Scripture: And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:24 ESV
Observation: Yahweh, having instructed Moses regarding the observance of the five primary offerings, further elaborates on the priests’ wardrobe and their priestly offerings (6:8-7:38) and then instructs Moses to anoint the altar and Aaron and his sons (chapter 8). In chapter 9, Moses summons Aaron, his sons, and the elders and outlines the ceremony, including sin, burnt, and peace offerings to the Lord. Aaron follows the script, which consists of him blessing the people. Yahweh then reveals his glory (kabod) to Israel with fire that consumes the burnt offering and confirms his approval of the animal sacrifice. Appropriately, the people respond with enthusiasm (shouting) and fear (falling on their faces) to this climactic display of power (above verse).
Takeaway: While the supernatural fire from heaven initially invoked awe and wonder, Yahweh’s display of might over the natural order would also rightfully provoke reverent fear. Keeping this solemn occasion in focus and memorable, the bull of the burnt offering would continue to display flames for many hours as earlier instructions required the burnt offering to remain on the altar until morning while the priests maintained the fire (6:9). And the ongoing altar fire, located in the courtyard of the tabernacle, would harken this momentous miracle’s sight, sound, and scent, reminding future generations that God accepted them as his people: set apart to be holy as he is holy.
What does this mean for you and me? Created with five senses to better apprehend an awareness of our Creator and his world, he continues to provoke our minds to make us aware of his presence by utilizing our sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Through these receptors, he also invokes feelings that inspire. Whether we gaze at a sunset, listen to a dramatic orchestral piece, or hug a newborn, our senses point us to our Creator and inspire awe and wonder. And sometimes, they tell us how fragile and sinful we are, thus moving us from upright in shouts of praise to prostrate in fear. But there is always an outcome of restoration and renewal. Whether rerouting Israel, reinstating Peter, or radically redirecting Paul, our Lord draws on our senses to help us remember that we worship a great God who keeps restoring and renewing.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the gift of our senses that help us discern your presence, your nature, and your will. Would you please help us fully utilize them to cooperate with your Holy Spirit in the sanctifying work of restoration and renewal that we might joyfully and reverently obey and glorify you? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling