Bible reading for April 7 -- Leviticus 10; Psalms 11-12.
"And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD." (Leviticus 10:2)
Meltdown. On April 26, 1986, Russian workers were engaged in tests at the Chernobyl nuclear facility when things went out of control. The resulting explosion and meltdown took many lives, caused the destruction of much natural habitat, and affected the health of many people for years afterwards. Ultimately, the cause (and blame) was traced back to the negligence and inexperience of the workers making a late-night test on reactor #4 after disabling the automatic shut-down mechanisms.
Like the workers at Chernobyl, two sons of Aaron attempted their own innovations in worship in the tabernacle (Lev 10). This was not a mere slip-up in procedure but a high-handed and careless disregard for the laws God had given them for worship in the holy place. There had been repeated teaching and warnings about the seriousness of worship in the tabernacle. It may seem sad to us that Aaron their father could not stand down from his role as high priest at that time to publicly mourn his sons and to care for their bodies. As the anointed representative of the nation he could not at that moment be a normal father, though he is allowed to grieve by not eating his priestly food portions.
For us, one lesson here is that our allegiance to the Lord must always take precedence over family: "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt 10:37) Through the years as a pastor I've been asked by Christians how to respond when family members deliberately choose sinful paths. "Should I be OK with this?" ... "Should I celebrate this?" ... "Should I allow them to do this in our home?" ... "Won't I offend them if I don't accept this?" Even though we may love our children deeply and not want to turn them away from the faith, still, I believe we must always choose to honor God and his standards above all.
In Jesus' day, one's family was considered all-important. It was necessary to always show honor to parents and to observe the family rules. Yet, when Jesus' mother, Mary, along with his brothers, came to intervene in Jesus' ministry, to take him home for what they considered a much-needed rest, Jesus responds in the following way:
And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you." And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:32-35)
That may seem hard and unfeeling, but we need to ask, are people and their feelings always to be more important than principles? In our postmodern world this is both an assumption and a virtue. But it can also result in a attitude that principles don't really matter after all. In other words, to say religious (or ethical) differences don't matter is to say that religion itself really doesn't matter, except for one's personal comfort. So, as a result, no truth claim, no principle -- whether religious, biblical, ethical, etc. -- would ever take precedence over an individual's right to be approved in his chosen behavior. If everybody's right, then nobody's right.
That viewpoint didn't succeed at Sinai or at Chernobyl!
"The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times." (Psalm 12:6)
Righteous foundations (Ps 11). Again and again in the Psalms we are told how much the Lord loves righteousness. God created us to do right before him and to treat others rightly, but the powers of darkness delight to take aim at these foundations, to attack the upright in heart (11:1-3). We need not flee in panic, for God is King and Judge over all of creation, and he oversees human history, which is an arena of testing (11:4-5). The wickedness of the unrighteous will one day come to an end (11:6). And to make sure we get the picture of how much the Lord loves righteousness, we are told this in three ways: a) the Lord himself is righteous; b) he loves righteous deeds; and c) the righteous shall behold his face. To learn about the righteousness that brings us into God's favor I would suggest reading the NT Epistle to the Romans, especially chapters 3 through 5.
People lie (Ps 12). Not always big, dangerous lies. But deception runs deep within the human heart, according to the Bible. In Psalm 12 David calls attention to two ways in which we routinely lie: we flatter, and we boast. We tell people what we think they want to hear in order that they would feel good about themselves and us, often so we might get something out of them. And we boast in saying things that aren't really true about ourselves, such as exaggerating our own ability, power, knowledge, or achievement. I learned early in life that stories with exaggeration -- playing loose with the truth -- were the stories that people liked to listen to. This has been a hard habit to undo! The great news in this psalm is that the Lord doesn't do that. He doesn't boast, exaggerate, twist, spin, revise, edit, or do anything else to the truth. His words are 100% pure truth, like silver refined seven times. We can take God at his word.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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