What does the Lord's fire consume?

Sun, 18/02/2007 - 09:55 -- James Oakley

Isn’t penal sub lovely.

Lev 9:24: “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.”

Aaron offers the prescribed sacrifices. God signifies his acceptance of the sacrifice by eating it – fire comes out and consumes the sacrifice.

Lev 10:1-2: “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”

Nadab and Abihu offer unauthorized sacrifices. God signifies his rejection of the sacrifice by not eating it.

But there is more. Fire still “comes out from before the Lord and consumes…” (the same phrase). It is not just that the Lord’s fire does not consume the sacrifice. It consumes Nadab and Abihu instead.

When a man offers a sacrifice before the Lord, one of two things will happen. The Lord will consume the worshipper or the Lord will consume the sacrifice. By the grace of God, when the sacrifice is the prescribed by the law, the sacrifice is consumed so that the worshipper need not be. The Lord Jesus was raised from the dead for our justification, and ascended into heaven where a cloud (sic) hid him from their sight. The Father has consumed the sacrifice. The offering was accepted. Wonderfully, we need not be consumed.

Except in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is even more wonderful. He is both priest and sacrifice. He offered himself. So is the sacrifice consumed (9:24) or is the priest consumed (10:1-2)? Both. As our representative, he is consumed on our behalf. As our substitute, he is the acceptable sacrifice who is consumed in our place.


Now that the Father has eaten Jesus, to signify the efficacy of his self-offering, we too can eat Jesus to signify our receiving of himself once-offered. I’d better be going then…

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