Monday, July 03, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 10-12
In our last reading in Leviticus, Aaron and his sons were ceremoniously consecrated to the priesthood (Leviticus 8-9). What a glorious day it was for all Israel when Aaron blessed the people, offered sacrifices and “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people” (Leviticus 9:23)! The LORD displayed His presence and approval when “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat” (Leviticus 9:24) and “all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24b).
One would hope that blessed display of God’s favor might continue with all Israel maintaining a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case. Tragedy soon fell upon the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).
What great sorrow that priests would sin against the LORD. We are not told the motive or reason the eldest sons of Aaron offered “strange fire”; however, we read it was not “commanded” by the LORD. My own speculation is, given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; pride moved the sons of Aaron to exalt themselves before the people. Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge these earthly representatives of His heavenly throne and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).
Aaron, the father of Nadab and Abihu, was no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths. Moses reminded Aaron the LORD sanctified the priesthood and demanded He alone be glorified before the people. Of Aaron we read, he “held his peace” (10:3), meaning he was silent.
The LORD commanded the bodies of Nadab and Abihu be taken outside the camp for burial (10:4-5); and, lest the people be tempted to sorrow and grieve over the deaths of those who sinned against the LORD, God warned Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, to not make a public display of their sorrow before the people (10:6-7) and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:7).
Priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when they ministered before the LORD (10:8-10). Of the sacrifices offered before the LORD, a portion was to serve as meat for Aaron and his sons (10:12-15).
God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding meat the children of Israel could eat and the meat they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11). Large beasts that are “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) were acceptable; however, beasts that are not were forbidden. Examples of forbidden beasts are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).
Leviticus 11:9-23 lists other meats acceptable and forbidden, including fish (11:9-12), birds (11:13-20) and insects (11:21-23). Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).
I close today’s devotional commentary pondering what “strange fire” (10:1-7) is present in American churches today under the pretense of worship. When the goal of worship services is excitement and entertainment as opposed to hallowed and holy, I suggest what many call worship is nothing less than “strange fire”.
If pride motivated Aaron’s sons to offer incense without the LORD’s command (and I believe it was); then what must the LORD see when “worship” leaders and music groups lead an audience with music that has an overriding rock beat moving the audience to cavort about under the guise of worship?
Friend, God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2). If what we call worship looks like the world and acts like the world, it is not holy!
In other words, “If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith