READ: Leviticus 6:8-13
‘Burnt offerings” – Priestly instructions.
The rest of chapter 6 and all of chapter 7 complete the instructions regarding the offerings. Yes, we’ve already read about all of these but this time they are approached from the perspective of the priests. Previously the instructions related to how the offering was supposed to be brought and the general steps of making the offering; now the instructions relate to how the priest was to prepare and process each of the offerings.
First, notice the specific steps the priest was to take in vs. 10-11. After the offering had been burnt, the priest, who was dressed in his white linen priestly garments, was to take the ashes off the altar and place them beside the altar. Then, this is especially important, he was to change his clothes and take the ashes outside the camp and place them in a ‘clean’ place. The priest’s white linen garments were holy and ‘sanctified’; they had been set apart for use only in the tabernacle/temple and could not be used for anything else. That is a good illustration of part of the meaning taught by holiness and sanctification – something that is set apart, distinguished and used for a special purpose.
The other thing you must notice, a repeated emphasis of this passage is that the altar’s fire had to be kept burning (vs. 9, 12, 13). Jewish tradition states that the fire that comes down from God (Lev 9:34) was kept burning on the temple altar. There are a number of suggestions as to why this was supposed to be a continual fire that never went out – generally they relate to the idea that it reminds the people that God is always present and they are always in need of atonement. I love what Charles Wesley wrote in one of his hymns.
O thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze
And trembling to its source return
In humble prayer and fervent praise.
I think that is a great point to ponder and prayer to pray for this day!