Friday, August 8, 2008

Living Leviticus Through the Eyes of The New Covenant

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." (Heb. 13:15 NIV)

I have always heard a lot about the book of Leviticus but mostly always from a negative or humorous point of view. But in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 says that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." And I am all onto that, until I get to something like Leviticus and start reading the parts that mention things that if all of your friends (including the Christian ones) weren't stoned to death, they would be considered unclean. But somehow, even all of that has value for us too. I can't say that I understand how all of Leviticus applies to our lives, but that it does. There is an interesting story that a lot of people miss the point about in this book.

Leviticus 10:1-3 (ESV)

The Death of Nadab and Abihu

"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. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 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."

One thing that is clearly seen over and over in the first five books of the Bible is that God is holy. As shown by the text above, He is so holy that by even being in His presence without doing the proper procedures will be enough to kill and consume our bodies and souls. A lot of people use this text to justify that there are proper procedures for worship and that when we do anything that has not specifically been commanded to be done in corporate worship, we are in a very grave situation. (The idea of only doing what is expressly commanded in worship is called the regulative principle). While there definitely are ways that God desires to be worshipped both heart-wise and in how we do it, there is a huge point that this text is saying that we need to not miss.

"It is certainly true that Nadab and Abihu were guilty of breaking the regulative principle of worship in that they did not do what God had commanded them to do in a formal sense. They offered strange fire before the Lord. But materially, there was something deeper going on in their offering of strange fire that led to their destruction. Nadab and Abihu were to offer incense upon fire that was taken from the altar of burnt offerings. The incense was to represent the prayers of the people as those prayers rose before the Lord. The reason why the incense had to be offered upon fire taken from the altar of burnt offerings was that the sacrifice offered there was the offering for sin. Nothing was to enter God’s presence for which blood had not been spilled. Even the prayers of the people came up out of the atoning blood sacrifice, and were in fact to be prayers of thankfulness for that blood. In offering strange fire, Nadab and Abihu despised the blood sacrifice. In effect, they came into the presence of the Lord without Christ. They did not know themselves in deep need of the sacrificial blood on their behalf, and they dared come in their own righteousness before God as they brought the prayers of the people." (Corey Griess, PRT Journal, April 08)

Before the full reality of Christ came, the world was stuck in a system that only brought more condemnation. God moved in the physical realm in a mighty way that He does not often do anymore and even through all of that, He could not get the people to be faithful to Him because the people didn't yet fully have what was needed for being near to God: Christ. Nadab and Abihu came into God's presence without Christ and got only the wrath because of it. The people of God's failings happen over and over and over again because they did not go to God through Christ. Without Christ, we all are without hope and can not come near to God without being consumed. But as Christians, we:

"have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire"." (Hebrews 12 NIV)

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