“The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not go out. The priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and he shall arrange the burnt offering on it and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.” (Leviticus 6:12–13 ESV).
Israel's priests had work to do. These men didn't just sit around offering "thoughts and prayers" for the peeps. Nah, dudes worked, and one job they had was to keep the fire on the altar of sacrifice at full blaze. That fire had to roar, lest the sacrificial smoke lazily waft through the camp toward the people. It was supposed to jut upward toward heaven.
For the fire to burn brightly, wood had to be found and cut and laid on the altar. Animals had to be examined and then offered. Ashes had to be removed. And that fire, God said, "shall not go out."
We, also, must keep that fire burning! We have no literal altar, of course -- Praise Jesus! -- but we do have a ministry to God. We pray. We sing. We read his word in anticipation that the voice of heaven wills to break through into our modern minds. And those fires should not lazily burn. They must rage.
Paul told Timothy, "I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God" (2 Timothy 1:6). As we walk through life, we must remember how Jesus gave himself for us. Before he did, we could not even begin to give our bodies to God. Our entire beings -- eyes, hands, ears, mouths -- were depraved (Romans 3:9-18). Now, however, after the gospel shocked us into resurrection life, we can give our bodies to God as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to him (Romans 12:1-2). What we could not do while dead in trespasses and sins, we can do now that the life of the immortal Spirit is within us, driving us forward as we walk with God.
I'm sure at various places and times it was more difficult to obtain enough wood to keep that old altar's fire burning bright. I'm sure there were moments the fire flickered and became a bed of smoldering ashes. I'm sure it sometimes felt an unnecessary task to those ancient priests. And when our fire wanes and the smoke wafts, let us ask the Spirit for the strength to get that fire burning bright once again.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23).