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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

October 10, 2018

Leviticus 9-10:4

  1. Verses 1-14. After the seven-day ordination of Aaron and his sons, they begin the priestly work. The first order of business was the offerings. Aaron and his sons were to bring their sin and burnt offerings, and the other Israelites were to bring their burnt, sin, fellowship and grain offerings as well and prepare to sacrifice them at the altar. Moses tells them to assemble before the tent of meeting so that the glory of God might appear before them. Moses instructs Aaron to go to the altar and make the sacrifices and offerings for himself and the people. Aaron slaughters the calf as a sin offering and his sons brought the blood of the calf to him. Aaron dipped his finger in the blood and put the blood on the horns of the altar. The rest of the blood was poured out on the base of the altar. Aaron then burns/smokes the fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offerings. The flesh and the skin were burned outside of the camp. Aaron then slaughtered the burnt offerings, and his sons handed him the blood of that offering. He splashed the blood of the burnt offerings on the side of the altar. His sons then handed him the burnt offering piece by piece including the head, and he burned it on the altar. Aaron also washed the internal organs and burned them on top of the burnt offerings. These two offerings were for the priests.

  2. Verses 15-21. The next offerings were for the people. Aaron took the goat for the sin offering and slaughtered it. He then took the burnt offerings for the people along with a handful of the grain offerings and burns them on the altar. He then slaughtered the ox and the ram for the fellowship offerings. Aaron sons handed him the blood, and Aaron splashed the blood against the sides of the altar. He took the fat portions, the fat tail, the layer of fat, the kidneys, and the long lobe of the liver and laid them on top of the breast of the ox and ram. He then burned the fat on the altar. Aaron then waved the breast and the right thigh before the Lord.

  3. Verses 22-24. Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. After making the offerings for the people, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out of the tent of meetings, they blessed the people again, as they blessed the people the glory of God appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the glory of God and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. When the people saw the glory of God and the fire, they shouted for joy and fell down and worshipped God. From this point, the fire of the Lord was never to go out.

  4. Leviticus 10:1-4. We now move immediately from that scene of triumph into a scene of tragedy. On the very day that this tremendous breakthrough occurred in the camp of Israel, tragedy strikes and a sudden and shocking manifestation of judgment occurs. Aaron’s sons prepare incense that are not according to what God commanded. They receive instant judgment. This sin on the part of these two priests was not a sin of ignorance but one of presumption. They knew better. It wasn't that they were simply doing something at which they had no idea God would be offended. They had been told emphatically that he would be offended. If you look back at Exodus 30, you find in that chapter instructions for the construction of the altar of incense, where the incense was to be burned. In Verse 7 we are told, “And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall bum it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” (Exodus 30:7-8 RSV) And then in Verse 9, “You shall offer no unholy incense thereon,” (Exodus 30:9a RSV). The Hebrew word translated “strange” means “unauthorized, foreign, or profane.” God not only rejected their sacrifice; He found it so offensive that He consumed the two men with fire.

  5. After Nadab and Abihu were killed, Moses explained to Aaron why God had done such a harsh thing: “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’” (Leviticus 10:3). The exact nature of the profane fire isn’t known, but, since it was the fire that was unauthorized, it could be that Nadab and Abihu were burning the incense with fire of their own making rather than taking fire from the altar, as specified in Leviticus 19:12. Or it could have been that the two men came into the tabernacle drunk and therefore could not remember what was a violation and what was not (Leviticus l0:8-9). Whatever it was the men did to render the offering profane; it was a sign of their disregard for the utter holiness of God and the need to honor and obey Him in solemn and holy fear. Their carelessness and irreverence were their downfall. In judging Nadab and Abihu for their strange fire, God was making a point to all the other priests who would serve in His tabernacle---and later, in His temple--and to us, as well. What is the issue here? Everything God commanded had a purpose and specific symbolism and to deviate from it, was to teach something that wasn’t true. God had said that the incense to be offered was a peculiar kind--frankincense. Frankincense never yields its fragrance until it is burned. This is a very instructive lesson for us. Incense, in the Scriptures, is always a picture of prayer. It is a beautiful picture. As the clouds of incense arose before the sanctuary in the evening air, they were a picture to all the people of how the prayers and thanksgiving of our hearts ascend before the God of glory. Incense is intended to be a picture of the prayer and commitment arising out of obedient and thankful hearts. And frankincense pictures, not merely thankfulness for the ordinary blessings of life, but, primarily, thankfulness for the hardships and the difficulties which burn us, the “fiery trials” we must pass through which Peter mentions in his first letter (1 Peter 4:12), the ordeals of our lives. That is what God is trying to teach us--that it is a sweet, fragrant odor, a delight to him, to see a heart that is filled with praise and thanksgiving because of the trials we have passed through, a heart which has learned to rejoice in the fact that God has provided opportunity in these difficult times for us to manifest his character, and has taught us great (though oftentimes painful) lessons about ourselves through them. This is what delights the heart of God. And this is what God is trying to teach by the prescribed ritual of offering frankincense each evening and morning. But that lesson is marred and altered, and we are taught a false idea about God by the offering of some other kind of perfume. If perfume is a picture of our happiness and our thankfulness then mere perfume of some other sort would teach that God exists only to make us feel good, that he is there only to produce a modicum of human happiness. The implication of that notion is that whatever makes us temporarily happy is from God.

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