Friday, September 15, 2023

2023.09.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 10:1–7

Read Leviticus 10:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who act in Leviticus 10:1? Whose sons are they? What does this make them? What do they take? What do they put in it? What do they put on it? What does the Holy Spirit call this fire? Before Whom do they offer it? What had He not done? What comes out in Leviticus 10:2? From where/Whom? What does it do to Nadab and Abihu? What happens to them? Before Whom? Who speaks in Leviticus 10:3? To whom? Whose words does he deliver? Concerning what group of people, or what action, is the Lord speaking? How must those who draw near regard the Lord? Before Whom does He insist upon being glorified? What does this imply that Nadab and Abihu were not doing? How does Aaron respond to Moses’s statement? Whom does Moses call in Leviticus 10:4? What relation are they to Aaron? Where does Moses tell them to go? And carry what? Where? So where do they go (Leviticus 10:5)? How do they carry them? Where? What important qualifier ends verse 5? To whom does Moses now speak in Leviticus 10:6? What does he tell them not to do to themselves? What will happen to them if they do? What will happen to all the people? Who must mourn this new burning? How many of them must do so? Who has kindled it? But where mustn’t Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar go? What would happen to them? Why? What does the end of Leviticus 10:7 say that they do?

What can turn God’s glory from a blessing into a curse? Leviticus 10:1–7 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when we approach the Lord in our own way, His glory becomes a curse to us rather than a blessing. 

It must have seemed like a good idea to Nadab and Abihu. God has just displayed His glory. His people have just worshiped Him. Why not offer some burning incense in front of the tabernacle for all the people to rejoice in before Him? 

Deadly worship. But in the worship of God, it is never a good idea to do anything that isn’t God’s idea for us to do that in His worship. Leviticus 10:1 calls the fire strange (NKJ “profane”) and explains that by saying, “which He had not commanded them.” 

Here are 40% of the priestly family. On the first day after their ordination had been completed. Seven days’ worth of special sin offerings have been made for them. “The anointing oil of YHWH was upon” them (cf. Leviticus 10:7). If anyone could ever have been permitted to offer just a little of their own addition to the prescribed worship, it would be they. 

But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? YHWH says that if we come in our own way despises His holiness and denies His glory (Leviticus 10:3). And no amount of seeming worshipfulness or sincerity can compensate for that.

Christless worship. Indeed, we have been hearing for months, from the beginning of Leviticus, that all that the Lord has given as the way of worship is really coming through Christ. The tabernacle, the priesthood, the sacrifices—all were shadow-pictures of Christ. To come to God in any other way than what He has commanded is to come without Christ!

This explains a shocking detail in Leviticus 10:2. The fire comes out from YHWH to devour them. It passes over the mercy seat, out of the holy of holies, past the altar of incense, past the lampstand, past the table of showbread, out the front of the tent, and consumed them. Even the mercy seat could not save them. Without Christ, the glory of God is a curse, not a blessing. 

And the supernatural nature of this cursing fire is all-the-more highlighted by an easy-to-miss detail in Leviticus 10:5. The fire that consumed Nadab and Abihu was focused so particularly upon them that their holy clothing is so intact that it can carry their corpses out of the camp. This was a display of God’s glory like in Leviticus 9:24. But without Christ, the glory of God is a curse, not a blessing.

Mournful worship. What a mercy the end of Leviticus 10:3 is: “so Aaron held his peace.” Many have responded with indignation at the idea that sincerely offered worship deserves God’s wrath and curse if it comes in actions not commanded by God. But God gives Aaron the grace to hold his peace, even when it has cost his sons their lives. He, Eleazar, and Ithamar can’t go out mustn’t follow ordinary mourning rituals, because their hats and garments are holy (Leviticus 10:6). They must all hold their peace.

So the providence of God requires others to do what Aaron and his remaining sons would otherwise do. Aaron’s cousins are permitted to come and retrieve the bodies (Leviticus 10:4-5). And it leaves the mourning to their “brethren, the whole house of Israel” (Leviticus 10:6). In this way, the passage teaches us how we should all respond to manmade worship and God’s curse upon it. Not with indifference or complacency. Not with self-righteousness. But with humility and mourning that the Name of God would be defamed in the midst of His people’s worship. 

Our patient God. The Lord is a merciful God. Slow to anger. Longsuffering. One need only to look at the mess of manmade worship that is offered in the church—from the papists and the eastern churches, to the worldly (“relevant”?) worship of so many evangelicals, to the liturgies full of supposedly wise “instructive” additions by some who even call themselves Reformed. When God does not incinerate all these worshipers, we do not conclude that they are somehow not committing the same sin as Nadab and Abihu. Rather, we conclude that God is merciful and patient! And therefore, He is all the more worthy of being worshiped only in the way that He has commanded.

How do we treat God as holy in the actions of worship? How do we treat Him as holy in the manner in which we do the actions? What place does mourning over worship sins have in your thoughts and prayers for the church?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have made the way to Yourself in Christ. And we thank You that You have given us the actions of worship by which we may know that we are coming through Him. Grant also that Your Spirit would give us true faith in Him to come to You sincerely from our hearts in those actions that You have commanded, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

No comments:

Post a Comment