Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’”
Aaron remained silent.
Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.
Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.
Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.”
- Leviticus 10:1-11
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
- Galatians 4:6
While I was driving to the dialysis center to pick up my wife (unable to stay, even in the lobby, due to COVID – besides, I can get a lot done in those 4+ hours), I was thinking about an addition to a post that I had been writing before it became time to pick her up. Somehow, I got so sidetracked in my thoughts while driving that I thought of the Leviticus Scripture above and I have no idea how that related to what I had been writing. Thus, the bit of writing below could be called “A Tangent.”
No, I was thinking about how we love Jesus so much that we want to follow God’s law, we just cannot seem to pull it off. Then, that led to legalism and how God does not want us to turn ourselves into modern Pharisees. Jesus had enough trouble with the Pharisees 2,000 years ago and their self-righteous rule following.
And then there is the two Scriptures above, the counterpoints if you will. Consumed by fire for violating a rule versus being the brother of Jesus and calling God our Daddy by having God’s Spirit within us – nothing said about rules at all. But think of what these priests were doing. They were leading an entire nation in worship, and immediately from the get-go, they take short-cuts. There is something to be said for being ‘holy.’ And not taking God at His word is a dumb thing to do. Aaron and the surviving brothers learned that.
Why did cousins have to remove the bodies? The priests, the father and brothers of the fallen priests, would become ceremonially unclean. Then no one would be able to lead the nation in worship. They had to be left in a state of consecration until their work was done.
So, when you see, firsthand, that the penalty of violating the rule is death, it gets your attention. Right?
But knowing that has never stopped people in all the thousands of years since then in taking short-cuts. As a safety manager, I know that short-cuts are one of the easiest ways to get someone hurt or killed on a job site. Old Joe creates a short-cut. He then teaches it to everyone else, but Old Joe forgets to say that if such-n-such is off a little, the short-cut could lead to someone dying. It works fine until the conditions aren’t exactly so, maybe after Old Joe is retired, and no one knows who created the short-cut. It is not even a short-cut; it becomes how you do it. Then, the short-cut leads to a death or serious injury.
We are prone to sin. Short-cuts, in themselves, may not be “sin,” because we are not violating God’s law. In some cases, not even man’s law, just the law of common sense, which does not seem to be that common these days. Common sense requires people to think.
And being holy requires God within us, and us listening to God through the Bible and that inner voice that says not to take that short-cut.
The “all or nothing” generation can put an absolute on things, but we can have that brotherly relationship with Jesus, not be absolutely perfect, and achieve some semblance of holiness as we strive to be more like Jesus. People want to condemn us for the slightest flaw, but we know that we cannot achieve true holiness. It all revolves around our relationship with Jesus. Only God is holy, but we can strive toward that goal.
Have you ever had that friend that was a bit more “cool” than you were? Whatever word you wish to use, but it seems “cool” is making a minor comeback. You wore your hair the same way. You rolled up your sleeves or pants cuffs or rolled down your socks, whatever the cool guy or girl did, you followed.
That did not make you “cool.” Neither does imitating Jesus makes us truly holy, but we get just a little closer each time. We will only get all the way there when we meet Jesus face to face.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.