GOD’S PROMISE COMES TRUE: THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARS TO ALL THE PEOPLE.
In Leviticus 9:24, Aaron’s obedience to offer the sacrifices exactly as was prescribed by God through Moses is rewarded. What was promised earlier in Leviticus 9:6 came true- “that the glory of the Lord” may appear to all the people.
All of this prefigures the glory of God being made known to us in the perfect obedience, perfect humanity, perfect submission and perfect sacrifice of Christ (John 1:14; 2 Cor 4:6).
Leviticus 9:22-24 22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.
THE FIRE THAT FUELS THE SACRIFICES AND ILLUMINATES THE TABERNACLE MUST BE FROM THE LORD AND NOT KINDLED BY MAN.
Leviticus 9:24 Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
It is here that we learn the difference between God’s fire and ‘strange fire’.
The fire in the tabernacle came from above. It was of Divine Origin. We can see that the fire represents the work of the Holy Spirit. God was making it clear that He is holy and He is in charge of the Tabernacle. He was the One who would be making and accepting the sacrifices. He would be illuminating the Holy Place. He would be the Shekinah Glory above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holiest of all. The whole Tabernacle was to speak of the glory of Christ.
Nadab and Abihu, like Cain in Gen 4, came to offer God what they thought best, instead of what God required. It was unauthorized fire; fire they had kindled themselves. It was fire of human manufacture. This is called ‘strange fire’ and completely unacceptable to our God who is an all- consuming fire.
Nadab and Abihu had most everything in order according to the Law. They were sons of Aaron, duly consecrated priests and thereby authorized. They put fire in the proper firepans and placed the prescribed incense on it. They made their offering before the Lord. But the fire in their firepans was not the fire that came from God. It was ‘strange fire’, or ‘unauthorized fire’. This was such an offense to God’s holiness that fire quickly came out of the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Perhaps they thought that it made no difference where the fire came from. Fire was fire. However, fire was an indispensable symbol of the holiness of God and the empowering presence of the Spirit of God in the service of the Tabernacle. Remember that the fire that God brought to the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:24) was never to go out (Leviticus 6:12). The sacrifices were to be made by the fire that God gave. We cannot pretend that our work for God is acceptable to God if it is in the energy of our own fire, the works of our fleshly zeal, or the cleverness of our own minds. Our work for God must be in the life and power of the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Our service must be born out of the Spirit of God and in obedience to the Word of God.
The fire on the altar was a symbol of holiness. Nadab and Abihu were overlaying it with an unholiness.
It is interesting that when the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost (Acts 2), it was not long before Ananias and Saphira brought the strange fire of an insincere offering before the church. The apostle Peter discerned that their offering was Satanically inspired and that they were lying to God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Within hours of each other Ananias and Saphira fell down and breathed their last. (Acts 5:5,10). Like Nadab and Abihu, they died before the Lord. The young men rose up and carried them out and buried them. Similarly, in Leviticus we read:
Leviticus 10:4 (NASB) 4 Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp.”
How heart-breaking this must have been to all in the camp, especially to Aaron who lost his two sons. God was making a point in the beginning of the worship life of God’s people both in the tabernacle and the worship life of God’s people in the early church, that He is holy.
In the beginning of the worship life of the church in the wilderness and in the beginning of the worship life of the church of the Risen Lord, the fear of the Lord was being established. God’s Word is to be taken seriously.
We must be careful not to use man-made counterfeit fire today. Jesus said, ”God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). This means that we worship as those who have been made alive to God through faith in Jesus Christ. We worship the Lord as those who have been converted, born of God through the Holy Spirit. But we also must worship in truth, according to the revelation of God’s mind in His Word, the Scriptures.
Beginning with Leviticus 10:8 the Lord gives instruction about how we treat our bodies, which now belong to the Lord and are to be instruments of His Spirit.
Some commentators suggest that the placement of the following verse may hint that Nadab and Abihu were intoxicated when offering their strange fire. Notice what is mentioned first after the incident of God suddenly slaying Nadab and Abihu:
Leviticus 10:8-9 (NASB) 8 The LORD then spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—
The real intent of these laws regarding our treatment of our bodies is found in the next verse:
Leviticus 10:10 10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean,
We are to honor God in all that we do. We have been bought with a price. We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19). May our lives speak of the fact that we are under new management- His management! The New Testament application in regard to these Levitical laws can be found in the Apostle Paul’s words:
1 Corinthians 10:31 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
MARK 4:26-5:20; PSALMS 37:30-40; PROV 10:6-7
The following parable is only found in the gospel of Mark.
Mark 4:26-29 26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
It is a miracle that never grows old. You may have planted seeds year after year and know all there is to know about farming. But the growth of new life from a buried seed is still a wonder to behold and one which we are called to cooperate with. And so, we continue to marvel in the miracle of salvation, how we are born again of the Holy Spirit by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God.
Mark’s account of Jesus being asleep in the midst of the storm is revealing. He is testing their faith. He is stirring them up to pray. But what do His disciples do? They panic. They accuse Jesus of not caring. They say, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Do we ever think that God does not care? Do we think that He has abandoned us to perish? Jesus stands up. He makes it clear Who He is. First, He reveals His divine authority by rebuking the wind and the waves. He commands the sea to be still. Then, He rebukes His disciples asking two good questions. 1. Why are you afraid 2. Do you still have no faith? He implies that they had no faith before they met Him. Has not their experience with Christ made a difference?
It would do us well to ask the same questions.
Do you not know Who called you into the boat of your present circumstances? Do you not know Who is in the boat with you? Do you not know that He is with you to demonstrate and minister perfect peace in the midst of the storm?
Fear is believing that God is not able to bring you to the other side when He has called you to come with Him to the other side (Mark 4:35). Fear is what happens when we believe that Jesus sleeps because He does not care. Instead of resting in His perfect knowledge as Lord of the Storm, we panic. Faith is recognizing that Jesus is like none other. “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?
Jesus not only demonstrates His authority over the natural world when He rebukes the wind and the waves, but when He gets to the other side He demonstrates His authority over the supernatural world when He expels a Legion of demons from a man who was bound in chains, destroying himself as he was tormented by forces of darkness dwelling among the tombs. What a picture of lost humanity! Jesus commanded the unclean spirits to enter the swine where they pursued their self -destructive course in the bodies of these animals.
Satan is a thief. He had robbed this man of his home, the fellowship of his family and friends. He lost his sanity and decency as he ran among the tombs naked. He lived like a wild animal, hurting himself and frightening other people. This man was possessed by a legion of demons. A Roman legion had as many as 6000 men. But the demons recognized Jesus’ identity and authority. It is interesting that the demons did not know what Jesus would do. Satan is shrewd but he does not know the mind of God. Jesus ordered the demons into the 2000 pigs. It was a powerful exhibit of the number and nature of the spirits that were vexing the life of the demoniac. The invisible unclean spirits were sent into the visible, physical unclean animals and drove them to destruction. And now the people could behold the transformation of this new man. Jesus ordered him to stay in his hometown and bear witness to his deliverance.
Mark 5:19b 19 “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 37:30-40
Do not take for granted the privileges of the great salvation by the Lord to those who put their trust in Him. Not only do we have the blessing of our justification before God so that we can be declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf, but we have the graces of His abiding Spirit. Salvation involves the Law of God becoming operative in our hearts. Through the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus we can demonstrate speech that is both wise and just (Psalm 37:30). Our walk in this world can be one that is blessed and secure (Psalm 37:31).
In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus summarizes what the Psalmist writes in verses 34-35, with the words,” Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5).
Psalm 37:34 34 Wait for the LORD and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
The present benefits of our salvation are ministered through the sanctifying work of the Word and the Spirit. We discover that the Lord is a stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps and delivers us from the wicked and saves us, because we take refuge in Him!
READING FROM PROVERBS
Proverbs 10:7 7 The memory of the righteous is blessed, But the name of the wicked will rot.
PRAY FOR ARUBA
An island 28 km north of Venezuela. Dry and sandy with no fresh water and few natural resources.
Unity among believers is a key issue for the diverse churches in Aruba. Division can undermine any numerical growth of believers. The greatest threat to this unity is the importation of alien theology, church culture and preaching style common among the televangelists and prosperity preachers seen on foreign Christian TV. Praise God for increased fellowship and cooperation among pastors, enabling evangelicals to present a united front and impact society on issues such as homosexual marriage legislation, teen drug addiction and the high rate of illegitimate births (about 50%).
Media. There are three Christian radio stations on Aruba: Radio Victoria (originally TEAM) and two others broadcast to Aruba and the Venezuelan coast. TWR broadcasts to Bonaire on its FM station and internationally through shortwave and the Internet. The gospel is also proclaimed on programs that appear on secular radio and TV. Pray for the enduring fruitfulness of these strategic ministries.
PRAYER: Our Gracious God and Father, give us a reverential fear of the All-Consuming Fire of Your Holiness. Never let our hearts stray into igniting the false fire of fleshly initiatives. Keep us abiding in You. Thank You for delivering us from the evil one who was intent on our destruction. You are not only our Rock and Refuge, but our Great Deliverer.
Lord, we need Your provision to keep us from slip ups- both in our speech and in our walk. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and His sanctifying influences through Your Word. May we be faithful witnesses to the work of deliverance You have accomplished in our lives, both in our present localities and to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.