Discover His heart: He expects us to honor His holiness
@ Leviticus 10
The sin of Nadab and Abihu – what a way to start the day! “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before Him the wrong kind of fire [strange fire], different than He had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.” (1-2) Toast! We may argue that we are now living in the dispensation of grace, but tell that to Ananias and Sapphira of Acts 5 who lied to the Holy Spirit and fell over dead. I have found God to be gracious, merciful and longsuffering, but I also believe that His holiness deserves our utmost respect and honor, expected especially from those who serve Him.
What caused God to move so swiftly in His response to the offering of Aaron’s sons? Some have suggested it was multiple misdemeanors resulting in one massive offense to God. Or perhaps:
1) These newly-ordained priests, anxious to perform their duties, took it upon themselves to offer fire on the altar of burnt offering which was something reserved only for their father to do with their assistance at this point. We understand their zeal and excitement to serve, don’t we?
2) Then, instead of offering coals from the perpetual Holy fire, they offered coals from another common or ordinary fire. They showed lack of respect for the fire that God had ignited at the very first burnt offering. This fire had continued burning from that first offering until 860 years later when Jerusalem fell to Babylon – it was Holy. (See June 19 @ Leviticus 4-6) It’s easy to understand why this ordinary fire would be so strange to God.
3) Why were these young priests so impulsive and foolish in their behavior? Some believe they may have been drunk. After a long day of eating and drinking from the peace and drink offerings, they may have overindulged to the point of dulling their senses – not good.
While these points are somewhat supposition, the scripture following this account helps us to understand that God requires His servants to display His Holiness, not their own. “I will display My holiness through those who come near me.” (3) Also, God insisted on sobriety from His servants so that sins like this one would not be committed, “You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle…You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common.”(9-10)
This story causes me to examine my usefulness to God. Have I offered strange fire in my service to Him? If so, what did I do? I would think anything I do in ministry that glorifies and draws attention to me instead of to Him would be considered strange to Him. Ministry that results from the latest trends and styles excluding the inspiration of His Holy Spirit would be strange to Him as well. And I certainly would be wise to avoid being drunk with…anything! Wine, power, hatred, jealousy to name a few. These things will only dull my spiritual senses and cause me to sin or make mistakes.
Many privileges come with leadership and ministry, and so do many responsibilities. Jesus said, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:48) Yes, He is grace and mercy to us, but we serve a Holy, Holy God, there is none like Him. May our ministry, no matter what it is, be obedient, respectful and useful, reflecting His Holiness with our lives.
Moving Forward: I examine my heart today to be certain that my service honors Him and Him alone.
Tomorrow @ 2 Kings 1-5