Tuesday, August 23
We begin our day’s reading with 2 chapters which provide a detailed depiction of the ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons. They were chosen by God to act as the priests for the people. It was a huge honor and responsibility. Their ordination and the start of their ministry was an 8 day affair with Moses giving directions from God, and Aaron and his sons carefully following each of the instructions.
In 8:35 Moses tells Aaron and sons, “You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the Lord requires, so you will not die” (perhaps a bit of foreshadowing there?). And in 9:6, “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” Both of these verses give different reasons for obeying God’s instructions – so you will not die, and so God’s glory may appear to you.
In Chapter 10 two of Aaron’s sons, the newly appointed priests (Nadab and Abihu) receive the penalty of death by fire from the Lord for offering, “unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command.” (10:1) Perhaps their pride had already led them astray (“Hey, look at us, God made us priests, we are HOT stuff”). Perhaps they were mixing clean and unclean, holy and common (trying to call holy something that wasn’t). Or perhaps they just thought they had a better way of doing things . . . but . . . they didn’t. God is God and we are not. And perhaps it was this very idea that God was teaching his children when Aaron and remaining sons were told to not mourn but to carry on with their priestly duties while the rest of Israel did the mourning.
I know it all seems harsh to us, but it also reminds me of a teacher at the start of a new school year. The teacher sets the rules (and knows why they are good rules, even when the students sometimes don’t). The wise teacher will enforce the rules with the set consequences early on in the school year. If the students see the teacher means business, order and learning are much more likely to occur throughout the rest of the year. God had given the rules and set the consequences and clearly stated the reasons to obey. Nadab and Abihu were either intentionally pushing the limits (deliberate sin), or blisslessly ignorant (unintentional sin), or just thought they had a better way. Whatever the case, they (and the Israelites) saw that God means business.
Following the death, the Lord speaks to Aaron and says, “You MUST distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, and you MUST teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them.” (10:10). Thankfully, our merciful God does not always strike with fire . . . but we know he is right when he does, he can, he has and he most definitely will again.
What has God been commanding you to do lately? How are you doing in following his directions? What reasons do you have for obeying God? Any excuses for disobeying – or doing it your own way? Are you perhaps missing out on seeing his glory because you are not being fully obedient? Any unholy things in your life that you are keeping around when they ought to be tossed? Are there any areas of your life where you have tried to tell God you have a “better way”? Any danger areas that need to be resolved – NOW?
– Marcia Railton