John Carter – April 8, 2013 – Leviticus 9:22-10:3 – Topical
Aaron, Nadab & Abihu – Stand Behind Jesus
When driving in the snow the safest place to be is in the tracks of the snow plow. Why? Because the snow plow is moving the snow off the road, and while in the tracks of the snow plow your wheels are in the best possible position to stay in contact with the road. There is still a certain degree of danger, but the danger is multiplied when you attempt to get out from behind the snow plow.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, Man & Woman. And it was GOOD! But in the beginning Man failed and the rebellion began. Yet God immediately promised an end to the rebellion. Men came and died. Time passed. But still there was no end to the rebellion and the most promising of people to end the rebellion failed just like their father Adam.
Fourteen hundred years before Christ died on the cross everything seemed to be changing for the better. A people chosen by God had been rescued out of the bondage that they found themselves in while they were in Egypt. It was Moses whom God chose to lead this newly forming nation out of Egypt and into the Land promised to them. But before this transition could take place God had to establish a covenant with this new nation and declare to them how they are to relate to him. Because God is a Holy god, and the Israelites were utterly sinful.
IN the midst of this covenant making God established how to find forgiveness and how to approach him. The regulations were rigorous, but they were clear. Certain times, certain people, and certain ways. And most importantly, the people must ensure that they are positioning themselves behind the mediator that was being provided by God.
This is where we step into our passage. The day the events of this passage take place is the first day that Israel’s High Priest and mediator will offer a sacrifice for the nation that they may be found acceptable before God. This day will not only be marked by joy but also by tragedy.
Leviticus 9:22-10:3 (ESV)
9:22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.10:1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.
Behind the Plow – Offering, Acceptance, Response
Looking back at the picture of the snow plow we should see the safety and wisdom in staying behind the plow. Just like there is safety and wisdom in staying behind the mediator provided by God.
In 9:22 we see Aaron completing the process of presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and finally the peace offering. Through the use of typology we can begin to see a picture of Christ’s atoning work that was accomplished on the cross. The sin offering points to the forgiveness of sins, the burnt offering points to the covering that the worshiper has received, and the peace offering point to the peace that has been established between the worshiper and God. As far as Israel could see, this was the end to the rebellion But on the cross we find our forgiveness, our covering, and our peace with God. And this is the good news that had been promised back in Genesis 3:15 when an end of the rebellion was spoken of.
In Leviticus 9:4 + 6 we find out that God is going to display His glory. In 9:22 Aaron presents the offerings that God has command to be given. In 9:23 the glory of the Lord appears. In 9:24 the LORD accepts the offering. Out of his glory there pours forth fire which absolutely consumes the offering. This is a terrifying event. God poured out his wrath on the animal sacrifices and Aaron walks away unscathed, even acceptable before the LORD. Consider Elijah & the Baal Worshipers (1 Kings 18:38), or after David’s Census Brings Pestilence, (1 Chron. 21:36), or when God displayed his Shekinah Glory at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. These were not insignificant events. Or even common place. This is an active display of God’s authority and power. Because Aaron was obedient, Israel found acceptance.
The only proper response that Israel had in light of this acceptance was to shout and fall on their faces. Verse 24 must be seen at the height which it is intended to be. Israel came Face to Face with the Holy God of Israel who brought them out of Egypt. With fear, trembling and joy they shouted. In an act of obeisance they found their faces to the ground.
Without the Plow
A few weeks ago I went to the snow with my family. As my boys and I were building a downhill sled run I keep walking the same path back to the top of the sled run. I was doing this because the snow was very deep where we were at. Waste deep at some point for my boys. By walking the same path my boys would be able to return to the top of the hill with much greater ease then foraging their own trail through the deep snow. Unfortunately they were so excited about having another turn that they keep trying to go every possible way besides the way I had established for them. And to be honest, I was getting mad. They were disregarding my act of love and provision. Because this was just a silly thing I eventually had to apologize to my kids for getting mad at them. But this is a simple picture of what we see happening in Lev 10:1-3.
Many pages have been written about the strange fire that was offered by Nadab and Abihu in verse 1. But our time is wasted if that is all we see in this verse. More importantly we must see that N&A are offering something that God did not command. It is very clear throughout all of exodus and Leviticus about what God has required of His people. Aaron just completed giving an acceptable offering, but N&A are brash enough to bring something that was not commanded. You could say that N&A are trying to get to the top of the sled run by picking their own path. Or they are trying to drive in the snow but without following the snow plow.
While the offerings of Aaron were accepted, the offering of N&A were not. This failure to obey the command of God cost them their life. Disobedience is not a trite thing. When Korah rebelled in the wilderness we remember that his family was swallowed up by the earth (Num 16), but it was the 250 men who were offering incense that were consumed by fire. And although the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts was not by fire we should understand that God hold his glory and honor in high esteem.
Aarons offerings were acceptable because they represented Christ and a right offering that was demand by the LORD. However, Nadab and Abihu had an offering that did not represent Christ, therefore it did not satisfy the LORD’s requirements for a righteous offering. N&A were rejected by God because they rejected God’s commands.
We either stand behind the substitutionary offerings, or we stand in their place. In v.22-24 we see Aaron obeying the command of the Lord and offering the proper offerings in the proper way at the proper time. What Aaron did was to trust in the substitution that was being offered by God himself. We too must trust in the substitution that is being offered by God himself. That substitution is the work of Christ that was done on the cross where Christ was consumed in place of those who have trusted in Him.
Nadab and Abihu chose to come before God without the substitution that was freely offered. In the case of Aaron’s offerings the animal offerings were consumed. In the case of Nadab and Abihu they were consumed. Why? Because they chose not let the proper offering stand in their place. God will consume all who fail to have Christ stand in their place. And unlike Christ, we cannot stand under the wrath of God. You who are not a believer please seek the forgiveness of God and let Christ stand in your place. You who are believers stop trying to stand where you will fail. We do this by saying things like, ‘I had a bad day because I didn’t read my Bible today’. Living under this legalism fails to recognize that the price has already been paid. It was Aaron who lost his very own children to the same fire that had consumed his offerings. The wrath that consumed Christ, was the wrath that should have been poured out on you and I.
“Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified”-God
Like Aaron we too must be silent at the judgment of those who willfully step out from behind Christ and seek the wrath of God for themselves.
We are living in a profane and unholy culture. Daily our thoughts, actions, and speech drip with rebellion against our very holy God. We have been given a mediator who willfully took on the shame of the cross and the wrath of God. We must not live as if we can bring an offering that is acceptable apart from that which God has commanded.