Today the priests offer sacrifices before the Lord just as the Lord instructed. “Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
“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 Lord. And 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.’”
The Lord instructed the priests in Exodus 30 not to offer strange incense to Him nor shall they make any for themselves, but it shall be holy for the Lord. The incident with Nadab and Abihu is another strong reminder that we must come to the Lord His way. God has laid out clear instructions for the high priests specifying how to approach Him, and any deviation from that will result in death. This might sound harsh to us, but this is how the Lord is revealing His holiness to the Hebrews whom He just brought out of idolatry filled Egypt. This is the first time the priests are offering sacrifices on behalf of the people, and God expects them to be humble and revere Him as holy. The Lord is not going to allow this blatant disobedience to set the stage for how to approach a Holy God. The Lord is working His plan to reconcile His people to Himself through the priests and the Israelites, through whom the Messiah is coming. Later in the story, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, Paul will write about this reconciliation – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). God’s plan of reconciling us to Himself is not something to take casually. Our sinful nature is so disgusting that it is going to require the horrific death of His only Son to satisfy the wrath that we deserve. God does not want us to take this lightly, as He didn’t want Nadab and Abihu to take His holiness and worship of Him lightly.
We end the reading with the Lord giving instructions on clean and unclean animals. Noah obviously knew which animals were clean as the Lord said to him before the flood, “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female” (Genesis 7:2). Here, in Leviticus 11, God gives more detailed instructions to the Israelites. These rules regarding clean and unclean animals are intended for more than just health benefits for the Israelites. The Lord is setting His people apart from the people around them – “For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
Tomorrow, the Lord gives instructions for treating diseases. Our Creator knows best how to care for His people, and thankfully He has given us a resource to know Him and His guidance for our lives through the Bible – so keep reading! (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)