Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020.01.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 9:18-10:7

Questions from the Scripture text: What was being done at the end of the eighth day of the ordination procedure for Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 9:18-21)? What did Aaron do, having offered the climactic offerings of each type (Leviticus 9:22)? What did Moses and Aaron do, when they came out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23)? And what did Yahweh do (Leviticus 9:23-24)? And how did the people respond? Which two newly ordained Aaronic priests does Leviticus 10:1 mention? What do they take and what do they offer? How does the end of verse 1 explain what was “profane” (literally “strange” or “foreign”) about the fire? From where does the fire in Leviticus 10:2 come? What does it do? What do they do? Who immediately speaks in Leviticus 10:3? What two groups of people does He mention? What must they do (e.g., what had Nadab and Abihu not done)? How does Aaron respond (or not)? Whom does Moses call in Leviticus 10:4? To do what? By what do they carry out the bodies (Leviticus 10:5)? What does Moses tell the father and brothers of the deceased not to do (Leviticus 10:6)? Who is to mourn what instead? What did their being “on duty” in the first full day of their ordained service mean they mustn’t do (Leviticus 10:7)? 
In tomorrow’s sermon text, we are confronted with the holiness of God in a way that is shocking to our sinful sensibilities. To too many of us, and far too often, it seems a small, primarily emotional or perhaps intellectual activity to draw near to God. We don’t realize how very much the holiness and glory of God ought to incinerate us in this nearness. And it is for this reason that we underappreciate what Christ has done to gain for us this nearness.

If anyone should have understood the costliness of one’s safety in drawing near to God, it should have been Nadab and Abihu. From the beginning of chapter 8 up until our particular text, they have been subjected to an eight day ordination ritual with dozens of sacrifices, the smell of burning animal flesh and burning organs, and the ferric scent and crimson-then-brown sight of blood poured out to consecrate the altar. Their righthand ears, righthand thumbs, and righthand big toes were all now deeply stained—monuments to the death and hell that ought to await any sinner in the presence of God, but also that God had provided a way into His presence by atonement. They had even been warned that sticking exactly to God’s plan for worship was “so that you may not die” (Leviticus 8:35).

If ever anyone had been sufficiently called, sufficiently consecrated, sufficiently attired, etc., to bring their creativity to the worship act, it would have been these two. The blessing of God had just been declared not once but twice, and God’s acceptance of the sacrifices had been demonstrated both by a display of His glory and by fire that came from the mercy seat to consume what was on the altar.

But that’s just it. By worshiping in any way at all that God has not commanded, the worshiper comes in a way that has not been bought by Jesus and is not being mediated by Jesus. There is no room for creativity in choosing the actions of worship. When the right men, in the right garments, at the right place, using the right fire pans, and the right incense substituted man-made fire for the God-provided fire, fire came out from Yahweh and consumed them.

Fire came out from Yahweh—meaning from the mercy seat. Even the mercy of God refused to save them. The only way to draw near to God in a way that regards Him as holy is to come through Christ. The only way to gather as the people of God in a way that glorifies Him is to gather through Christ. And it is always God’s commanded actions—and never man’s invented actions—that God accepts as coming through Christ.

But here is the astonishing glory and goodness of the gospel—Christ IS our mercy seat, and there IS mercy for us. This holy God who is a consuming fire has made a way for us to draw near to Him not only in safety, but in blessing and joy!
What habits, before and during corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, help you treat God as holy and glorious in the service? From where must all of our worship actions in corporate worship come? Through Whom are we coming, when we come with God’s commanded worship?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

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