Saturday, May 11, 2013

Playing by the rules (Lev 10)

The Ark of the Covenant representing God's Presence and His

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the LordAnd Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:‘By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people, I must be glorified.’”So Aaron held his peace. (Lev 10:1-3)

The statement "playing by the rules" takes my mind almost always to a courtroom drama. Someone has broken the rules and the judge has the authority and responsibility to administer Justice. I enjoy courtroom drama shows because the process of justice prevailing brings out the joy of a battle won. I think we usually understand the seriousness of a crime based on the severity of the sentence. Justice prevails when deserved punishment or reward is administered based on moral standards*. So not playing by the rules of the land usually comes with a price tag, some harder to pay than others.

Nadab and Abihu 's price tag for breaking the rules, cost them their life. In our story today we see a startling courtroom drama  which ended with a death sentence. The context of this story features right after the priest have been taught the rules to follow in making themselves acceptable before a Holy God and the priests, Aaaron and his sons, have gone through the ordination process. The story reveals that Nadab and Abihu disobey God by offering up incense outside of the approved manner. God's response to this disobedience is immediate death.

The Ark of the Covenant
The severity of this verdict only allows our finite minds to understand a little better the reality of God's Holiness, "“This is what the Lord spoke, saying:‘By those who come near Me, I must be regarded as holy. I think this incident, although tragic and severe, helped bring the Priests to a place of respectful fear of God, the Lord says, "And before all the people, I must be glorified". It more than likely provided  understanding in a very real sense, the penalty of sin (breaking God's rules)...which is Death (Rom 6:23a). These lessons I must assume, did not only stay among the priest but translated to the people of Israel. They get another chance to see that God although all loving, is a God of justice. A justice executed according to His standard and not theirs. God was able to reiterate the fact that they were a set apart Nation, different from their neighbors and He was their king. So playing by God's rules is a blessing (Deu 26:16-19), it is an invitation for Israel to freedom...freedom to live the best life possible in the new land they will be receiving.

Can we venture to apply this same invitation to freedom to our lives today. God the creator of the universe is calling us to enter into His Holiness, like He did with Israel. He is inviting us into the beauty of a life lived according to His rules.  At first glance, this story seems to bring out God's cruelty but actually it passionately reveals who our God is. He in a God who is all knowing even outside of time, who has created us to enjoy the very joy of who He is. Psalm 100:2-3 very beautifully says,
Serve the Lord with gladness;Come before His presence with singing.Know that the Lord, He is God;It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
This courtroom drama only allows me to ponder, and stand in awe, that a God so perfect, all sufficient will want so desperately to reach out to me and invite me into His completeness. I share God's invitation letter to you, as it is written in John 17:20-24
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (John 17:20-24)-NLT
...there is no greater comfort than this...will you come in....will you say yes to God's best for you, which is Himself?
....This is Jesus prayer for you beloved, as He lays out this Heavenly Invitation. Now this is true comfort for the soul. Until next time enjoy another invitation into the Holiness of God, as illustrated by Pastor Donnie McClurkin in his song "Holy".

* "Justice" according to

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