Friday, September 29, 2023

2023.09.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 10:4–20

Read Leviticus 10:4–20

Questions from the Scripture text: 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? To whom does YHWH speak in Leviticus 10:8? Who is not to drink what (Leviticus 10:9)? When? What will happen to them if they do? To what period of the Aaronic priesthood will this apply? What two types of distinctions will be important for not provoking God’s wrath (Leviticus 10:10)? What other responsibility will the priests have (Leviticus 10:11)? To whom does Moses speak in Leviticus 10:12? What does he tell them to eat? Without what? Where? Why? Why must it be they (Leviticus 10:13)? What else should they eat, in what place, with whom, and why (Leviticus 10:14)? From which offerings (Leviticus 10:15)? For what period of the Aaronic priesthood? What did Moses ask after in Leviticus 10:16? What had happened to it? How did he respond? Why is he angry (Leviticus 10:17)? What does their eating the flesh of the congregation’s sin offering display, in part? What signifies which sin offerings they are to eat (Leviticus 10:18)? What does Aaron respond about the propriety of eating his share (Leviticus 10:19)? How does Moses respond (Leviticus 10:20)?

What must those who lead God’s people’s worship do? Leviticus 10:4–20 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seventeen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that those who lead God’s people in worship must follow and teach God’s own instructions for His worship and His people. 

The beginning of this chapter taught a critical lesson: coming near God is very dangerous! When we read that in black and white, or say it out loud, it sounds quite obvious. A Christian is, by definition, someone who knows that there is only one safe way to come near to God: in Jesus Christ. But in the mystifying folly of our remaining fleshliness, much of the worship of evangelical Christians—the very ones who most emphasize coming near to God only in Christ—draws near to God with little care for whether the worship that they are offering is right.

Restoring the right condition for worship. What Israel must learn immediately is that the sin and death have defiled the tabernacle. Now, it must be ritually cleansed. Distinguishing between the clean and unclean will therefore be the subject of chapters 11–15. At that point, chapter 16 gives instruction for the Day of Atonement, the annual cleansing and re-consecrating of people, priest, and tabernacle. That chapter begins by recalling this one, before chapters 17–22 teach Israel to distinguish between the common and the holy. 

Only the holy can come near to the Lord in safety. Only what He has consecrated to Himself must come near.  Anything else is unholy and treats God as unholy. But by those who draw near to Him, He must be regarded as holy. That which is from man, that which is strange/foreign before God, cannot come near to God.

Following the right logistics of worship. But Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar don’t have time right now to receive the cleanliness code and the holiness code. The Lord refers to the whole of chapters 11–22 in Leviticus 10:10-11, but there are immediate applications to be made lest the three remaining priests die (Leviticus 10:9)! So, God comes near in mercy and gives the specific instruction that they must have for the moment: bereaved priests who are yet on the first full day of their priestly service. 

They are consecrated and can’t leave the tabernacle, so Mishael and Elzaphan must dispose of the bodies (Leviticus 10:4-5, without touching them lest they become unclean). Since they are consecrated to the tabernacle at the moment, they also cannot remove the priestly garments by tearing them in mourning, or the priestly headgear to put ashes upon their head in mourning (Leviticus 10:6-7). Since they are consecrated to the tabernacle at the moment, they may not drink alcohol in mourning (Leviticus 10:8-9). Just as a king must leave strong drink to its proper user and use (cf. Proverbs 31:4–7), so now must also these priests. Furthermore, there are specific foods that they are to eat in the holy place, and that are also for their families (Leviticus 10:12-15; cf. Leviticus 6:16–18, Leviticus 6:26; Leviticus 7:6, Leviticus 7:28–35). Whatever is leftover is to be burned. 

Offering a right heart for worship. So, when Moses checks to see that everything has been done correctly, he is angry to learn that they have not eaten the sin offering of the people (Leviticus 10:16-19). But Aaron’s explanation was not that they were doing their own thing, but that their feasting in behalf of the people would not be acceptable before YHWH for a people who were having to mourn in behalf of him (Leviticus 10:19). 

If the remainder is to be burned, it is valid that the remainder be 100%, so Aaron had not been technically incorrect. For Moses’s part, he had missed this in his renewed (understandably) focus on exact procedure. But Aaron had caught it —not because he wasn’t following procedure, but because he was following it now with not only the mind but the heart. Regarding God as holy (cf. Leviticus 10:3), his main concern was that his and his son’s hearts and actions, both of which are “in the sight of YHWH” would be “accepted” (“good”) in His sight.

O that we might learn this lesson! Not only to draw near to the LORD with technically correct actions, but seeking that the conduct of our heart would be acceptable to Him as well (cf. Psalm 19:14)! 

How do you fall into unclean or unholy living, becoming unready to worship God? Even though worship is much simplified, with Jesus leading it from the true tabernacle in glory, we continue to be in danger of not following His prescription for how to worship: what are some ways that this is done, or that you are in danger of doing? In what ways have you been zealous and diligent to interact with God Himself in the public worship from your heart?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You bring us near to Yourself in public worship. Grant that we would live clean and holy lives, that we would come to public worship only by actions You have commanded always with sincerely appropriate offerings of our hearts to You, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

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

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