Over the last few months, I have been sharing some brief reflections on the book of Leviticus. This is a reflection on the ninth chapter.
“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
King Saul had grown jealous of David and was out to kill him. Seeking protection, David fled to Samuel and all the other prophets in Ramah and stayed with them. When Saul found out where he was, he sent messengers to seize David. But when the messengers arrived, the prophets prophesied and the Spirit came down from heaven and the messengers joined the prophets in prophesying! Saul sent more and more messengers, and each time the same thing happened. Eventually Saul himself came to Ramah, but the Spirit came upon him so mightily that he stripped off all his clothes in the presence of God and prophesied before Samuel!
Did you notice how the Spirit of God acted powerfully to preserve the life of David through prophetic worship? When the fire of the Spirit falls from heaven and consumes us, we become a fragrant offering, acceptable to God. Through this worship, God protects his people, establishes his presence amongst them and renews his covenant with them.
This was the purpose of sacrificial worship. Sin offerings were a confession of weakness and burnt offerings were a symbolic way of ascending into God’s presence. When God accepted the offering by holy fire, he was sanctifying the worship by his own Spirit, showing that he accepted it and publicly committing himself to his people. And now, in the new covenant, God has given his Spirit to each of us individually. In Christ, we are all prophets and we are all living sacrifices to God, through the Spirit who sets us apart for his glory.