Scripture: Leviticus 9:1-11:47
We want to do well on a new job. We dress for our position, arrive early, accept tasks, and go above and beyond what our role calls for. Sometimes we don’t get things right though. When we mess up, we may get reprimanded, suspended, or even fired. But put to death, like Nadab and Abihu? It’s hard for our human mind to comprehend their death, yet our human heart must trust God’s sovereignty and obey His instructions.
Remember that Aaron was appointed and anointed as Chief Priest and his sons were set apart so they could minister to God and be His priests (Exodus 28:1). The Levitical line was appointed as priests and placed in charge of the Tabernacle.
In today’s reading, we see the construction of the Tabernacle was completed and pleased the Lord. Moses and Aaron entered the Tabernacle; upon their exit they discovered the glorious presence of the Lord appearing to the whole community. The people were face down praising God and shouting with joy. Yet in an instant, this tremendous sight turned tragic.
"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, different than he had commanded." (10:1)
Aaron’s sons directly disobeyed the Lord’s instructions by starting this different fire. Their disobedience resulted in Nadab and Abihu’s deaths. The incense altar was to burn continually from coals taken from the altar of sacrifice. In the excitement of the moment, the brothers—intentionally or unintentionally—substituted what God desired.
This was becoming a pattern for God’s people (the golden calf situation didn’t turn out well either).
What can we take away from this? Allow no substitutes. Do things God’s way. Disobedience leads to death of some kind. Whether we exchange the comfort of our spouse for the arms of someone else and lose our marriage. Or consistently eat junk food instead of nutritious food and our health fails. Or replace integrity with cutting corners and miss out on a promotion at work … we can be sure that God doesn’t appreciate or bless substitutes. Let’s obey God’s instructions and do things His way.
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