Burning Fire on the Altar of Worship

23 Jan

In my last blog, I stated the first mention of fire in the scripture protected the Tree of Life—or perhaps we can understand it as protecting man from himself by keeping him from that tree. This blog describes an earlier fire seen by inference instead of by name, but it stands as a core element of God’s message from the beginning to the end. The fire of sacrifice brings us near to the last fire.

Peeling Back the Layers

As we look back through the pages of history, burnt sacrifices surface as part of religious ceremony in many nations and cultures. While ordered by God’s law given to Moses, Israel cannot claim exclusionary practice (think of Elijah and the contest with the prophets of Baal). So where did it all begin and spread throughout the world?

We know Moses records God’s instruction in the Law, but Genesis records the practice in place long before the first Passover. Abraham in obedience to God’s command took his son Isaac to the mountain to there sacrifice him to God as a burnt sacrifice. Before Isaac’s birth, Abram made a sacrifice to the Lord because of the promise given him. God sealed the promise as a flaming torch passing between the animal halves, burning up the sacrifice (Genesis 15).

Burnt sacrifices, however, predates Abraham by hundreds of years. In Genesis 8, Noah and his family exited the ark. His first act was to build an altar to make a sacrifice in worship and thanksgiving for what the Lord had done in preserving their lives.

And before Noah, the first detailed account of a sacrifice in worship is in Genesis 4. There we read that Cain and Abel brought their offerings to sacrifice. God accepted/approved Abel’s but rejected Cain’s offering. Anyone not know how that ended? Could God bring judgment for or against any expression of honor or worship without a standard already being set? If it had been set, when would that have been?

The Earliest

Right after the fall in Genesis chapter three, God made clothing out of animal skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (the physical evidence of their sin). Expand that in your minds. God killed an animal (probably two—one for each of them) to cover their nakedness. The first sacrifice for sin. We’re not told what animal he chose, but in keeping with the rest of scripture, I suggest it was a lamb. Remember, Abel’s accepted sacrifice was a first-born lamb. I don’t think it is a stretch to assume God instructed Adam and Eve about continuing the sacrifice as a repetitious reminder of their fall, their need, and God’s promise and provision. Their obedience served as training for Cain and Abel who then continued the practice on their own.

Being the first mention of fire in the Scripture has significance when we consider it as God’s priority. While we might first think of judgment and death, God thought of turning the heart of mankind back to himself. When wronged, we might want heaven’s fire to rain down on the one who hurt us, but God wants a fire in the person’s heart to restore that one to fellowship with him.

My Worship: Most Like Cain or Abel?

I often need to repent over my diluted worship. Like Cain, I bring to the Lord worship that goes through the motion without real meaning. I have walked out of church scoring the singing or the preached message. “The music really struck a cord with me today. I felt really moved by it.” Or, “Did you think the music was a little off today? That one song seemed to take us away from what I think the Lord was wanting to say.”

Are you ready for this? Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” True worship requires sacrifice. Daily we face choices to humble ourselves before the Lord or to try to force our ways. Letting the sacrifice fires touch our hearts in surrender to his will pleases the Father.

Open Up to Sacrifice Fires

Psalm 24:3-4a “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…”

All fires bring us here to this place.

One Response to “Burning Fire on the Altar of Worship”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. America in Bible Prophesy | Boosterclub Blog -

    […] Fire Type 2; Purification adds by taking away; When is a fiery trial not one?; Protected by fire; Burning fire on the altar of worship; The seventh glorious fire. Jesus’s blueprint blogs: Salt and light: if not us, who?; Broken […]

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