"23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. 24 And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces." — Leviticus 9:23-24 KJV.
24. There came a fire out from before the Lord — This supernatural fire was the divine ratification of the priesthood, and acceptance of their first offering. According to the Jews, it couched upon the altar like a lion; it was bright as the sun; the flame was pure and solid, emitting no smoke, and consuming wet and dry things alike. Says Oehler, “The Shekinah shows its reality in the sanctuary by means of actions of power which go out from it.” See Leviticus 10:2, note. The command to keep this heavenly fire is recorded in Leviticus 6:13. See note for the period during which it was preserved. They shouted — This was the shout of victory — the prostration of worship. All was now complete — the sacrifice, the robed and mitred priest, the priestly family associated with their head, the priestly benediction, the appearance of the King and Priest, and the outflashing of the divine glory — a marvellously beautiful shadow of things to come. Ever since the Son of God was glorified on high as our High Priest, and his sending down the Paraclete, has the earth resounded with the shouts of souls filled with the Holy Ghost. All true service is gladdened by the divine acceptance, and glorified by the divine presence.
Much confusion will be avoided in our conception of the successive events of this day if we assume that all the offerings spoken of as made before the “fire went out from before the Lord,” were simply prepared, and not burned, till consumed by the supernatural fire. This is reasonable, if we suppose that the burnt sacrifice of the morning is mentioned proleptically. Dr. Murphy thus explains the difficulty:
If the lamb prescribed be not the morning sacrifice, then the burnt offering is additional to the standing one of the morning. But several considerations are in favour of their identity. First, Aaron was now manifestly to act for the first time as duly constituted high priest, and it seems incongruous that he should have offered a morning sacrifice beforehand. Secondly, this was the commencement of the national worship; there cannot, therefore, have been a previous morning sacrifice distinct from this, as the latter would have been the real commencement. Thirdly, the erection of the tabernacle had to be completed on this morning, and this, though of trivial amount, would occupy time. Fourthly, the manifest propriety of the initiatory sacrifice being kindled by the fire from God points the same way. And lastly, the phrase ‘besides the burnt sacrifice of the morning,’ (verse 17,) is usually explained to mean that this oblation was in addition to the morning sacrifice on this special occasion, though it did not usually accompany it while the people were in the wilderness.
From this time the history of Aaron is almost entirely that of the priesthood.