I gotta say something. Reading the Bible all the way through is hard. What am I supposed to do with all the information about Old Testament sacrifices and regulations and what to do when you have mildew? I'll admit I completely skimmed Leviticus. But a couple weeks ago, I stopped in my tracks when I read this passage and I've been thinking about it ever since.
Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them, and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out of the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:
Among those who approach me
I will show myself holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.' "
Aaron remained silent.
Moses doesn't tell us the reason why Nodab and Abihu burned the wrong incense. The only conclusion I can come to, then, is that it doesn't matter why they did it, but that they did.
I can't help but wonder, though, why such a harsh punishment? They were just getting the hang of this priest thing anyway. They hadn't volunteered for it either. What about second chances?
I have to admit, I haven't completely reconciled this in my mind, which is why I've taken a couple weeks to ponder it, but what I do know is that we have a holy God who expects holiness from His people.
Praise the Lord that He has made the ultimate, perfect sacrifice for us through His Son and all we need to do is accept Him.
All we need to do... Do we take that too lightly? Are we guilty of doing things the way we want, like Nodab and Abihu? Are we taking God's sacrifice for granted?
The more I know your power, Lord,
The more I'm mindful
How casually we speak and sing your name
How often we have come to you
With no fear or wonder
And called upon you only for what we stand to gain
God forbid, that I find you so familiar
That I think of you as less than who you are
God forbid that I should speak of you at all
Without a humble reverence in my heart
Lord, I often talk about your love and mercy
How it seems to me your goodness has no end
It frightens me to think that I could take you for granted
Though you're closer than a brother
You are more than just a friend
You are Father, God Almighty
Lord of lords, you're King of kings
Beyond my understanding,
No less than everything
("God Forbid", Point of Grace, Life, Love, and Other Mysteries)