LEVITICUS 10:1 – 12:8 and MATTHEW 26:47–75
After the dramatic demonstration of the fire of God in the previous chapter coming forth from the altar before the veil we have this account of the strange fire that was offered by Nadab and Abihu. What was this strange fire and why such a severe judgment? We mentioned previously about lightly regarding the things of God, or being presumptuous in our approach unto God (Exo 35-36 Commentary).This seems to be the case here. God is very jealous over some of the “types” or established patterns we see in scripture. God would have slain Moses if his son were not to be circumcised (Exo 4:24-26). This makes clear the significance of circumcision and the message it conveys. As David was preparing to establish a new order of worship in the establishing of the Tabernacle of David upon Mt. Zion, God smote Uzzah for the putting forth of his hands in trying to steady the Ark.
1Ch 13:9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
1Ch 13:10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God
There is the account of Achan in Josh 7 and the New Testament account of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. It is the goodness of God that man has the privilege of engaging and approaching God but it must always be done in God’s order. The Levitical approach to the office of the Tabernacle (for the priests) has been established in such meticulous detail to serve as a precedent in how God is to be represented. It is not to be trivialized or presumed. This event took place at the Altar of Incense which separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies. How is the message of holiness characterized today? There are many who take issue with the requirements and standards of God as something that is outdated and not meant for today’s generation of believers. People who hold such standards are deemed to be out of touch and not relevant in being able to engage today’s culture. There will be another account that we will see in the future where a group of priests will take issue with Moses due to his lifting up a standard of holiness (Num 16).
The slaying of Nadab and Abihu was a most sobering matter, especially on the heels of God manifesting His glory upon the Tabernacle (Lev 9:23-24). Today, we are looking forward to a mighty move of God where God’s glory will be seen upon the earth (Isa 60). The priests of these last days must never presume upon God but be capable “caretakers” of His presence. This account should serve as a “high warning” for that which is to come. God is going to demonstrate His power and glory in a mighty way, and we want to pray that we can be faithful priests who properly steward the things of God in accordance to His terms.
In verse 3 we see the character of Aaron on display. One can only imagine what it must have been like to suddenly lose two sons. Moses gave right counsel in stating that what his sons did was a clear violation of how a priest was to approach the holy things of God. There are a few quick points to make here: Moses no doubt, had to be sympathetic to Aaron’s loss however he had to speak TRUTH to this situation as the priest of God. An overly sympathetic spirit would connect with Aaron’s sense of loss which could result in feelings and thoughts that might view God as being a bit harsh and unfair. Perhaps thoughts like “Lord, what Nadab and Abihu did were wrong but did you really have to go to that extreme in judging?” By the way, is not this what the serpent did with Eve in Gen 3:4?
Gen 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
The emotions and soul of Eve became engaged resulting in her partaking of the deception. This is the root of many false doctrines today. They perceive that a loving God could never judge eternally. Moses was very clear to Aaron as to why this trespass involving his sons resulted in judgment. He spoke to Aaron’s spirit and did not allow the “soul and emotions” to take over. Aaron stayed silent and did not take issue with God’s actions. This is a picture of the true priestly function, especially when it involves the presence and holiness of God. The Word of God (Truth) separates the soul from the spirit and gets to the heart (Heb 4:12). This is not to say that Moses was not feeling for Aaron however he did not allow his emotions to get in the way of what took place. He fully knew why God moved and deemed it justified. In gauging Aaron’s response we can see that he fully understood as well. This account helps shed light in understanding the distinction between the soul and spirit of a man.
The balance of the chapter covers the offering that had to be made for the transgression of Nadab and Abihu. God reiterates to Aaron and his sons the responsibility of how the holy things of God are to be handled. I am sure they needed little reminder after what just took place but it helps us to appreciate and not take for granted the role that we are called to have as priests in these last days.
The next several chapters (11-15) have to do with the separation from the clean and the unclean. There are extensive examples given that would have relevance for their day. The Lord uses the example of clean and unclean beasts as the primary heading in making a clear distinction between the clean and unclean.
Lev 11:3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
How do these chapters speak to us today? In our walk as a believer we quickly understand that we live in a world that is contrary to the values of the kingdom. How do we live in such an environment, how can we engage and be salt to a lost and dying world? First and foremost we have to know how to come out and “be ye separate”.
2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
How is this best achieved? A primary clue is given amongst the clean animals listed in Lev 11:3. We are to take note of an animal that is cloven-footed and chews the cud. A cloven footed animal speaks of a divided walk. (One who walks not after the things of the world) An animal that chews the cud speaks of a person who meditates and ruminates over the things of God, specifically His Word. The key in being clean and separate is the ability to internalize the Word of God.
Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
The above two verses sums up the matter effectively. One can separate from the ungodly to the extent he or she meditates and ponders over the things of God. Their walk will also be distinct as a result of their consecrated efforts. One of the plagues of a busy life is its ability to strip man of his opportunity to reflect and meditate upon the things of God. This busyness will minimize the internalizing of God’s Word into one’s spirit, sapping him of needed strength and guidance. It leaves man more prone and vulnerable to the world and its ways to the point where one begins to align into its current and flow.
These 5 chapters in Leviticus (11-15) speak to this portion of our walk with God. There can be individual lessons from each of the instructions that God gives to Moses but for us we want to see the big picture and implement its modern day application. The primary message of Separation seen in chapters 11-15 is a critical message for today. These instructions were to help Israel understand their need to be a different and peculiar people amongst the other nations of their day. For us it is no different.
Let us take this message of being separate a little deeper. The importance of meditating upon God’s Law cannot be understated (Psa 1:2, Psa 19:7-10). In fact, it was something Joshua was instructed to do as he was about to establish his leadership role.
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
There is a level of separation that pertains to the world from the church and then there is an even deeper separation and distinction that is seen amongst believers. We have seen this throughout the Book of Exodus in coming to understand the truths of the Tabernacle and the priesthood. When one meditates upon the Law of God it results in deep internal changes and perspective as to who God is. One who experiences this working is prone to alter and make changes to their life and ministry.
The interests of God now come front and center, even at the expense of family and close relations. The church is dividing today on several different issues. In my view it can be narrowed to two primary areas of separation. Separation based on Vision and separation based on Doctrine. My focus for now is on Doctrine. An understanding of good doctrine will help “today’s priest” to exercise right judgment. Good doctrine has its foundation in God’s Law. One who meditates upon God’s Law will see things more from God’s view and will be faithful in ministering before God and the people accordingly.
Remember, in chapter 10 we saw God’s judgment come upon Aaron’s sons in a dramatic way. How would the church of today react if something like that were to happen? Would there be the danger of the church becoming too enmeshed in the world’s system to see and understand why God would move in such a way? A proper understanding of God and His ways would help us to see the true picture. It will help keep us from being governed by circumstance, soul and emotion which is often the case in many church viewpoints on elements of doctrine. In the lead up to the death of Jesus he often was challenged on matters of doctrine. As He responded and upheld doctrine a wedge of separation amongst the so called “churched” widened. I feel it will be no different in our day.
These chapters help to drive home the point of the need for separation from the world. It is interesting when considering the impact of some of the final messages of the Lord, before the Cross. He was putting people, the church and nations into two groups of categories. This is a clear message for the last days as well. It is a message of the need to separate from the world (Rev 18:4). This message is clear and very much understood. This message is also for the church, because it too is dividing. A key for us is to seek to live a separated life from the world (cloven footed animal) and meditate upon God’s Word and Law (chewing the cud) (Josh 24:15, Rev 3:16, Rev 22:11, 1 King 18:21). Let us ever be mindful of the tragedy of Solomon. It was his inability to separate from the world that resulted in his disastrous end. All it takes is one small area of undealt with heart issues:
Son 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Solomon ended up being a very sad fulfillment of his own exhortation.
Matthew 26 – Read day 39 commentary