John Phillips Ministries

The Ashes and the Fire

m2t on Sep 19, 2016

The first seven chapters of Leviticus are concerned with the various offerings the Hebrew people were to bring to God. The details were given meticulously, and more and more requirements were added. We tend to read these chapters with varying degrees of bewilderment and impatience, for all these ritual requirements belong to the long, long ago. Why would we be concerned with them now? They are obsolete. Calvary and Pentecost have swept them away. Besides, the meaning of all these things escapes us. Even the Jews themselves would be hard pressed to interpret the true meaning of all these rituals and rules.

Maybe so, but they are evidently of great interest to God. He inspired the writing down of all these details. These verses are as much "God-breathed" as our favorite New Testament texts. Indeed, god was not content with writing it all down once—burnt offering, meal offering, peace offering, sin offering, trespass offering. When He had finished, He went back over the same ground, adding fresh details in the form of sundry "laws"---the law of the burnt offering, the law of the sin offering, and so on. He delights in every detail for, one and all; the offerings speak of Christ in His flawless life and atoning death.

The law of the burnt offering was concerned with two added details, with the fire and with the ashes. The fire was to never go out. That reminds us that God's wrath against sine is as fierce today as it was when it kindled the like of fire. The crime of Calvary has heated it seven times hotter than before. It will never go out. That is a terrible truth, but it is consistent with the holiness of God.

The law of the burnt offering was concerned also with the ashes. They were infinitely precious to God. After the fire had burned all night, consuming the burnt offering, the priest approached the brazen alter in fine linen. Reverently he collected the ashes and carried them outside the camp to a clean place.

The ashes remind us of a great truth. We can stir a smoldering fire and get sparks and blow upon the embers and bring back the fire and, with fresh fuel, again have roaring flames. But we can stir ashes forever and get nothing. There is nothing left to burn. This tells us that it is impossible to stir God's wrath against the believer. The sacrificial work of Christ is so complete, His substitutionary work so effective, that nothing can ever kindle God's wrath so far as we are concerned. That is consistent with the love of God. Neither His eternal wrath nor his end-time wrath can fall upon us. He has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Years ago a fire was sweeping across the prairie, driven by the wind. A man and his family stood in its path. The man kindled a fire at his feet. It took hold, and driven by the wind, burned out a swath of the grass. "Come and stand where the fire has been," the man said. The family did so, and the approaching holocaust passed them by. There was nothing left there to burn.

That is where the believer stands—where the fire has been. His salvation is assured.