Burned to a Crisp

Leviticus 10:2 “So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord” (NIV).

Observation: Aaron and all his sons had been ceremonially consecrated as priests before both the Lord and His people. They were in a new temple in a new land, and a new order of worship had been instituted. Aaron’s two older sons decided on their own to perform a ritual contrary to God’s command, so He incinerated them. Aaron, seeing what happened, remained silent. Moses saw, too, and reminded Aaron of God’s earlier words: “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored” (Lev. 10:3).

Application: Doesn’t this seem a little harsh? Here were Aaron’s sons just getting started in the family business; one little mistake and they were burned to a crisp. Whatever happened to on-the-job training? Aren’t mistakes to be encouraged so we can learn from them? Surely a good scolding and docked pay would have helped them improve. And what of Moses, this man of God with whom Aaron had been in close partnership these forty years, what of his unfeeling response? Should he not have extended some brotherly, syrupy comfort over Aaron’s loss? Couldn’t Moses have come up with at least an empathetic verbal hug such as, “I feel so sorry for you”? The implication, of course, would be that God was at fault for the boys’ deaths, but what can be done? He’s the one who writes the rules, and He seems to have been a bit inflexible. Moses said none of that. Instead, he summoned Aaron’s cousins to carry the corpses outside the camp, then turned to Aaron and his other two sons and told them, in essence, to get over it. “Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die” (Lev. 10:6).

Oh, how I want to resist personal accountability. Flesh longs to lay blame for my shortcomings at the feet of long-forgotten ancestors whose sins have been counted against ten succeeding generations. My ancestors have done me in! Or perhaps I have been touched directly by some of life’s harshness and I strain against the unfairness of it all. In the balance of my response hangs my eternal destiny. I have the choice to use pain as an opportunity to drill down deep into the heart of a God who Himself knew ultimate pain, or I can decide that He is unfair, and that I will run my own life from now on. He leaves room for no middle ground.

Prayer: O Lord, thank You for showing me Moses’s right perspective. You are holy and countenance no disobedience. Thank You for what this must have taught watching Hebrews and for what it has taught me.

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