The Heavenly Fires

The Heavenly Fires

The Heavenly Fires.

“Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they cheered loudly and fell on their faces in awe.”  (Leviticus 9:23-24). 

There were a number of dramatic moments in the Hebrew Bible when heavenly fires came down and kindled the sacrificial altar. The first time, in Genesis 15, was when Yahweh and Abram ratified the momentous covenant between them. Abram cut a number of animals in half, and God provided a smoking firepot and a flaming torch to pass between the pieces of animals. Abram provided the blood and the meat, and the Lord provided the fire of His presence to represent the sacred occasion and His holiness. God’s fire was the visible assurance to Abram that God’s covenant was true and trustworthy. The next altar fire from heaven was with Moses and Aaron in Leviticus 9. After receiving precise orders from Yahweh, Moses instructed Aaron to offer priestly sacrifices so that “the glory of the Lord will appear.” (Lev. 9:6). So Aaron presented the sin offering, the burnt offering, the cereal offering, the peace offering, and finally the wave offering before the Lord. After lifting his hands to bless the people, Aaron witnessed the cloud of God’s glory as it appeared to all the people. Immediately a fire comes down from the sky and consumed the remnants of Aaron’s sacrifices. Yahweh kindled a divine altar to demonstrate His power and formally accept the earlier sacrifices, confirming Moses’ sacrificial system.

The worshipful heart of David next enters the scene in 1 Chronicles 21, after he purchased the land on which the future Temple would be built. To commemorate the occasion, David built a temporary altar for a sacrificial offering on that site. God responded to David’s devotion by sending fire from heaven to his altar. And David worshiped the God who would demonstrate such holy power and acceptance. Following in his father’s footsteps much later, Solomon finished praying at the dedication of that new Temple, and immediately fire came down from the heavens and consumed the sacrifices at the new altar. God inaugurated the new Temple and its sacred altar in a way that was memorable and powerful and would assure the people of His presence in that holy place.

During the time of the spiritually chaotic Judges, the hero Gideon set an offering of a young goat and some unleavened bread to honor the Angel of the Lord. The Angel miraculously brought fire from heaven out of a rock to consume the meat and the bread. Gideon bult an altar there and called it Yahweh-shalom, Lord is peace. (Judges 6:21). Gideon went on to become the inspired military hero who ended up in the Hebrew Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:32.