9 “Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.
10 And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar.
11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.
12 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.
13 Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out.
The priests are to keep the fire burning day and night. A seamless transition of maintaining the fire from priest to priest would ensure a soothing aroma to remain uninterrupted before the Lord. The hot coals continuously burned the sacrifice for complete obliteration of every sin substitute. While performing religious duties, the priest must always be clothed with the proper priestly garments. A clothed priest of Yahweh would stand in contrast to pagan practices in the nude. We cannot approach a holy God without His provision and covering of grace. While placing wood on the fire, the priests must also remove the fat ashes and restart the process of each days sacrifice for atonement for sin and worship to the Lord.
Likewise, as Christians we keep the fires burning with our faith in God. Daily we clothe ourselves with confession of sin and renewal of God’s grace and forgiveness. The gospel is our faith fuel. Faith and passion for God is increased by returning to the cross to remind ourselves the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is final, giving us full freedom. We are priests to God offering sacrifices with our lips and life to give uninterrupted praise to the glory of God.
Further, as a pastor, I cannot help thinking about the transitions from priest to priest. Churches often are challenged and struggle with leadership transitions and pastoral turnover. We need to do a better job of keeping the fire burning through healthy communication about change. Leaders burnout when they are isolated from others and are not sharing the responsibilities of cutting and carrying wood, removing ashes and trash, and staying clothed in the provisions of God. One can press those analogies how they wish, but the principle remains that we must work together to maintain the fire and advance the aroma of the gospel throughout our neighborhoods.