Be Holy For I Am Holy

A Study through Leviticus

Priestly Consecration – Leviticus 8-10

 

In Leviticus 7:35 the word “consecrated” is translated from the Hebrew term meshach (מָשַׁח [mashach /maw·shakh). Meshach means literally anoint, smear, and spread a liquid. Based on the context this term refers to the breast and thigh portions of the peace offering which are used as a worshipful wave offering and heave offering respectively to the Lord which are allocated to Aaron and the priests (Lev. 7:28-38). That which is consecrated here is that which is set aside for God’s prescribed use or allocation. The breast and thigh are consecrated or anointed in that they are specifically set aside by God as the portion to be given to and used by the priests.

 

In Leviticus 7:37 the word “consecrations” is translated from the Hebrew term miluʾîm (מָשַׁח [mashach /maw·shakh/] from מָלֵא mâlê˒, maw-lay’ ) which refers to a fulfilling, a setting of gems, consecration or putting in place. The context here refers to the order of the sacrifices; putting them in place as precious stones in a ring. But another application of this term is to the ordination or installation of priests. Priests are consecrated in the sense that God has called them to be set apart specifically for His use and service.

 

The word “consecrate” in its various other forms is synonymous with the word sanctify and is a translation of the Hebrew term qadash (קָדַשׁ qâdâsh, kaw-dash’ ). Based on the context qadash is translated shall be holy, sanctified, sanctify, dedicate and consecrate. Qadash is translated in the following ways in Leviticus:

 

·         Leviticus 6:18 - All the males among the children of Aaron may eat it. It shall be a statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings made by fire to the Lord. Everyone who touches them must be holy.’ ”

·         Leviticus 6:27 - Everyone who touches its flesh must be holy. And when its blood is sprinkled on any garment, you shall wash that on which it was sprinkled, in a holy place.

·         Leviticus 8:10 - Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them.

·         Leviticus 8:11 - He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them.

·         Leviticus 8:12 - And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.

·         Leviticus 8:15 - and Moses killed it. Then he took the blood, and put some on the horns of the altar all around with his finger, and purified the altar. And he poured the blood at the base of the altar, and consecrated it, to make atonement for it.

·         Leviticus 8:30 - Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.

·         Leviticus 10:3 - And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy;  And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” So Aaron held his peace.

·         Leviticus 11:44 - For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

·         Leviticus 16:19 - Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

·         Leviticus 20:7 - Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.

·         Leviticus 20:8 - And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

·         Leviticus 21:8 - Therefore you shall consecrate him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy.

·         Leviticus 21:15 - Nor shall he profane his posterity among his people, for I the Lord sanctify him.’ ”

·         Leviticus 21:23 - only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the Lord sanctify them.’ ”

·         Leviticus 22:2 - “Speak to Aaron and his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they do not profane My holy name by what they dedicate to Me: I am the Lord.

·         Leviticus 22:3 - Say to them: ‘Whoever of all your descendants throughout your generations, who goes near the holy things which the children of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he has uncleanness upon him, that person shall be cut off from My presence: I am the Lord.

·         Leviticus 22:9 - They shall therefore keep My ordinance, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby, if they profane it: I the Lord sanctify them.

·         Leviticus 22:16 - or allow them to bear the guilt of trespass when they eat their holy offerings; for I the Lord sanctify them.’ ”

·         Leviticus 22:32 - You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you,

·         Leviticus 25:10 - And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

·         Leviticus 27:14 - ‘And when a man dedicates his house to be holy to the Lord, then the priest shall set a value for it, whether it is good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand.

·         Leviticus 27:15 - If he who dedicated it wants to redeem his house, then he must add one-fifth of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall be his.

·         Leviticus 27:16 - ‘If a man dedicates to the Lord part of a field of his possession, then your valuation shall be according to the seed for it. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.

·         Leviticus 27:17 - If he dedicates his field from the Year of Jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand.

·         Leviticus 27:18 - But if he dedicates his field after the Jubilee, then the priest shall reckon to him the money due according to the years that remain till the Year of Jubilee, and it shall be deducted from your valuation.

·         Leviticus 27:19 - And if he who dedicates the field ever wishes to redeem it, then he must add one-fifth of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall belong to him.

·         Leviticus 27:22 - ‘And if a man dedicates to the Lord a field which he has bought, which is not the field of his possession,

·         Leviticus 27:26 - ‘But the firstborn of the animals, which should be the Lord’s firstborn, no man shall dedicate; whether it is an ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s.

The word qadash means, “appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy (-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify (-ied one, self), wholly.”[1] To be holy means to be unique in some way. God is holy in the sense that there is no one else like Him (Exodus 15:11; 1 Sam. 2;2; cf. also Ps. 86:8; Rev. 15:4). Priests are holy in the sense that God has called them apart for a special use, a unique use; to serve Him and be used by Him for His purposes. To consecrate or be sanctified means to be set apart for God’s use. This is the essence of what the words “Be holy for I am holy” mean.

 

The Consecration of Priests

 

In Leviticus 8 and 9 the instructions about how to consecrate the priests are given. This is important for Christians in the sense that the New Testament declares Christians compose a “royal priesthood”:

 

·         1 Peter 2:9-10 - But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

The consecration of priests in the Old Testament speaks to the priesthood of believers in the New Testament. How priests were prepared or consecrated, set apart for God in the Old Testament helps us to understand how we, the priesthood of believers can be prepared and set apart for God’s use today. What do we learn about being prepared as priests in Leviticus 8-10?

Consecration/Sanctification involves God’s Selection

Leviticus 8:1-5  -  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, the anointing oil, a bull as the sin offering, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; 3 and gather all the congregation together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” 4 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. And the congregation was gathered together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 5 And Moses said to the congregation, “This is what the Lord commanded to be done.”

God told Moses to set Aaron and his sons aside for this holy purpose. This was a sovereign decision of God to set Aaron and his sons apart for His service. Notice this selection was for service not salvation. God selected or elected Aaron and his sons to serve the Lord.

In the same way the priesthood of believers are elected by God to serve Him (Eph. 1:3-4; 2:10). Jesus chose the disciples (John 15:16). Disciples are only as effective as they realize that they are dependent upon Jesus (John 15:1), cleansed by his word (John 15:2), and that they can do nothing of eternal significance or lasting worth apart from Jesus (John 15:3-8). The disciple of Jesus is in the blessed state of a deep abiding love relationship with Jesus (John 15:9-17). That love is a product of the regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit in their lives (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22-24).

Consecration/Sanctification involves Washing

Leviticus 8:6 - 6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water.

Just as Aaron and his sons were ceremonially washed before the congregation of God, the priesthood of believers and especially those serving the Lord need to be washed from their sins by the regeneration of the Spirit (Titus 3:5). This speaks of baptism (Rom. 6:1-4). Washing speaks of our being born again (1 Peter 1:22-25). When people try and serve the Lord without first being saved, it is a mere religious endeavor that will be filled with frustration and futility and ultimately will fail.

Those who are saved and seeking to serve the Lord need to be washed continually with the word of God (Eph. 5:26). The Spirit of God cleanses or sanctifies believers with the word of God. We need to regularly take a shower or bathe in the word of God so that we don’t accumulate muck and mire from the fallen world in which we serve.

The priest of God needs to have their hearts washed and purified of anything that would challenge the Lordship of Christ in their hearts (Acts 15:8-9). This is an aspect of the baptism or empowerment of the Spirit. When a person is empowered by the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:8) it isn’t that they receive more of the Holy Spirit, it’s that the Holy Spirit receives more of them. When Peter described the empowerment of the gentiles by the Spirit he did so using the words, “purifying their hearts by faith.” The priest of God and anyone seeking to serve the Lord will be effective in proportion to how much their heart is purified from distractions and alternatives to God and His word.

Consecration/Sanctification involves Special Clothing

Leviticus 8:7-9 - 7 And he put the tunic on him, girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him; and he girded him with the intricately woven band of the ephod, and with it tied the ephod on him. 8 Then he put the breastplate on him, and he put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate. 9 And he put the turban on his head. Also on the turban, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

God prescribed suitable clothing for the priests. The clothing of the priests set them apart from that which was common. They had different cloths to symbolize their different position and task in life.

Similarly, the priesthood of believers needs to put on the robes of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ (Is. 61:10; Rom. 13:14). This clothing distinguishes the believer priest because it is characterized by certain things. Paul described such clothing in the following way to the Colossians:

·         Colossians 3:12-14 - 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

The person who wears that clothing is distinguishably holy in a contrasting sinful world.

Consecration/Sanctification involves the Spirit Empowerment

Leviticus 8:10-12 - 10 Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them. 12 And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.

Oil in scripture is a symbol of the Spirit (cf. Zechariah 4:1-10). The priests being anointed with oil typified the need for the priest to be empowered by the Spirit. Serving as God’s priests was not something that could be done in one’s own strength. The priest of God needed to rely on The Spirit of God for staying power.

Similarly, Jesus instructed the early apostles and disciples to wait until they were empowered by the Spirit before they attempted to serve the Lord (Acts 1:4-5, 8). When they obeyed the Lord, those who had previously deserted the Lord in fear became bold proclaimers of the gospel in the power of the Spirit (Acts 2). It’s futile and will be very frustrating to serve or attempt to serve the Lord apart from the empowerment of the Spirit. Seek His empowerment and don’t lunge ahead in your own strength without it.

Consecration/Sanctification involves Girding and Discipleship

Leviticus 8:13 - 13 Then Moses brought Aaron’s sons and put tunics on them, girded them with sashes, and put hats on them, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Moses had dressed Aaron (8:7-9), now he brought Aaron’s sons and put their tunics on and tied them in place with sashes. He put their hats on and followed the instructions of God. First Moses dressed Aaron, then his sons. There is an element of passing on instruction here. First Aaron was dressed and then his sons. This is a picture of discipleship. The sons of Aaron were to learn and follow what Moses had first done to Aaron.

Jesus’ gave the Great Commission which involves discipleship. Disciples are learners. They watch their Master and follow in His steps (Luke 11:1 ff.; 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6). Paul instructed others to follow his example (Phil. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:10). This is discipleship.

There is something else here too though. Just as Aaron and his sons were to put on and tie together their clothes, New Testament believer priests of God need to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). We tie all of our armor battlement together with the belt buckle of truth. God’s word is the truth that helps us to keep everything in place and tie it all together (John 17:17).

Consecration/Sanctification involves the Blood of Sacrifice

Leviticus 8:14-21 - 14 And he brought the bull for the sin offering. Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull for the sin offering, 15 and Moses killed it. Then he took the blood, and put some on the horns of the altar all around with his finger, and purified the altar. And he poured the blood at the base of the altar, and consecrated it, to make atonement for it. 16 Then he took all the fat that was on the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and the two kidneys with their fat, and Moses burned them on the altar. 17 But the bull, its hide, its flesh, and its offal, he burned with fire outside the camp, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 18 Then he brought the ram as the burnt offering. And Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, 19 and Moses killed it. Then he sprinkled the blood all around on the altar. 20 And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burned the head, the pieces, and the fat. 21 Then he washed the entrails and the legs in water. And Moses burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Moses brought the bull of the sin offering before Aaron and his sons and had them lay their hands on it. He then killed the bull. This impressed on them the seriousness of sin and the concept of identification. It also communicated to them that they were sinners and needed a sin offering just like the rest of the congregation. The priesthood was not special in the sense of being a hierarchy or professional clergy; it was special in that they had been called to serve. And the fact that they needed the blood of a sacrifice to atone for them should have humbled them.

Moses then brought a ram of a burnt offering for Aaron and his sons to lay their hands on as it was sacrificed. This communicated they were being called to a full and forever dedication to the Lord and serving Him.

Similarly, we are sinners who need the cleansing of our sins by the blood of Jesus. Through faith in Jesus our sins are washed away by His blood (1 John 1:7, 9). Those who seek to serve the Lord must have faith in the shed blood of Jesus as the only means their sins can be cleansed (1 Pet. 1:2). In the Old Testament God passed over the sins of those who by faith obeyed His system of sacrifice. But at the cross the sins previously passed over by God were dealt with in actuality through the atoning death of Jesus. It is the shed blood of Jesus that brings us peace with righteous God (Rom. 3:21-28).

Consecration/Sanctification involves Practical Holiness

Leviticus 8:22-26 - 22 And he brought the second ram, the ram of consecration. Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, 23 and Moses killed it. Also he took some of its blood and put it on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Then he brought Aaron’s sons. And Moses put some of the blood on the tips of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. And Moses sprinkled the blood all around on the altar. 25 Then he took the fat and the fat tail, all the fat that was on the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, the two kidneys and their fat, and the right thigh; 26 and from the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord he took one unleavened cake, a cake of bread anointed with oil, and one wafer, and put them on the fat and on the right thigh;

Here we see Moses literally and personally applying the blood of the sacrifice to Aaron and his sons. Aaron and each of his sons must personally have the blood of sacrifice applied to them. They needed to personally experience that which they were going to minister to the people.

Applying the blood to the ear symbolized consecrated and listening. What the priest hears or listens to must be brought under the blood. Applying the blood to the thumb of the right hand symbolized that the work of their hands must be washed in the blood of sacrifice. And the application of the blood to the big toes was to communicate that wherever the priest would go must be covered in the blood. All of this implies a practical holiness, the application of the blood of sacrifice.

Similarly, a servant of God must minister from experience. The person who serves God must have personally experienced salvation through faith in Christ by God’s grace before they seek to serve God. The blood of Jesus and the holy cleansing must have been experienced by the one seeking to serve the Lord. The blood of Jesus and the holiness it brings must be seen and experienced practically in what the priest servant listens to, the work of their hands and the places they travel.

Consecration/Sanctification involves Receiving God’s Provisions

Leviticus 8:27-29 - 27 and he put all these in Aaron’s hands and in his sons’ hands, and waved them as a wave offering before the Lord. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar, on the burnt offering. They were consecration offerings for a sweet aroma. That was an offering made by fire to the Lord. 29 And Moses took the breast and waved it as a wave offering before the Lord. It was Moses’ part of the ram of consecration, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Consecration involves receiving God’s provision. It means coming before the Lord empty handed to be filled by Him. That is what we see here as the parts of the sacrifices are put into the open arms of Aaron and his sons.

We too must come before the Lord to receive His provisions. Where God guides God gifts. When God calls a person to a task he will enable them to do it. It is only when we march out in our own devices, unequipped by God that troubles arise. Many a minister has crashed and burned because their venture in faith was not so much faith as it was their fleshly desires. We need to be equipped by God with His gifting to minister as He sees fit for us (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 4:11-12).

Consecration/Sanctification involves Anointing

Leviticus 8:30 - 30 Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.

Moses anointed by sprinkling Aaron and his sons. This points to the need for anointing of the Spirit. Notice the sprinkling was a mixture of oil and blood. In the same way the blood of Jesus and the oil of the Spirit make up the anointing of those called by God to serve Him. The priest will serve in the power of the Spirit and the sustaining cleansing of the blood of Jesus to counter the servant’s weaknesses, shortcomings and sin.

Consecration/Sanctification involves Communion with the Lord

Leviticus 8:31-32 - 31 And Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and eat it there with the bread that is in the basket of consecration offerings, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ 32 What remains of the flesh and of the bread you shall burn with fire.

Moses instructed Aaron and his sons to prepare a meal to eat before the Lord. This was a type of peace offering, a meal in the presence and fellowship of the Lord.

Service of the Lord is rooted deeply in communion with the Lord. The servant of the Lord must “eat” of Him in the sense that we come to His communion table and dine with Jesus (John 6:30-47). To serve the Lord we can’t rely on mere earthly food (John 6:27). We need the bread, the manna from heaven; we need Jesus. Jesus spoke of this necessity and many of His disciples were unable to accept it (John 6:48-60, 66). This is a spiritual meal that needs to be spiritually discerned (John 6:61-65). The body of Jesus only becomes repulsive to those who do not discern it in the Spirit. Without the Spirit it becomes an ugly cannibalistic meal (John 6:52). In this Spirit, such a meal becomes “words of eternal life” from “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66-69). If the Spirit is left out of such a meal, the one who continues without the Spirit will in all likelihood end up like Judas (John 6:70-71).

Consecration/Sanctification involves Separation and Seriousness

Leviticus 8:33-36 - 33 And you shall not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you. 34 As he has done this day, so the Lord has commanded to do, to make atonement for you. 35 Therefore you shall stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you may not die; for so I have been commanded.” 36 So Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses.

Lastly, Moses instructs Aaron and his sons to go separate themselves for seven days of the consecrating process. They were to spend time with the Lord to be prepared for the service God had called them too. This was not something they were to enter into casually. This was not something they should do by simply going through some motions. They needed to take their calling as priests seriously, “that you may not die.”

Serving the Lord is not something to be entered into lightly. It is something by which you should patiently and seriously pray through. God calls us to serve, but we should only do so as we have been equipped and directed by Him.

The Consequence of Consecrated Priests

When priests are prepared and consecrated in the holy way God prescribes, the consequence or result is the presence of God; the manifestation of the glory of the Lord. That is the height of worship! When worship is what God intends for it to be the presence of God will be manifested. When Aaron and his sons offered the sacrifices to God properly and lifted his hands leading the people in worship, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came down from the Lord. Revival and a deep spiritual experience happened. The manifestation of God humbled the people who could only fall before the Lord in worship.

We see so many calls for revival in our nation. If we want to see revival we must first see consecration and sanctification, a full surrender to the Spirit. That is the message found in Leviticus 9.

The Consecrated Service that Leads to the Presence of the Lord

What characterizes the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord?

First, the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord seeks the presence of the Lord (9:1-4).

Leviticus 9:1-4 - It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2 And he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. 3 And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a kid of the goats as a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering, 4 also a bull and a ram as peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord, and a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you.’ ”

This may sound redundant but not all service is aimed at seeing the presence of God manifested. Some serve to exalt their own presence. Others serve to just go through the emotions. It’s in the presence of God that His joy is full (Psalm 16:10). The presence of the Lord should be actively sought out as our goal.

Second, the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord obeys in faith the instruction of the Lord (9:5-6).

Leviticus 9:5-6 - 5 So they brought what Moses commanded before the tabernacle of meeting. And all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. 6 Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded you to do, and the glory of the Lord will appear to you.”

Moses, Aaron and his sons and the people all obeyed the instructions of the Lord. They believed if they obeyed God’s instructions that God would be faithful to deliver on His promise to make His presence appear. If we want the presence of the Lord to manifest, we need to serve within the parameters of the word of the Lord.

Third, the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord starts with atonement for the priests (9:7-14).

Leviticus 9:7-14 - 7 And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.” 8 Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. 9 Then the sons of Aaron brought the blood to him. And he dipped his finger in the blood, put it on the horns of the altar, and poured the blood at the base of the altar. 10 But the fat, the kidneys, and the fatty lobe from the liver of the sin offering he burned on the altar, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 11 The flesh and the hide he burned with fire outside the camp. 12 And he killed the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons presented to him the blood, which he sprinkled all around on the altar. 13 Then they presented the burnt offering to him, with its pieces and head, and he burned them on the altar. 14 And he washed the entrails and the legs, and burned them with the burnt offering on the altar.

Those leading the service need to have their sins atoned for and dealt with before God. Unconfessed sin is an impediment to worship and experiencing the presence of the Lord (Ps. 16:18; Hab. 1:13). The ministers leading the people in service need to deal with their sins first.

Fourth, the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord involves atonement for the people (9:15-21).

Leviticus 9:15-21 - 15 Then he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and killed it and offered it for sin, like the first one. 16 And he brought the burnt offering and offered it according to the prescribed manner. 17 Then he brought the grain offering, took a handful of it, and burned it on the altar, besides the burnt sacrifice of the morning. 18 He also killed the bull and the ram as sacrifices of peace offerings, which were for the people. And Aaron’s sons presented to him the blood, which he sprinkled all around on the altar, 19 and the fat from the bull and the ram—the fatty tail, what covers the entrails and the kidneys, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver; 20 and they put the fat on the breasts. Then he burned the fat on the altar; 21 but the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved as a wave offering before the Lord, as Moses had commanded.

Once the priests have dealt with their sins they must lead the people to deal with and atone for their sins. Sin must be thoroughly dealt with through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9). Congregational sin can deter the blessing of the entire congregation (e.g. Judges 7-8).

Fifth, the consecrated service that leads to the presence of the Lord involves blessed worship (9:22-24).

Leviticus 9:22-24 – 22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Once God’s instructions for sacrifice were obeyed in faith, Aaron led the people in worship and the presence of the Lord manifested. The word “glory” (Hebrew - kāvôdh) as in “the glory of the Lord” means literally, to be heavy, to be honored. The idea here is that there was a weighty and substantial experience that took place, one that was characterized by deep honor and reverence for the Lord.

The presence of the Lord in worship; that is what every servant of the Lord should aim at. But that unfortunately is not always the case. What happens when God’s instructions are not followed by those serving the Lord? That is what we will see in the next chapter.

The Consequence of Impure Non-consecrated Priests

Here we have the tragic improper service of God that results in the death of two of Aaron’s sons. The service we see here results in death and a departure from the presence of the Lord.  What characterizes the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord?

First, the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord is “profane” (10:1).

Leviticus 10:1 - Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.

Aaron’s sons offered “profane” fire before the Lord. This verse tells us a number of things. First, the word “profane” (Heb.‏ָ zār) means strange, different, unlawful. It says at the end of verse one that what they offered was something that, “He had not commanded them.” They did not care enough or revere God enough to pay attention to His instructions. They were casual in their attention to the word of the Lord. What they offered was strange in that it didn’t come from a close familiar relationship with the Lord. They didn’t have a sense of the real presence with the Lord. They didn’t have a relationship with the Lord apparently otherwise they wouldn’t have acted in this profane way.

This verse also tells us that religious ceremony is not enough. Nadab and Abihu used their censures but using holy implements was not enough to outweigh the substance of having a relationship with the Lord. Religion is never enough.

Second, the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord was fleshly (10:1).

Leviticus 10:1 -  Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.

If what the two sons did was not rooted in a relationship with the Lord, then it conversely was rooted in their flesh. Serving in the flesh, in one’s own strength or one’s own opinion never is sufficient to bring you into the presence of the Lord.

There was no prayer mentioned as part of the actions of the two sons. They were relying on their own whims. Maybe they wanted to step in and usurp the glory of God by bringing the focus on them and the “fire” they offered.

They were acting on impulse. Perhaps they were excited about how God had just burned up the offering at the Tabernacle of Meeting (9:24). They may have let their emotions carry them away into improper service.

Third, the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord did not regard God as holy (10:3).

Leviticus 10:3 - 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

     ‘By those who come near Me

     I must be regarded as holy;

     And before all the people

     I must be glorified.’ ”

So Aaron held his peace.

In Leviticus 16:1-2 God instructs Aaron through Moses, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died; and the Lord said to Moses: Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.” This seems to imply that Nadab and Abihu had gone behind the veil “at just any time” rather than the prescribed time of the Day of Atonement. The two sons had shown disrespect and an insensitive spirit towards the holy presence of God. People are similarly insensitive to the holiness of God when they act irreverently. There is nothing wrong with being casual or not emphasizing outward appearances in church. But sometimes such inattention to outward appearance and casualness leads to an irreverent spirit in the presence of the Lord. God is holy and we must never lose sight of that. We can come confidently into His presence by the blood of Jesus, but confidence should not cross the line into irreverence (Hebrews 4:16).

This was God’s assessment of what the two sons had done. Aaron held his peace. He must have grieved at the foolish behavior of his two sons, but he held his peace. God is holy. Aaron knew God’s judgment on his sons was proper.

The unsaved are irreverent or disrespectful toward God and pay a price for that sin (e.g. Daniel 5:1-4; Lk. 13:1). Sinful humanity disregards God and refuse to see Him as holy (Rom. 1:28). But what is worse is when God’s own people irreverently challenge Him (Isaiah 5:18-19). Even priests or ministers of God sink to impiety and irreverence and are judged by God (Malachi 1:6-14).

When Jesus came one of the things He did was cleanse the Temple of the irreverent money changers (Mat. 21:12-13). Irreverence is a great offense in our day. Jesus is our “Friend” but He is still God and to be respected. Irreverence and a lack of respect for God is sinful and offensive to Him (Ex. 19:22; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).  Leviticus is a book about relating to Holy God and therefore it should come as no surprise that irreverence is handled in as strong a way as it is.

Fourth, the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord is impaired (10:8-11).

Leviticus 10:8-11 - 8 Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: 9 “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

The warning not to drink wine when serving the Lord may imply that this was part of the offense of Nadab and Abihu. Wine and alcohol impairs us. We need to be in control of our faculties when worshiping and serving the Lord. Indeed we ought to be continually filled with the Spirit not anything that would intoxicate or desensitize us to the Lord (Eph. 5:18).

Fifth, the service that leads to death and a departure from the presence of the Lord is spiritually terminal (10:2).

Leviticus 10:2 - 2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.

That done outside the parameters of the Lord and His word is spiritually terminal. It was literally terminal for Nadab and Abihu. But that not done in the Spirit and according to God’s word leads to spiritual death.

That which Produces Death Must Be Removed

What should we do in such situations where profane fire is offered to the Lord? Here we have some clear instruction.

First, remove those producing death (10:4-5).

Leviticus 10:4-5 - 4 Then Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.” 5 So they went near and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said.

There comes a time when that which has been judged by the Lord must be removed. If something in ministry is dead, remove it. If service of one kind or another is spiritually dead, remove it so that God can do a fresh work. If there is something in your life that produces death, (and all sin produces death – Rom. 6:23a), remove it. Separation from that which is sinful is necessary to relate to God who is holy (e.g. 1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Cor. 6:11 – 7:1; Eph. 5:1-17).

I came across a powerful parable written by a Haitian pastor illustrating to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ.

A certain man wanted to sell his house for two thousand dollars. Another man wanted very badly to buy it but couldn't afford the full price the owner was asking. After much bargaining however, he agreed to sell the house to the poor man for half the original price -- along with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.

After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.

The Haitian pastor concluded that "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation."

The devil has only come to steal, kill and destroy. He can be very crafty and he would love nothing more than to steal from us our very inhabitance in the Lord. Let's ask the Lord to reveal any pegs we may be leaving for the devil today and take back all that belongs to us in Jesus!

Second, don’t defile yourselves with sentimental grieving for those who have profaned the Lord (10:6-7).

Leviticus 10:6-7 - 6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled. 7 You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

 Moses told Aaron and his other two sons Eleazar and Ithamar to not grieve or show remorse for Nadab and Abihu. The anointing of the Lord was upon them. They must respect the actions of God and not have an unscriptural sentimental attitude or actions. People are frequently quick to coddle those who have been disciplined by God. That is wrong! God’s discipline is right and just. We discipline in grace but there is a time for those involved with profane things to be disciplined and premature coddling obstructs what God wants to do (e.g. 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Cor. 2). God’s discipline can be painful, but it is productive and will preserve us spiritually (Heb. 12:3-15).

The death of Nadab and Abihu may seem harsh but we need to look at this more from God’s perspective. On the wall of a European church there is a poem entitled Blame Me Not. The words of this poem help to put situations such as those that we find in Leviticus 10 into perspective. The words of the poem read:

Ye call me Master and obey me not,

Ye call me Light and see me not;

Ye call me Way and walk not;

Ye call me Life and desire me not;

Ye call me Wise and follow me not;

Ye call me Fair and love me not;

Ye call me Rich and ask me not;

Ye call me Eternal and seek me not;

Ye call me Gracious and trust me not;

Ye call me Noble and serve me not;

Ye call me Mighty and honor me not;

Ye call me Just and fear me not;

If I condemn you BLAME ME not! [2]

 

The two sons of Aaron failed to revere God for Who He is, Holy God. They, nor their father, nor we can blame God for His just treatment of these priests.

 

Third, don’t allow yourself to be impaired when serving the Lord (10:8-11).

Leviticus 10:8-11 - 8 Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: 9 “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

When we serve the Lord we should be alert and spiritually sensitive to the Spirit. Anything, including alcohol, should be refrained from for those seeking to serve the Lord (e.g. Lk. 21:34; Rom. 13:13-15; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18-21).

Dr. Wilbur Chapman had this which he called ““My rule for Christian living.” The rule that governs my life is this: anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.” This simple rule may help you find a safe road for your feet along life’s road. [3]

 

Fourth, resume proper worship and pay attention to the details of God’s word (10:12-20).

Leviticus 10:12-20 - 12 And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons who were left: “Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings made by fire to the Lord, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy. 13 You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, of the sacrifices made by fire to the Lord; for so I have been commanded. 14 The breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering you shall eat in a clean place, you, your sons, and your daughters with you; for they are your due and your sons’ due, which are given from the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel. 15 The thigh of the heave offering and the breast of the wave offering they shall bring with the offerings of fat made by fire, to offer as a wave offering before the Lord. And it shall be yours and your sons’ with you, by a statute forever, as the Lord has commanded.” 16 Then Moses made careful inquiry about the goat of the sin offering, and there it was—burned up. And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying, 17 “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in a holy place, since it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord? 18 See! Its blood was not brought inside the holy place; indeed you should have eaten it in a holy place, as I commanded.” 19 And Aaron said to Moses, “Look, this day they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, and such things have befallen me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the sight of the Lord?” 20 So when Moses heard that, he was content.

Moses instructs Eleazar and Ithamar to resume the sacrifices. He rebukes them for not eating the sacrificed meal that they had left over. They were distracted from performing God’s prescribed actions by the incident with the two sons of Aaron. The sin of such incidents is compounded when it distracts others from God’s prescribed ministry.

When we have a bad incident like the one of Nadab and Abihu, we need to resume worship of the Lord and ministry and pay attention to the details of His word. We need to learn from the falls of others and not repeat them.

One of the greatest awakenings or revivals ever experienced in North America took place in the 18th century between 1730 – 1745 and stretched across the original thirteen colonies. The impetus for the American Revolution and the birth of the United States of America is firmly rooted in and connected to this move of God. One of the main instruments of this awakening was the pastor Jonathan Edwards. What kind of man is used by God for such a work? A consecrated man! To give you an idea of what a consecrated man is like I reproduce Edwards’ statement of consecration which reads:

I claim no right to myself—no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither do I have any right to this body or its members—no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears, or eyes.

 

I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him. I have given every power, so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience.

 

I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of my life. I will adhere to the faith of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be.

 

I receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me. This I have done.

 

I pray God, for the sake of others, to look upon this as a self-dedication, and receive me as His own. Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own. I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God, or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business.

 

If I murmur in the least at afflictions; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I revenge my own case; if I do anything purely to please myself, or omit anything because it is a great denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me; or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God’s. I purpose to be absolutely His. —Jonathan Edwards [4]

 

When we look at the consecration of priests and the lack of consecration in Nadab and Abihu we are presented with a clear choice. Jonathan Edwards chose the route of consecration and was greatly used by the Lord. Which route will you choose and to what extent will God use you?

 

 



[1]Strong, J. (1997, c1996). The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (H6942). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[3]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[4]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.