A Consuming Fire

“Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2.

Too often both the Christian and those who reject Jesus misunderstand the entire nature of the phrase “an offering and a sacrifice to God”, perhaps even thinking, “Okay, He died on a cross, like thousands of others did.”

Yet gruesome as crucifixions were and horrific as the description of His death was, it is not as simple as that.

It all begins with the description of the burnt offering in Leviticus.

“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire: And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar: But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Leviticus 1:3-9, KJV.

Several things stand out upon reading this account. The first of the two most important things though is that, “he shall offer it of his own free will”.

God does not force anyone to follow Him. If you want to accept or reject Christ as your Savior you are free to do so. Men or the church are not to force a person to join; that is a false confession.

This was the great error of the church in the dark ages; people were forced to join the church, often under church or social pressure.

As a result many godless men and women became members of the church and often ended up in positions of authority turning it into a merciless killing machine making a mockery of the love of Jesus Christ.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, ‘”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” ‘This is first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:36-40.

This is a description of what Christ’s church is to teach, hardly leaving room for torture and murder, which defies His commandment.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ‘Amen.’” Matthew 28:19-20.

Atheists like to point to the Catholic Church as representative of Christianity, when it is godless men like these atheists who ran and destroyed the church during that time period.

The second important point made in Leviticus 1:4 above is that the willing individual “…shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him”.

This act of putting the hand on the head of the offering identifies the individual with his sacrifice.

The laying on of the hand is also an act of faith which, in effect, is saying that the sinner believes God’s promise that He will accept this as atonement for his sin.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the fulfillment of the picture of the sacrifices of old and when a person accepts Christ as his Savior that person is in effect putting his hand on the head of Jesus and identifying with His sacrifice and in faith receiving God’s promise that he has accepted Jesus Christ as a once and for all time payment for their sins.

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…” Hebrews 10:11-12.

Be advised that you are not asked to lay your hands on Jesus because He was a great prophet, or our example, or any of a number of other noble reasons.

You lay hands on Jesus in acceptance of the fact that you are a sinner deserving of eternal separation from God, death and hell, and that Christ is the payment in full of that debt to God.

The burnt offering was slain, skinned, completely laying open the inner man both body and soul, and then flayed, completely destroying the inner man to the point of eviscerating and dismembering joints and limbs and head, and finally burning to ashes all of the sacrifice on the brazen altar.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him [Jesus]; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin…” Isaiah 53:10a.

The burnt offering in this case was fortunate enough to have a quick death; Jesus endured all of these things while He was still alive. His body endured much destruction from the abuse of both Herod’s and Pilate’s soldiers, He was scourged, and then nailed to the cross at 9 am.

Yet the complete destruction of the sacrifice was not accomplished until darkness covered the land from noon to three in the afternoon when Jesus’ soul was consumed by the wrath of God; it was at three that the Lord cried out.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34b.

Psalm 22 describes the Lord as a sin offering; if you have read the four gospels, some of the following words, written almost a thousand years before Jesus’ crucifixion will sound familiar.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.” Psalm 22:1-2.

“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All those who see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” Psalm 22:6-8

“Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, as a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of Joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Psalm 22:12-18.

Concerning the sacrifice of the Christ, Isaiah prophesied this, circa 700 B.C. The Servant of the Lord here is Jesus Himself.

“Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.” Isaiah 52:13-15.

“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for out transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked – but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Isaiah 53:1-10.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The following is an event that will take place in the future, but I would like to use it to illustrate God’s judgment of sin.

The Ancient of Days referred to here is God the Father; this can be seen by the fact that the Lord Jesus, as the Son of Man, is brought before Him later in the chapter.

“I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10.

God’s garment is described as white as snow, indicating His pure holiness, righteousness, and justice; the white hair suggests maturity and infinite wisdom.

The fiery throne and burning wheels are judgment, fierce, thorough, and inevitable judgment against sinners.

It is the fiery stream that issues forth from the throne that I want you to focus on; if you have seen lava flows in documentaries or in real life then you may have a good visual image of this flow of fire.

Jesus was plunged into this molten river of fire for you and for me, so we will not have to endure the fire for eternity.

“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15.

“For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29.

And He will consume and burn away all sin, evil, lies, and this corrupted world we live in.

“…the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…” 2 Peter 3:10b-11.

“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains: Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
“There Is a Fountain”, by William Cowper.

What irony, Jesus was plunged into a fiery stream so that whosoever will may come and be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

“1. Lord, thy love has sought and found us wandering in this desert wide, thou hast thrown thine arms around us, for us suffered, bled, and died: sing, my soul, He loved thee, Jesus gave Himself for me. 4. Then that closing scene of anguish; all God’s waves and billows roll over Him; there left to languish on the cross, to save my soul. Matchless love! How vast! How free! Jesus gave Himself for me. 5. Hark again! His cries are waking echoes on dark Calvary’s hill; God, My God, art thou forsaking Him who always did thy will? Ah, my soul, it was for thee; yes, He gave Himself for me.”
“Jesus Gave Himself for Me”, Wm. B. Bradbury.

A Consuming Fire taken from godisrevealed.com updated on 2-23-19, reposted on 2-26-22.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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