is up to us to open the door. We open our hearts to Him — then He comes in to make His presence known. Romans 12:1 says we are to present ourselves upon the altar as a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Him. This is done continually so that the presence of God is manifested in our lives. Wonderful things happen when we truly put ourselves on the altar. Notice the words of Isaiah 6:1-8:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Here are the things that occur when we place ourselves upon the altar and keep the fire burning:
- His presence fills our lives.
- We stand in awe of His holiness.
- We recognize our own sinfulness.
- Acknowledged and confessed sin is purged and taken away by the fire of God’s
- We are ready to go to work for the Lord.
As God’s people, we need to remember the significance of the fire on the altar. When our offering is available, the fire keeps burning. His presence is manifested in our lives.
Dave Snyder is an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God – Cleveland, Tennessee. Before entering the ministry on a full-time basis, he was a school teacher. He also coached middle school basketball for eight years.
Dave and his wife, Sara, have two children — Craig and Karen. They also have one ten year old granddaughter — Breanna.
Dave and Sara pastored in West Virginia for thirty-six years. Sara is now retired from the banking industry, and Dave is retired from pastoring. However, Dave currently serves as prison Chaplain for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Writing essays, articles, and devotionals is a real passion for Dave. He also enjoys playing musical instruments and singing.