Consecrated or Counterfeit
(Leviticus 8:1 – 10:20)
Nadab and Abihu
Colored Woodcut from The Nuremburg Bible
Have you ever felt a certain uneasiness in your spirit during a worship service, a Bible study class, a theological seminar or even a spiritual retreat? I have.
Not long ago, I attended a prayer workshop at a local church. At the end of the session, the workshop leader invited all attendees to move to the altar area for personal prayer.
I shuffled to the front, eager to spend some quality time doing business with God. After a few minutes, having completed my own private prayer time, I stood to leave. Glancing around, I noticed several workshop attendees were flat on the floor, presumably “slain in the Spirit.”
Suddenly, the workshop leader grabbed me by both shoulders and peered directly into my eyes. At the same time, I could feel the leader’s hands pushing me backwards quite forcefully.
The leader was actually attempting to push me to the floor.
Although I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit of God can flatten praying people in a heartbeat, having witnessed and experienced it firsthand, this particular incident was clearly counterfeit. God does not need His servants to wrestle people to the floor.
I would like to believe that the workshop leader had godly intentions. At the same time, I could not help but wonder whether the body count might somehow have been a personal measure of session effectiveness.
Looking at Moses and Aaron’s sons
Today’s Bible readings trace the ordination of Aaron and his four sons for the holy priesthood of God. With the entire congregation assembled, Moses washed the men with water, anointed them with oil, clothed them with the sacred garments, presented a burnt offering on their behalf and marked them with the sacrificial blood. Finally, Moses instructed Aaron and his sons to partake of the consecrated food.
This passage simply oozes spiritual symbolism. How intriguing it is to ponder the deep spiritual truths behind each element of the priestly ordination process and its New Testament implications for the believer.
The biblical account continues, as the priests made sin offerings for themselves before they performed their priestly duties on behalf of the people.
What a vital step! How can any of us presume to lead others before we have allowed God to deal with the sin in our own lives? And who among us does not need to do this daily?
Nadab and Abihu find fake fire.
Finally, Aaron sacrificed the peace offering for the people. God sent holy fire to consume the offering, and the people rejoiced in awe at the manifest glory of God.
Soon afterwards, Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu tried to work a bit of holy fire on their own, bringing pre-lit censors into the Tent of Meeting. Their counterfeit flames led to divine judgment, and the two young men were struck dead on the spot.
Moses responded to this event by quoting the Lord:
“Then Moses said to Aaron,
‘It is what the Lord spoke, saying,
“By those who come near Me
I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people
I will be honored.”’
“So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.”
(Leviticus 10:3, NASB – emphasis added)
What a warning against counterfeit religion, manufactured miracles and phony fancies. The all-powerful God of the universe does not need for us to beef up His program to impress ourselves or others. He can bring His own holy fire, when He chooses to do so.
Will you pray with me?
Forgive us for seeking
Your wonders more than Your wisdom,
Your fire more than Your Fatherhood.
Teach us to wait
For Your timing.
Fill us with Your holy fire,
Grant us wisdom
To spot imposters
And to recognize Your genuine power.
Rather than our own enthusiasm.
Temper our zeal,
So that we will focus
On You alone.