I. THE INCENSE SHOULD BE BURNED
BEFORE THE LORD WITH THE FIRE
FROM THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING
Leviticus 16:12 tells us that the incense should be burned before the Lord with the fire from the altar of burnt offering. It is by this fire that the two altars, the incense altar and the burnt offering altar, are linked together. The burnt offering altar was for the sacrifices. The incense altar was for the incense. But the fire linked these two altars together.
According to the Pentateuch, this fire that burned all the offerings on the brass altar came from the heavens (Lev. 9:24; cf. 1 Chron. 21:26; 2 Chron. 7:1). It was not a fire started by man; it was the fire that came from God. And that fire, from the time that it came, never ceased. The fire burned all the time, day after day, from evening until morning (Lev. 6:9). That fire was holy fire, not strange fire.
II. THE FIRE ON THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING
BURNS OUT ALL THE NATURAL
AND NEGATIVE THINGS BEFORE GOD
The fire on the altar of burnt offering burns out all the natural and negative things before God. It burns everything into ashes. Anything that can ascend to God must first be burned at the altar with the divine fire. Whatever has been burned on the altar with the divine fire will be accepted by God. Thus, to burn the incense before God at the incense altar, the fire that comes down from God is needed. This divine fire, which burns out all the natural and negative things, is needed for our service.
III. THE STRANGE FIRE SIGNIFIES
THE NATURAL ENTHUSIASM
The strange fire signifies the natural enthusiasm (Lev. 10:1) not dealt with by the cross and not in resurrection. Here we have to stress and develop what it means for us to be dealt with by the cross in our enthusiasm so that we can serve the Lord. In order to be in resurrection, we have to pass through the dealing of the cross. We should not bring in our natural hotness. Whether it is good or bad, pure or impure, it is still natural.
(Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)