"Fire blazed forth from the Lord's presence and consumed
the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this,
they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground." Leviticus 9:24
A train of solemn rites preceded the priests' admission
to their functions. The entrance-path was long and holy. None might draw
near uncalled—uncleansed—without atonement made through blood—without the
sprinklings of anointing oil. Lev. 8:6, 24, 30.
Through a whole week the victims died, and consecrating
services flowed on. During these days the sacred tent enclosed the devoted
band. They might not pass its separating gate. The world was left. A barrier
parted them from common life. They dwelt shut out from man—shut in with God.
Here is a teaching voice for all, who boast, that they
are Christ's. The priestly office shadows out their calling. They have a
high employ. Their rank is "royal priesthood." 1 Pet. 2:9. They have new
natures, and they do new work. All in God's household minister.
Reader, have you approached by rightful steps the
servant's place? The path is here marked out. Is the blood used as your
atoning plea? Is there the Spirit's inward witness of adoption to the family
of grace? Is the world shunned, as mire? Is life regarded, as a dedicated
walk? They, who are truly called, pass this admission-gate.
In heaven a perfect priesthood serves in perfect praise.
But consecration here is prelude to that bliss. Say, have you more than
empty name? God's service is reality. Is your heart really His? Perhaps you
doubt. Oh! then awake and strive to enter by the only door. Space is yet
yours. But it is on the wing. It may be almost sped. Alas the woe, if death
shall find you not a priest of Christ! Are your signs clear? All, who serve
Him, wear livery—washed in his blood—bright in world-shunning grace.
The seven days of dedication passed. The eighth dawn saw
the services complete. Lev. 9:1. There is no more delay. The holy office is
assumed. The life is now one cloud of incense to the Lord. From morn to
night the willing priests discharge foreshadowing forms.
Ministers of Christ, your work may differ, but should
your zeal be less? Altars no more are raised. All vanished in the cross.
Victims no longer die. No lights are lighted, and no incense burns. The Sun
of Righteousness is risen. Twilight ordinances fled from its glorious orb.
But still wide fields of labor open. Your life is to proclaim the Lamb of
God—the blood once and forever shed. Souls are undone, because they know not
Christ—the true end of rites. Your voice must never cease the cry. Behold
the truth—bathe in this stream—trust in this death—plead this atoning cross.
Shame would it be, if legal priests relaxed not typifying work, and your
hands wearied in uplifting the grand substance—Christ.
In this first day of priestly work, a striking
circumstance occurs. When all the offerings had been duly made, Moses and
Aaron seek the holy tent. Lev. 9:23. For a short season they retire. They
leave the busy scene. It is their wish in stillness to seek God's clearer
face. He was before them in the public rite. But calm retreat would give
more calm approach.
The true believer labors in the open day. In busy haunts
of busy men he strains the toiling nerve. The world is the wide field. There
are the precious souls, which need the wholesome warning and the faithful
word. There sin abounds; and misery dwells; and ignorance spreads its
blinding veil. There Satan rules with deathful sway. In this wild waste the
good seed must be cast. In graceless crowds grace must be manfully
displayed. But private hours gain strength for public zeal. When all is
still the opening heavens pour down their dew.
In quietude the soul draws nearer to Christ's arms. Then
tender whispers testify of love. Then truth unfolds the wondrous page; and
promises assume substantial form; and distant prospects brighten to the
view. It is apart from men that grace takes deeper root; temptations wither;
the world's false glitter fades; the inner man is strengthened to resist and
loins are girded for the battle field. The soldier of the cross goes forth
from solitude to fight his fight. He, who seeks God alone, has God in public
by his side.
Moses and Aaron soon return. But they come not with empty
hands—they are enriched with the best gifts. Here is sweet evidence of
gainful commerce with the Lord. Laden with good, they haste to scatter good
around. Their souls are redolent of heaven. "They blessed the people." Lev.
The blessed of the Lord bless earth. And they are the
most blessed, who most throng the mercy seat. The wise, the rich, the
learned, and the strong, are tools employed by God to move the world's
machine. But it is piety, which strews real weal, on men. They, who descend
from Zion's heights, are, as the clouds, which drop refreshing rain.
And now a sudden marvel fills all minds with awe. While
blessings fall from blessing saints, heaven brightens with resplendent
signs. Glory shines round. Fire is sent forth. But why? Is it to seize the
guilty sons of men? Is it to hurl on them deserved wrath? Far otherwise. It
comes with olive branch of peace. It seals with heaven's own seal the
atoning rites. It settles on the altar. It feeds on the victim, as its
feast. Thus it brings evidence of God's delight. Thus it fills hearts with
tranquil peace. The flame with blazing tongue proclaims, here is the
sacrifice, which God selects—approves—calls men to bring—and never will
Reader, this is the fact which now addresses you. The
altar-victims were the shade of Christ. The attesting fire speaks God's
acceptance of His dying Son. Faith, therefore, loves this scene. It is one
of the wells, from which it gladly draws new joy. It is one of the meadows
of its richest food.
But faith soon asks, what is the antitype of the
descending flame? It opens the clear Gospel-page. There distinct testimonies
answer to this approving sign. Let some now pass before delighted gaze.
The mighty God has scarcely taken human frame, when
heralds speed from the high courts. An angel's shout announces tidings of
transcendent joy—a Savior given—a Savior born—a Savior in man's home. The
host of heaven take up the wondrous strain. The echoing skies cast back the
chorus—"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards
men." Luke 2:14.
Reader, the sealing fire here falls. Can evidence be more
complete? Here is the assurance, that the infant lives, sent by the Father
to save souls. It must be so, or why do those joyful wings expand? It must
be so—that messenger cannot mislead. Then venture on the Incarnate God.
Commit your soul to Him. You may appeal to God—I take Him, because Your
signet stamps Him, as Your chosen Lamb.
The day arrives, when Christ must be distinctly shown. As
surety of His flock, He must fulfill each righteous ordinance. Therefore He
hastens to the baptismal stream. Let all eyes now behold. While He uplifts
His soul in prayer, the heavens above cast back their gates. The Spirit,
like a dove, flies to the lowly suppliant, and the Father's sovereign voice
is heard, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Luke 3:21,
22. The fire again descends. Oh precious token! The Father and the Spirit
join to seal and to anoint our Lord.
Rich in the mercy of this pledge. The thought will
sometimes rise, Is Christ indeed sufficient? Sins are a mighty load. Can He
sustain them? The claims of justice are a long roll. Can He pay all? The
Father's voice decides. It leaves no spot, on which a tottering doubt can
rest. He cries, "well-pleased."
Reader, and will not you respond, "well-pleased?" Receive
Him with adoring love. Cling to Him with most holy rapture. In Him you
cannot fail. In Him you must prevail. He is Salvation by the Father's
will—the Father's word. Cleaving to Him, you cannot be cast out. He is the
Father's chief joy. And seen in Him, the Father loves you, as He loves His
As time rolls on, select disciples view a wondrous sight.
Jesus withdraws the veil, which hides His glory. He stands before them in
more than brightness of the mid-day sun. His visage and His robes outvie all
light. Here is full proof, that Deity is His right—Jesus transfigured must
be very God. But now a super-added testimony sounds. The fire again
descends. The Father again speaks. The note is still the same, "This is my
My soul, here is another call to you. Take Christ as your
beloved one. Haste to respond—Great Lord, each inmost fiber is pure love to
You. Each pulse is an adoring throb.—The voice adjoins, "Hear Him." Heed the
wise counsel. He, whom the Father thus attests, is worthy of all notice of
all ears. Happy, thrice happy he, who can reply, I hear the good Shepherd's
voice. I gladly follow. He leads me to His wounds; and I am clean. He calls
me to His side, and whispers peace. He bids me climb a heavenward path. He
soon will seat me by His side.
Reader, approach the bitter garden scene. Here all the
waves of anguish beat on the Redeemer's soul. His every look and every cry
make known, that He is wrestling with extremest pangs. Each pore weeps
blood. But whence this overwhelming grief? The hour is still. The place is
deep retreat. No hostile bands appear. None but His loved-ones are in view.
It is an unseen arm, which now arrests Him. The sword of hidden wrath now
really pierces to the quick. The fire from God's right hand now truly falls,
and fiercely deals with the self-offered Lamb. Each inward travail shows,
that God is now exacting debts from Him, until the boundless price is paid.
My soul intently gaze. You see wrath visibly outpoured on Christ. Then be
content—the cup is drained. No drop remains for you.
Another scene is near. The death is died. The grave
contains its precious captive. The stone is rolled. The seal is fixed. The
guard is set. The hand of justice has borne Jesus off. The prison gates are
closed. Where are our hopes?
Are claims all satisfied? Will God declare, that He
demands no more? Will there be manifested proof, that all His people are
redeemed? Draw near and witness. The grave restores the mighty dead. Jesus
appears released—alive. Here the fire of satisfaction falls. The topstone of
acceptance is brought forth. The pyramid of God's approval is complete.
Christ is accredited, as the full Savior of the fully saved.
When Israel's host beheld the fire from God, what was
their feeling? "They shouted and fell on their faces." Lev. 9:24. Sweet joy
was theirs. Deep adoration warmed each heart. Exulting praise burst forth.
Profoundest worship was their instant act.
Believer, do the like. God sends His Son to seek—to save.
He lays on Him your every sin. He gives you every pledge, that He
approves—attests—receives—delights in the Accepted offering. Witness after
witness from His courts assures, that pardon, acquittal, release from every
woe, admission to the home of heaven, are y ours. Oh! then, let every breath
praise God. Let every hour of every be inward worship.