Leviticus/ Va-Yikra 9:1 - 11:47
For the week of April 25, 1998
29 Nisan 5758

Don't Mess with God

Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, 'This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: 'Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.' Aaron remained silent (Leviticus/Va-Yikra 10:1-3)

This week's portion is another illustration that the Torah is more about God than it is about us. After a lengthy description of the sacrifices and the priests' ministry, several sacrifices were made. Fire came from the presence of the LORD and consumed the sacrifices. But soon after, two of Aaron's sons brought an unauthorized offering; one that God had not prescribed. Fire again came from God's presence, but this time consumed Aaron's son's.

This is not a nice story. This is the kind of story that so upsets people that they want to reject the Bible and the God it portrays. But does the fact that we don't like things such as this invalidate the Bible, or prove that the God of the Bible is not really God? If we don't agree with the Bible, does that make the Bible wrong?

When dealing with the "not nice stories" in the Bible, we need to see what we can learn from them rather than getting hung up on the fact that we are troubled over them.

What happened to Aaron's sons reminds us that God is not to messed around with. God made the requirements of the priestly service very clear. One could not just do whatever they liked. Moses said,

This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: "Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored" (Leviticus/Va-Yikra 10:3).

We need to learn that God is holy, that is he is very different from and greater than ourselves. We need to deeply respect him and make sure that we do what he says.

This is so contrary to the spirit of our times. The motto, "Do your own thing" is deeply ingrained We resent rules and restrictions imposed upon us by others. While certain restrictions are oppressive and destructive, not all are.

To do whatever we want, whenever we want , however we want, has never been good for the human race. Even though we don't like it, we do understand that life is full of rules and restrictions. Whether it is the rules of the road, the laws of the land, or the policies of a company. Most of us recognize that do's and don'ts are necessary for a better society. We are certainly glad that the other guy is kept from doing whatever he wants. We need restrictions. Our problem is that we often don't know what they should be.

What we need to realize is we are not alone in this world. There really is a God and it his prerogative to tell us how life should be lived and how we should relate to him. Aaron's sons thought differently, but they were wrong - dead wrong!

And so we have a choice. We could ignore this story all together, pretending that it is totally irrelevant to us. We could get angry and protest this story, which also keeps us from dealing with its message, or we can take it seriously and realize that we need to answer to God.

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