Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Holy

Reflections on Leviticus

Leviticus 10 relates a story that is sometimes difficult for modern readers. Two of Aaron’s sons offer “unauthorized fire” to the LORD and are killed. This passage reinforces what seems to be a recurrent theme in Leviticus – we can only approach God on His terms.

He says, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored” (v3).

This is a message that modern people need to hear. There is a pervasive notion today that if people just search after God in whatever way seems best to them, He will accept them. That is not how God Almighty works. In the Old Testament days, there was a system in place to approach God, and deviating from it could cost you your life. In the New Testament era, there is a Man through whom we must approach God, and striking out on your own path will cost you your soul. God has condescended to make us a way, and He expects us to follow it.

In verse 6, after the death of two of his sons, Aaron is told that he and his other sons may not even mourn their loss. Why? Because it was a special thing to be allowed to serve the Living God, and when you serve the Lord, you do not serve yourself.

In this part of the story I can’t help but hear echoes of Jesus’ warning: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

In verse 10 the priests are given a rule that is designed to keep them alive: “You must distinguish between the holy and the common.” Only holy things are allowed to come before God, and we are common in every way. That is why the priests have to go to great lengths to even enter the sanctuary (c.f., Lev 8, 16). This is one of the parts of the Mosaic Law that most clearly points to the need for a savior – even after going to such effort to purify themselves, the priests are still just barely acceptable. Something extra would be needed to allow people to approach God.

Verses 16-20 are, to me, quite remarkable. Moses asks why the priests did not eat their appointed portion of the sin offering, and Aaron answered, “‘Would the LORD have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?’

“When Moses heard this, he was satisfied” (v19-20).

I can’t find a rule that says you can’t eat the sacrifice after your kids are killed by God, but Moses thinks this is a good answer. Why?

Aaron demonstrates a principle that we all should take to heart today: When in doubt, treat God as more holy.


soulMerlin said...

I appreciate your belief - but it bothers me - is "God" as you comprehend - a "him" a "her" or both?
If it is both - why do you chose the "him" to describe the possibly undiscribable?

Please view the above as a "searching" question, rather than a confrontational response. I would value any learning.


ChrisB said...

Hi, Soulmerlin. Thanks for dropping by.

I do not believe God has a gender as we think about it, but God's self-disclosure (as I am convinced the Bible is) uses masculine descriptives, so I do as well.

Plus, English doesn't have a neuter gender, and calling people "it" isn't really polite :)

dt said...

Nice post. Good thoughts and questions. dt