Our call to worship today comes from Leviticus 9 &10. In chapter 9, Aaron makes detailed preparations for worship, according to the precise instructions given by the Lord through Moses. After following all that God had commanded we read in verse 23,
“And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and 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 pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
The Lord was pleased with their worship and blessed his people. And then, immediately following, we read that Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, in defiance of God’s instructions offered unauthorized fire before the Lord. And we read, “And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 9:23–10:3 ESV)
Now, there are 2 things that we can observe from this short episode.
First, when we approach God in the manner he has prescribed, he blesses it. But, God condemns those who attempt to come to Him in ways that are contrary to the means he has provided. In the case of Nadab and Abihu that meant a swift and fiery consumption unto death. For the wages of sin is death.
The good news for us is that we need not fear God’s judgment when we come to him through Jesus. As we read in last week’s sermon text, “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through his perfect sacrifice. So, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”
So, that’s the first lesson – we draw near to God with confidence through Jesus, and we dare not approach him apart from Jesus.
Secondly, this passage reveals to us the holiness of God. Nadab and Abihu were swiftly judged and executed for their profaning of God’s holy place. This wasn’t an innocent mistake they made, the rules were clear, the alter was declared by God to be “most holy.” They were acting in clear defiance.
And Aaron now goes to Moses in the wake of this event. Now, put yourself in Aaron’s shoes and imagine the weight of grief on his heart and mind for the death of his sons, when Moses tells him this… “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. (Leviticus 10:3 ESV)
Aaron uttered no counterargument, no protest, no excuse for his sons. Like everyone who stands before God’s judgment – his mouth was stopped.
Brothers and sisters, our God is holy. Let us not trifle with him. I pray that the Lord would impress his holiness upon us today in the songs that we sing and through the preached word. Let’s ask him to do that now in prayer.
Prayer of Preparation for Worship
Heavenly Father, it is audacious of us to utter a word in your presence or to take one step drawing near, were it not for your invitation to draw near through Jesus.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; You are to be feared above all gods. (Psalms 96:4 ESV)
Splendor and majesty are before you; strength and beauty are in Your sanctuary. (Psalms 96:6 ESV)
For you, Lord, are majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders (Exodus 15:11, 13).
We dare not come to you but through Jesus, who, through his cross, has opened a new and living way for us and reigns over us now as a great High Priest, who sanctifies our imperfect prayers, who cleanses our guilty consciences and removes our guilty.
Holy Spirit, break through our apathy, our hard-heartedness, our damnable boredom, our wayward thoughts and renew in us a holy appetite for the glory of God that we might reflect His glory in praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and lives that are yielded to His will.
Lead us now in worship Holy Spirit, as we seek to honor God our Father through Jesus Christ. Amen.