on Leviticus 9 :24
When all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces -
1. The miracle was done in such a way as gave the fullest conviction to the people of its reality.
2. They exulted in the thought that the God of almighty power and energy had taken up his abode among them.
3. They prostrated themselves in his presence, thereby intimating the deep sense they had of His goodness, of their unworthiness, and of the obligation they were under to live in subjection to his authority, and obedience to his will -
This celestial fire was carefully preserved among the Israelites till the time of Solomon, when it was renewed, and continued among them till the Babylonish captivity. This Divine fire was the emblem of the Holy Spirit. And as no sacrifice could be acceptable to God which was not salted, i. e., seasoned and rendered pleasing, by this fire, as our Lord says, Mark 9:49, so no soul can offer acceptable sacrifices to God, but through the influences of the Divine Spirit. Hence the promise of the Spirit under the emblem of fire, Matthew 3:11, and its actual descent in this similitude on the day of pentecost, Acts 2:3, Acts 2:4.
The most remarkable circumstance in this chapter is the manifestation of the presence of God, and the consuming of the victims by the miraculous fire. We have already seen that the chief design of these sacrificial rites was to obtain reconciliation to God, that the Divine Presence might dwell and be manifested among them. To encourage the people to make the necessary preparations, to offer the sacrifices in a proper spirit, and to expect especial mercies from the hand of God, Moses promises, Leviticus 9:4, that the Lord would appear unto them on the morrow, and that his glory should appear, Leviticus 9:6. In hope or expectation of this, the priest, the elders, and the people purified themselves by offering the different sacrifices which God had appointed; and when this was done God did appear, and gave the fullest proofs of his approbation, by miraculously consuming the sacrifices which were prepared on the occasion. Does not St. John evidently refer to these circumstances, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:3 : "Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; and every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." This manifestation of God in the tabernacle was a type of his presence, first, in the Church militant on earth; and secondly, in the Church triumphant in heaven. They who expect to have the presence of God here, must propitiate his throne of justice by the only available sacrifice; they who wish to enjoy everlasting felicity, must be purified from all unrighteousness, for without holiness none can see the Lord. If we hope to see him as he is, we must resemble him. How vain is the expectation of glory, where there is no meetness for the place! And how can we enter into the holiest but by the blood of Jesus? Hebrews 10:19. And of what use can this sacrifice be to those who do not properly believe in it? And can any faith, even in that sacrifice, be effectual to salvation, that does not purify the heart? Reader! earnestly pray to God that thou hold not the truth in unrighteousness.
on Leviticus 9 :24
The very ancient Jewish tradition has been widely adopted that the sacred fire of the altar originated in this divine act, and that it was afterward preserved on the altar of the tabernacle until the dedication of the temple, when fire again "came down from heaven." 2 Chronicles 7:1. But according to the sacred narrative the altar-fire had been lighted in a natural way before this occasion. (Compare Leviticus 8:16; Leviticus 9:10, Leviticus 9:13, etc.; Exodus 40:29.) It would therefore seem that the fire which "came out from before the Lord" manifested itself, according to the words of Leviticus 9:24, not in kindling the fuel on the altar, but in the sudden consuming of the victim. For the like testimony to the acceptance of a sacrifice, see Judges 13:19-20; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26, and probably Genesis 4:4. The phrase to turn a sacrifice to ashes, became equivalent to accepting it (Psalm 20:3, see the margin). The fire of the altar was maintained in accordance with Leviticus 6:13.
on Leviticus 9 :24