SCRIPTURE – Numbers 4:13; Ezra 4:12
NUMBERS 4:13 (AMP)
 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar [of burnt offering] and spread a purple cloth over it.
Biblically, the origin of the ALTAR goes clear back to Genesis in the bible when Noah built an Altar and then offered SACRIFICES after the flood (Genesis 8:20).
Now in Old Testament times, there were many restrictions concerning the Altar. In Exodus 20:24-26, for instance, the ALTAR was made “of earth or stone that had not been shaped or cut with human hand” AND… “there were to be no steps up to the altar.”
Now the ALTAR was used to make animal sacrifices to the LORD–The PURIFICATION of the Altar was accomplished by sprinkling BLOOD upon it. Often Altars were erected in places where the LORD had accomplished some great work or had delivered some prophetic message. Later, the Israelites had ALTARS in the tabernacle in the desert and once Solomon’s Temple was built the Altar was in the Temple.
But the ALTAR’S MAIN FUNCTION, and this is important to remember, was… SACRIFICE and WORSHIP–
And special care had to be taken to keep it Holy– And part of the special care was to “GET RID OF THE ASHES THAT ACCUMULATED ON A DAILY BASIS.”
As a “Word Detective,” I had to discover why this ritual was so important. Although I have a gas fireplace in my current home, I do remember in the previous house having a wood-burning fireplace insert and heating the entire structure through the Fall, Winter, and Early Spring months. If I didn’t clean the ASH out of the insert…if I wasn’t careful removing the ASH, I would have to explain to my understanding wife why there was BLACK SOOT everywhere! If I didn’t remove the ASH daily, the ash would smother the FIRE and cause the flame to be extinguished–NO SPARK, NO FLAME, NO HEAT!
NOW WATCH THIS HERE: One of the jobs of the priests in the OT was to never let the FLAME on the ALTAR to go out because the FLAME represented God’s Presence. Since the ALTAR FLAME burned continually, the priest [on a daily basis] would have to go to the ALTAR and scrape the ashes off–because if left there, the ashes were subject to put-out the FIRE and bring down punishment and judgment from God on them and the entire camp and then the priests would have to redress the ALTAR with purple cloth.
That’s it! Another Holy Spirit moment!! Many of us need to go and get in a proper WORSHIP POSITION and scrape-off the stuff causing us to miss our deliverance and causing our FIRE to go out.
Some of you reading this might be wondering why you CAN’T get your breakthrough right now. It is probably because you’re trying to come to God for A BLESSING, but you’re holding onto a mess in your life!
– You want God to BLESS your finances, but you’re still playing the lottery!
– You want God to FIX your marriage, but you still want to sleep around.
– You want to be used by God to minister in the church on Sunday, but you haven’t learned how to get along with the people you see every day.
– You want that new car or a new house, or a new job, but your BLESSING is being delayed because God is waiting for you to SCRAPE-OFF your ashes!
Have you ever cooked out on the grill and accidentally dropped a piece of meat down through the slots in the grill? Be honest…if no one was looking, you probably fished it out with tongs, and put it back over the fire, finished cooking it, then took it off the grill, put it on a plate and served it to your guests–but you made sure [when YOU ate] you didn’t get that real black, crusty piece, because you know what it would taste like,
WELL GUESS WHAT…God wants to feed you with the goodness of His Word. But before you can enjoy the GOODNESS of the Word, you’ve got to remove the ASHES!
Here’s what I’ve learned about ASHES: I’VE LEARNED THAT ASHES ARE BITTER!
No one, in their right mind, enjoys eating ashes because ashes are BITTER. Some of us have been eating the ASHES of painful relationships and past experiences for so long, that now, we’re just BITTER all the time with everyone we meet.
The writer tells us in the letter to the Hebrews (12:15):
 Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it– Amplified Bible.
IN OTHER WORDS, I believe the Apostle Paul is telling us, that the ROOT OF BITTERNESS will not only defile us but also the people around us.
When we FEED on ASHES, that is to say, when we allow the cruel things that were done to us yesterday affect how we feel and function today, we become BITTER, not only within ourselves but to every person we come intact with.
Personally, I’ve discovered over the years, that the ENEMY loves to keep in my face, stuff that hurt me yesterday so that I might be miserable and bitter today. But thank God for Jesus! Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” ~ John 10:10 (AMP).
In other words, Jesus is saying that: “I’ve come to take off what the devil has put on and to put on what the devil has taken off!”
Have you ever noticed how intensely and ferociously the devil attacks you after you’ve had a divine revelation or experience? Satan doesn’t usually bother you much while you’re sitting around watching television, or out at the mall shopping, or relaxing on the front porch with a tall glass of ice tea in your hand. NO…he waits until:
- YOU JUST CAME OUT OF A BIBLE STUDY!
- YOU JUST FINISHED LIFTING YOUR HANDS IN PRAISE AND GIVING A SHOUT!
- YOU JUST MADE UP YOUR MIND TO BECOME A GOOD HUSBAND, A GOOD WIFE, OR A GOOD DAD, A GOOD MOM!
That’s when the DEVIL tries to carry you back to where you’ve just come from causing you to sit down around the Old Campfire and EAT ASHES!
Not only are the ashes bitter, but ASHES PROVIDE NO STRENGTH.
Here’s a known FACT: There’s absolutely no nutritional value in ashes!
In fact, we’ll grow weaker each day if we “FEED ON ASHES”,
Psalm 102:4 (NIV) My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forgot to eat my food.
Psalm 102:9 (AMP) For I have eaten the ashes [in which I sat] as if they were bread and have mingled my drink with weeping.
In other words, David is saying: “I became so busy dealing with yesterday’s junk that I forgot to eat the bread of life.”
We all know what happens when we forget or skip a meal. We grow WEAK! Likewise, when we fail to eat the fresh bread of life each day, we begin to decline and wither like the grass! That’s why we need to begin each day with personal Bible study and meditation on God’s Word. You need to understand that your spiritual strength is directly proportionate to how much fresh spiritual bread you eat daily! It doesn’t matter how much you consumed yesterday, today’s strength hinges on today’s meal!
ASHES WILL MAKE YOU SICK!
In Exodus 16, when the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning the MANNA FROM HEAVEN, He said, “Gather of it as much as you need, let none of it be left until morning” (vv. 18, 19).
However, the Bible lets us know that some people ignored the instruction and kept some overnight and the Bible says that it, “bred worms, became foul, and stank.”
But watch this: When they followed God’s instructions and gathered FRESH MANNA EVERY DAY, the Word says in Numbers 11:8 that:
“The people ground it in mills or beat it with mortars, and boiled it in pots,
and made cakes of it, and it tasted like cakes baked with fresh oil.”
Anytime you see OIL mentioned in the Bible it represents “The Anointing of God!” – HOLY SPIRIT!
So what I’m saying here is YESTERDAY’S MANNA breeds worms and stinks, and if we try to eat it, it will make us sick, but TODAY’S MANNA will taste fresh and strengthens us!
So you’re going to need to make up your mind despite yesterday’s stinking situation…TODAY you’re going to seek a fresh ANOINTING in your life!
- TODAY…you’re going to go to a higher level in your RELATIONSHIP with God!
- TODAY…I am going to get in a proper position so I can HEAR from God!
- TODAY…I am going to get a fresh ANOINTING!
“I WANT A FRESH ANOINTING AND I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!”
ASHES on the Altar produces in us Bitterness, Weakness, and Sickness.
But when you get a fresh touch from God you receive just the opposite:
– BITTERNESS is replaced with SWEETNESS!
– WEAKNESS is replaced with STRENGTH!
– SICKNESS is replaced with HEALTH!
– And HUNGER is replaced with SATISFACTION!
FRESH OIL is what we need, NOT day old oil!
Before the children of Israel could receive God’s approval concerning the offering of the SACRIFICE, Verse 13 says, “And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon.”
Before the SACRIFICE could be made, God’s instructions say that yesterday’s ASHES from the Sacrifice must be cleared away and the kingly color of purple had to be draped over the altar.
Before they could receive God’s FAVOR, His BLESSINGS, they had to get rid of the leftover residue and dress the Altar fit for a king!
If you’re needing a fresh anointing from God…PAIN in your body that you had yesterday and may have even woke up with today, but you’ll be able to endure it with a smile because you’ve gotten the ASHES off your Altar! You should be saying to yourself, “I want a fresh anointing Lord, and I want it right now!” The Apostle Paul compares his sharing of the Gospel Message with an ATHLETE – 1 Corinthians 9:23-27:
So what’s Paul saying here? Simply this: I must keep my experiences fresh so that after I have fed others around me the good foods of the Word, I don’t wind up “FEEDING ON ASHES!”
“Whatever it takes, come hell or high water, I WILL put forth the effort to build a fresh ALTAR, and keep it clean that I may partake of the ANOINTING of God every day of my life! Whatever the cost! I can’t afford to let my ALTAR get ashy!!”
“DON’T LET YOUR ASHES PUT OUT THE FIRE!”
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Comparative Bible Translations: BibleStudyTools.com
Bible Translations: Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV); English Standard Version (ESV).