When I read my Bible I look forward each day to hearing from the Lord. I look forward to learning something that will help me live more effectively or that will enable me to help others. I don’t know about you but I find the book of Leviticus to be hard reading. For the first nine chapters, God instructs Moses in how the Israelites are to bring offerings and the priests are to conduct themselves and I’m struggling to see anything even remotely interesting. Then chapter ten comes along and I read the shocking verses below.
Leviticus 10:1-3—Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do. Then flames leaped from the LORD's presence and burned them to death before the LORD. So Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD meant when He said: I will show My holiness to those who are near Me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people." But Aaron remained silent.
Do you ever have questions about why God acts the way He does? I do. While Moses was gone 40 days receiving instruction from God, his brother Aaron caved in to the wishes of his countrymen and forged an unauthorized golden calf for them to worship. He let them get out of control. His dereliction of duty initially resulted in 3000 Israelites killed. Then God struck the people with a plague (see Exodus 32). God did nothing to Aaron.
We read above of God burning to death Nadab and Abihu! Where was their father when they went before God? Did he know his sons were possibly drunk and therefore irresponsible in their actions? God did nothing to Aaron.
In Numbers chapter 12, Moses’ sister Miriam and Aaron criticized him because of his Cushite wife and challenged his authority. God struck Miriam with temporary leprosy for speaking against His servant. God did nothing to Aaron. Eight chapters later, Moses and Aaron disobeyed God’s explicit instruction to speak to the rock so water might pour out. Instead, an angry Moses struck the rock while Aaron took no action to stop him. Then God punished them. He took away their right to enter the Promised Land and shortly thereafter, He ended the life of Aaron.
Was not Aaron’s treasonous golden calf far more heinous than the quirky fire his sons brought before God? It scares me to think that God can be, dare I say, capricious (erratic). Or could it be that He has His purposes for doing what He does? He sees into the hearts of men and women what we cannot see. He knows when it is time to strike and when it is better to refrain from striking. Perhaps it was not fitting to terminate His anointed high priest. Maybe Aaron’s service was more important for a season than leaving Moses alone to cope with his rebellious countrymen. Maybe Aaron’s days were filled with unimaginable grief and pressure trying to appease complainers. Maybe his silence at the execution of his sons was as remarkable as his ability to later worship the Executioner. Maybe his criticism was the overflow of a heart fed up by desert life where people dropped dead on a daily basis and he didn’t always like the decisions of his younger brother. Maybe, just maybe God decided to extend grace.
I don’t understand. It doesn’t matter. The point is that God expects me to live in a pure manner. You and I have no right to do what is unauthorized. The consequences may be immediate and shattering or God may seemingly do nothing. He sees. He knows. He loves. He judges. Our responsibility is to make the fire the way He prescribed.
A fault once denied is twice committed.—Japanese proverb
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)