Leviticus: what in blazes…?

Cover to Cover

Reading: Leviticus 8:1-10:20

Focus: Leviticus 10:1-5

There are times when we question the laws that govern our society: minors (under 18 years) cannot purchase cigarettes, but they can smoke; in Melbourne (Victoria) only a qualified electrician may change broken light bulbs otherwise inviting a possible fine (like $10); the penalty for a life sentence is a maximum of 25 years…the list goes on. However, the bulk of laws are in place to oversee the welfare and benefit of the general populace.

In their duties as priests, the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, came to offer fire before the Lord. However, having offered “unauthorised fire” they were consumed by the Lord’s holy fire (a bolt of lightning?) struck and killed them. It’s a harsh story, one which begs the question, “Was it really necessary?” Aaron is left speechless. It is only in the words of Moses that we glimpse a hint of the reason.

To appear before God, in His presence, was no small deal. As God had instructed the Israelites on their practice, it is full of specific details that were not to be overlooked; we may see it as overkill, but the simple fact comes down to this: to approach a holy God, one must be holy. Strictly speaking, for the Israelites, holiness was a heart condition expressed in practical means—such as those God had instructed—such as those disregarded by Nadab and Abihu.

As one commentator likened the actions of Nadab and Abihu, “It is as if a Christian minister in the middle of celebrating the Holy Communion were to inject rites or objects associated with the occult.” The point it taken further to those in positions of authority and responsibility. There are protocols and procedures implemented, not merely for appearance sake, but purposed for the welfare of all those involved.

Moses himself never saw the Promised Land because he stepped out of bounds. Leaders throughout the ages have been punished for their lack of responsibility. Each one of us, I’m sure, has seen or experienced the consequences when the rules were disregarded. The greatest amount of freedom is found when we appreciate the boundaries that we live within, for our own benefit and the benefit of those around us.

Next Reading: Leviticus 11:1-13:59