In our study of Leviticus chapter ten, we see the importance of proper order in worship and we are reminded that proper worship is determined by what God desires.
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But Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aharon, each took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and offered unauthorized fire before ADONAI, something he had not ordered them to do. At this, fire came forth from the presence of ADONAI and consumed them, so that they died in the presence of ADONAI.
In this passage, we see the effects of improper worship and that is death. Nadav and Avihu were priests that were consecrated but they wanted to worship God by burning incense but they did so in the wrong manner, at the wrong place, and without God instructing them to do so. We see that, when they did this, fire came out from the Lord and devoured them. We make think that this is rather harsh as they were trying to worship God but, in doing so the way they did, they made the worship about themselves and what they wanted to do instead of what God desired and pleasing Him. The same type of thing is happening all around us today in churches where worship has become a show to draw people in for what they can get out of it instead of true worship that is pleasing to God.
Moshe said to Aharon, "This is what ADONAI said: 'Through those who are near me I will be consecrated, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" Aharon kept silent.
Here, Moshe explained to Aharon why his sons had been killed and we see that there are no exceptions to the commands of God as Moshe tells him that all who draw near to God must recognize that God is holy and the purpose must be to bring glory to God. The same thing is true today as God is still holy and we need to glorify Him in our worship and not some show or rockstar preacher. It is also important to notice that the reaction of Aharon was silence and that silence was to honor God. Aharon, in his silence, was acknowledging that God is in fact holy and that what was done was proper. That, my friends, is a tremendous display of faith and trust in the Lord.
Moshe called Misha'el and Eltzafan, sons of 'Uzi'el Aharon's uncle, and told them, "Come here, and carry your cousins away from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp." They approached and carried them in their tunics out of the camp, as Moshe had said.
This passage reminds us that the camp of Israel was to represent life and the removal of the bodies from the camp was a restoration of the proper order of things.
Then Moshe told Aharon and his sons El'azar and Itamar, "Don't unbind your hair or tear your clothes in mourning, so that you won't die and so that ADONAI won't be angry with the entire community. Rather, let your kinsmen - the whole house of Isra'el - mourn, because of the destruction ADONAI brought about with his fire. Moreover, don't leave the entrance to the tent of meeting, or you will die, because ADONAI's anointing oil is on you."
Here, we see that Aharon and the remaining priests were not to mourn as mourning is an act of disorder and we see that disorder in worship brings about death as well as bringing the anger of God onto His people. Then, they were instructed to remain at the entrance to the tent of meeting and, in effect, Moshe was telling them to not be distracted and to remember that God is first with nothing (including family) being more important. For more on that subject, check out our study on the topic.
ADONAI said to Aharon, "Don't drink any wine or other intoxicating liquor, neither you nor your sons with you, when you enter the tent of meeting, so that you will not die. This is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations, so that you will distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and so that you will teach the people of Isra'el all the laws ADONAI has told them through Moshe."
Once again, we see that improper worship will bring about death but we also see three things that will come from proper worship. Proper worship will bring us discernment so that we can see all things from the perspective of God and this change of perspective will bring change into our lives. This change to be more aligned with the purposes of god will bring about blessing and we also see that we will receive revelation that we can share with others. This sharing of revelation with others is so that they can also be blessed by becoming more aligned with the purposes of God.
Moshe said to Aharon and to El'azar and Itamar, his remaining sons, "Take the grain offering left from the offerings for ADONAI made by fire, and eat it without leaven next to the altar, because it is especially holy. Eat it in a holy place, because it is your and your sons' share of the offerings for ADONAI made by fire; for this is what I have been ordered. The breast that was waved and the thigh that was raised you are to eat in a clean place - you, your sons and your daughters with you; for these are given as your and your children's share of the sacrifices of the peace offerings presented by the people of Isra'el. They are to bring the raised thigh and the waved breast, along with the offerings of fat made by fire, and wave it as a wave offering before ADONAI; then it will belong to you and your descendants with you as your perpetual share, as ADONAI has ordered."
Now, we see God's provision for the priests and their families as the priests were to eat the remainder of the grain offerings while they were in the designated place. We are reminded that the grain offering was related to the worship of the people and we see that it is most holy to God and therefore was not to leave the tabernacle area. We also see that the donations of the thigh and the breast of the wave offering were given to the priests and their families to eat but it was to be eaten in a pure place. This speaks of a place that was not spiritually contaminated and we are reminded that purity is associated with being blessed by God.
Then Moshe carefully investigated what had happened to the goat of the sin offering and discovered that it had been burned up. He became angry with El'azar and Itamar, the remaining sons of Aharon, and asked, "Why didn't you eat the sin offering in the area of the sanctuary, since it is especially holy? He gave it to you to take away the guilt of the community, to make atonement for them before ADONAI. Look! Its blood wasn't brought into the sanctuary! You should have eaten it there in the sanctuary, as I ordered."
In this passage, we see that Moshe saw something that was out of order in the worship and it brought about intense anger but we see that Moshe did not ask Aharon about it even though Aharon was the high priest in charge of all of the priests. The sin offering was to be eaten by the priests as instructed by God but it was not and we remember that this offering was to atone for the sins of the people. The translation here says it was to take away the "guilt" but that is an unfortunate translation as it was meant to take away the iniquity (sin) of the people and not the feeling of guilt. We may ask why Moshe did not speak to Aharon about this since he was responsible and we are reminded that, although Aharon was not allowed to show outward signs of mourning, he was still surely grieving inside for the loss of his two sons. Most likely, Moshe did not want to add to the grief that he knew Aharon was feeling.
Aharon answered Moshe, "Even though they offered their sin offering and burnt offering today, things like these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have pleased ADONAI?" On hearing this reply, Moshe was satisfied.
Even though Moshe had not spoke to Aharon about this matter, we see that Aharon gives the explanantion. He says that they offered the required sacrifices even on a day when he had lost his sons but the eating of the offerings would not have been pleasing to God. The reason is that God's people are to bless God with joy and thanksgiving after finishing with the eating and Aharon recognized that he could not do so with the grief that he had in his heart. Because of that grief and the grief that his sons must have felt, they did not eat the sacrifice but instead burnt it up and Aharon says that this was good in the eyes of the Lord as God desires sincerity in worship and not some manufactured emotion. We again see the humility of Moshe in the fact that, when he heard the explanation, he agreed with Aharon and with God.