Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday - Leviticus 10 - Fire & Fear

Context is always SO instructive. So, let me remind you of how the last chapter ended. "The glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.   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). A fire of God's blessing and approval burned upon the brazen altar, but that wasn't the only fire that day. While the miraculous fire was burning, Aaron's sons Nadab & Abihu foolishly added their own variety of fire into the service of the Tabernacle.  The problem was that they did it without God's commandment or approval.  This caused God to manifest yet another brand of fire…the fire of His anger (11 Kings 1:10 and 12, Psalms 11:6, Luke 17:29 and Revelations 14:10 and 21:8).  God killed them with a second blast of miraculous fire (Leviticus 10:2).

God had spent so much time giving very precise instruction concerning all that was to be done in the Tabernacle. Evidently Nadab and his brother looked with contempt at God's commands (perhaps because they were under the influence of an intoxicating beverage - see Leviticus 10:9). Their irreverence cost them their lives. If you want to know why God judged them so harshly, just ask Him. His reason is recorded for us, "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified" (Leviticus 10:3).

The rest of the events following immediately on the heels of this divine execution are somewhat peculiar. Aaron did not mourn the death of his sons, Aaron's other sons were commanded not to mourn the death of their brothers, some other relatives of the family were  instructed by Moses to take the dead priests outside of the camp for burial and a prompt resumption of the rituals was expected. Now, though a continuation of the ceremonies was demanded, they ran into an immediate hitch. The animal that should have been eaten by the priests had been burned in its entirety without the camp.

Moses reacted with indignation to this departure from the prescribed process. And, no wonder he was upset. He had just witnessed God's wrath against the first vacillation and had heard a threat from God concerning the potential for more judgment (Leviticus 10:9). So, Moses rebuked Eleazar and lthamar. But Aaron defended them telling Moses (and God) that they had burned the parts that would normally have been eaten because he (Aaron) had told them to do so. Aaron had evidently considered himself unworthy to eat of the holy things after his sons had demonstrated impiety. He had, it seems, ordered the sacrifice burned completely due to his own fear of God's wrath. Apparently his explanation was acceptable.  This is a reminder that our attitude holds precedence over our actions.

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