This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Leviticus 9:23-24 - "A Fire Came Out from Before the LORD."

 "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.

23. Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle — “Tent of meeting,” (R.V.) This is the first recorded entrance of any human being into the tabernacle after its dedication, when it was so filled with glory that Moses could not enter. The purpose of their entering is not revealed. It is probable that they drew near to Jehovah in communion and intercession for the people, to burn incense, and to trim the lamps. Exodus 30:7, 8. When the lawgiver and the high priest came out and blessed the people, the glory within flashed out and consumed… the burnt offering, signifying the divine acceptance, and impressing all the people with a sense of the goodness of Jehovah, and of his majesty, in view of which they shouted for joy, and before which they fell on their faces. The words of the threefold benediction are recorded in Numbers 6:22-27, which is probably a repetition of a former communication of the same formula which, we doubt not, was used on this solemn occasion. The shouting is the first outburst of gladness in the Old Testament worship of Jehovah. It was fitting that those who had profaned their lips in shouting the orgies of a pagan worship (Exodus 32:17) should now employ them in uttering the praises of their reconciled God. There is always joy when God makes his abode with men. Fulness of joy is the natural expression of fulness of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, 19. This display of the divine majesty following the consecration and first service of the Levitical priesthood has a striking parallel fifteen centuries later, after the anointing of the Holy Ghost had consecrated, as priests unto God, the one hundred and twenty in Jerusalem, and they had rendered their first service in proclaiming Jesus the Lamb that was slain but lives again, when the glory of divine grace more marvellously smote the multitude at the coming forth of the anointed from their tabernacle, the upper chamber, to minister through all ages at a more glorious altar. The parallel is so perfect as to suggest that the first may have been intended to typify the second. See Acts 2.

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.

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