February 09, 2007

Altar Problems

Leviticus 10:1-3

They offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. Leviticus 10:1


Soon after that glorious beginning of worship we looked at yesterday, Aaron's sons were consumed by fire from God's presence. Earlier this fire had consumed the burnt offering, to the great joy of God's people.

Why did this terrible punishment have to take place? At this special time in the history of God's people, God was prescribing in a precise way how the people were to worship him. But Nadab and Abihu had disobeyed God's instructions.

This was the beginning of Israel's true worship on earth. No other nation was worshiping God in accordance with his special instructions. Nowhere else were priests coming so close to the true God of heaven and earth. Nowhere else had God come so close to a people to receive their worship. At the beginning of this unique worship we are reminded at once of stunning success and agonizing failure.

Today, too, there is nothing like true Christian worship. Only through Jesus Christ can we worship the one true God in spirit and truth and come close to God. Only through Jesus has the true God come so close to us. That's because Jesus, our great High Priest, performs the heavenly liturgy without blemish.

As we approach God with our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, let us do so with clean hearts (Psalm 15).

Wash me, O Lord; cleanse me from wrongdoing, that my worship may be true and acceptable in your sight. Lead me in paths of righteousness for your name's sake. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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