THE PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS
All believers in Messiah Jesus are called to be priests, just as were the Levites in the Old Testament. As such, we bear or carry the glory of God. The infilling and gifts of the Holy Spirit are God's Glory dwelling within us as His anointing. Paul declared in I Corinthians 3:16:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
Or, again in I Corinthians 6:19, he said:
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
While God's glory dwells within us, He is never ours to handle or manipulate. Glorying in what God does in us or in the manifestations of God's power displayed by healings, tongues, and countless other signs and wonders is dangerously like reaching out to touch the Ark. As well, so is contemplation of what God has done by using us as His vessel until we become enamored by it.
With constant vigilance we must delight in and worship the God of the signs and wonders and not turn aside to savor what He has done. Immediately when God performs a wonderful work or manifestation of Himself, we must put the display and knowledge of His glory in submission to the Holy Spirit. WITHIN us He alone must be glorified or His wonders will become cheapened or contaminated by our handling and examination of them.
It would have been easy for Noah to step onto dry ground, look around to find the earth void of any other human beings except his family and dwell on the fact that they were the ONLY human survivors of the Flood...a sort of "nah, nah, I told you it was going to rain!" attitude. Easily, he could have drifted into delighting in the whole miracle of the Flood and his survival by faith.
He could have contemplated the Ark, a work of his own hands, and how marvelously it had survived the storm. But, instead, he gathered unhewn stones, built an altar and sacrificed clean animals and birds that came off the Ark with him, burnt offerings to the LORD. He worshipped the God of his miraculous preservation and survival.
The significance of burnt offerings is made clear farther in the Old Testament. When Moses ordained Aaron and his sons as priests to God, he said,
"And you shall offer up in smoke the whole ram on the altar; it is a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD" Exodus 29:18.
Before sacrificing the ram, Aaron went through a lengthy and thorough purification. First, he bathed with water (the Word). Next, he put on priestly garments (righteousness). Then Moses poured anointing oil (the baptism of the Holy Spirit) on his head. Only then was the ram put to death, cut into pieces and all of it laid on the altar to burn (death to self) as a soothing aroma to God.
Later, in the book of Leviticus, God commanded Aaron through Moses:
"This is the law for the burnt offering: the burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire on the altar is to be kept burning on it."
The sacrifice was to remain on the altar all night ON FIRE! Other verses in the Old Testament further stipulate that a burnt offering was to be on the altar CONTINUOUSLY.
God's Glory and a Burnt Offering
So, you say, "What's the connection between God's glory and a burnt offering?" In Noah's case, it was the reality that when he faced what God had done through the Flood and Noah's own salvation and preservation, instead of glorying either in who he was or in what he had gained---or marveling at the works of God's hand in the destruction of the wicked, Noah offered a burnt offering of some of the same animals that had floated with him in the Ark for over a year! He worshipped God and proclaimed that he was there only because God had kept him safe. He was God's humble servant.
In other words, Noah did not touch God's glory or tinker with it, analyze or think too much about it. Instead, he worshipped God Himself for Who He is, 'becoming' the animals on the altar as they burned, a sweet odor to God.
The concluding scenes from Esther's book and life follow this same pattern. God used her as an instrument through whom He delivered the Jews from destruction. Yet, from the time that Ahasuerus gave her the estate of Haman, more and more Esther put everything under Mordecai's control.
Chapter 10 concludes the book and is just three verses long. It mentions only Ahasuerus and Mordecai. We know Esther was still there, because she was queen, but she is transparent...a continuous burnt offering to God, a sweet-smelling aroma in His nostrils while the King and His Administrator blessed the people of the kingdom, particularly the Jews. Need it be spelled out that they foreshadowed God and the Holy Spirit wanting to bless the world, but that we must be out of the way?
This, then, is the key to Spirit warfare. "He must increase, but we must decrease." We must become the 'living sacrifice' that is dead, but never consumed as it burns with the fire of the consuming Holy Spirit.
Can God trust you to bear His glory without touching it? Submission and obedience are the way to that entrustment. But the process is long and time is short. Do not be caught without oil like the five foolish virgins who didn't have time! Seek Him for His own sake and His alone! Die to self under His guidance and become a living sacrifice, a burnt offering ever on fire but never consumed. Begin this moment and never stop---and NEVER reach out and touch His glory! NEVER! He who has ears to hear, let him hear!