Today; supernatural Israel.
God started the fire
What makes ancient Judaism so supernatural is that God started the fire for the burnt offering, not man.
Man cannot come to God on any of his own efforts or formulas. In the Old Testament when a person was in the presence of God they had to remove their shoes because shoes are man-made. We can't come into His presence on anything we did. This is found in Exodus 3:5-6 when Moses talks to the Lord at the burning bush. "...Remove your shoes from your feet, for this is holy ground."
Also seen in Joshua 5:14-15 when Christ as the Captain of the Lord's armies told Joshua how to take Jericho and commands him to remove his shoes in His presence. (This was not an angel talking to Joshua, but Christ, noted by the fact 1, He received worship, 2, told Joshua to remove his shoes, and 3, in chapter 6 the narration continues by switching from natural view to the real perspective; 'the Lord said...' in their conversation. So toss out books that say this is an angel (Like Angels on Assignment) for there are a few out there which bring error to one's understanding.)
Man can't come to God through any effort of his own. It is the reason God commanded when they built an altar on which to make sacrifices, they could not chisel the rock or change it in any way - they had to use the rock as they found it on the ground, for to shape it would be to add man's effort to salvation. Exodus 20:25
Fire from the Lord
With that understanding, that coming to God is all Him and we bring nothing to the union, we look at the burnt offering which is the subject of the first chapters of Leviticus. The very first sacrifice we see is when the Lord God (Christ) killed an animal and made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:21. This was an object lesson for them on how He would later become the final sacrifice that man may be clothed by Him. Genesis 4 records Cain rejected salvation by this grace and chose to come to God on his own efforts, from an offering of the vegetables he had worked so hard to produce. We can't come to God based on our work, our efforts, our formulas.
The Lord did not accept his offering because it was from his own efforts, while He did accept Abel's offering which was the innocent blood of an offering from the flock. This is why Cain is the father of all false religions and false efforts to come to God of one's own efforts. We can use as an example various religious rites from around the world which prescribe certain prayers, certain efforts to approach, impress, or move God.
Moses wrote Genesis, so it is understood by him and to us, that fire came from heaven to consume Abel's offering, and not Cain's. That is how he knew his offering had not been accepted. This established the pattern of God being the one who sent fire from heaven to start the fire of the burnt offering, that nothing of that offering remain.
This is repeated throughout Leviticus - let nothing of the burnt offering remain. It must be totally consumed. This is what the Lord told Israel on that first Passover in Exodus 12:10:"Let nothing of it remain until morning, and if some remains in the morning, burn it completely." This is of course a type of Jesus on the cross, that His 'burnt offering' for sin was complete, total, 100%.
Moses and Aaron - Leviticus 9:23-24 at the very first offerings from the new priesthood led by Aaron:"And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle and then came out and blessed the people. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And there came fire out from before the Lord and consumed on the altar the sacrifice and even to the fat, and the people saw it and shouted and fell on their faces."
Gideon - In Judges 6:20-24, Gideon sees the angel of the Lord (Christ), who calls him to lead Israel against the Midianites and become the Judge of Israel. Gideon makes an offering of meat and unleavened bread and put it on a rock altar. The 'angel of the Lord' touched the rock with His staff and a fire started that consumed the offering and the 'angel of the Lord' departed. Gideon didn't start the fire, the 'angel of the Lord' did. Gideon, knowing his history and realizing he had seen the Lord face to face, cried out. The Lord then spoke to him and assured him that he would not die. Gideon called the Lord 'Jehovah Shalom', God of Peace, because of this encounter that he did not die.
Samson - About 50 years later, in Judges 13:16-20 the 'angel of the Lord' appears to a man named Manoah and his wife, telling them she will conceive and give birth to a Judge for Israel and he will be a Nazarite from conception. These parents of the future Samson make an offering to the Lord in thanks for this prophecy, and Manoah, not realizing Who he was talking to, asked Him His name.
Verse 18:"Why do you ask my name seeing it is Wonderful?" (Heb:Wonderful, incomprehensible, majestic), and then He ascended in the flame of the sacrifice to heaven and out of view. You'll recall Isaiah 9:6 says of Messiah:"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name shall be called Wonderful..."
Manoah told his wife they had seen God face to face and will surely die. His wife, being smarter and with common sense, said in v23; "Would He have told us we are going to have a son if He was going to kill us? And He accepted our offering as well, so we aren't going to die."
Solomon - In II Chronicles 7:1-3 when Solomon dedicated his temple it says:"When Solomon had ended his speech the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the temple because the glory of the Lord had filled the place so strongly. And when all the people saw how the fire came down with the glory of the Lord they fell on their faces and worshipped, praising the Lord saying, 'For He is good; for his mercy endures forever.'"
Elijah - In I Kings 18:36-39 we have perhaps the most well known example of God's pattern of starting the fire for the burnt sacrifices - Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Unfortunately most pastors and Sunday school lessons neglect teaching the larger truth, thinking what Elijah did was an exception to the rule. As a result we may wonder why Elijah was so confident his plan would work, and many have mistakenly thought he just came up with the idea himself, or his great faith caused God to answer by fire. Faith is not independent of God, but rather our response to His revealed grace. Elijah was just following His Word from Leviticus, which had not been followed in Israel in years.
Elijah knew all this, which is why he was biding his time until the standard 3pm evening sacrifice, when he knew God would answer by fire to consume the burnt sacrifice. So he had fun with the prophets of Baal, accusing Baal of being on the toilet in once instance, away on a trip at another time. And as 3pm approached he confidently told the people to pour water on the sacrifice because he wanted to show them he was not going to do some magic trick, no sleight of hand to start the fire by trickery.
"And it came to pass at the time of the evening sacrifice Elijah the prophet drew near and said; 'Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and I have done all these things at your Word. (Instructions in Leviticus)'...Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust and the water in the trench..."
From Abel to Moses, Gideon to Manoah, Solomon to Elijah, God's pattern was that fire from heaven would consume the burnt offering completely. It is a type of Jesus on the cross, fully taking away the sin of the world.
Christian - For the Christian struggling with their salvation, wondering if God might yet reject them though they believe in Jesus and love God, what we see established in Leviticus and the other passages gives us great peace. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, a transaction between Him and His Father, was a complete work. There is nothing left of our sin. As Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:17:"...old things are passed away, and behold! All things have become new."
There is not a 'Yes, but' to be expressed. There is no 'You don't know what I did' to be considered. The burnt offering was not just for the initial sin, but the whole of sin. Knowing that legally speaking our sin tomorrow or next month or next year has already been burned up in the sacrifice of Jesus, leads us on to greater holiness.
Knowing that our sin and sins yet future are burnt up in the sacrifice of Jesus, invites us to charge forward in every effort to know Him more and better and to draw close for there is nothing between us and God the Father. That knowledge erases fear between us and God - anything that once stood between us, even future sins yet to be committed by us, have already been provided for and forgiven - so move forward full speed ahead in Him!
More next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at email@example.com