Saturday, June 19, 2010
Lessons from Leviticus part IV- God's way is the only way.
In this day of political correctness it’s extremely unpopular and even considered arrogant to assert there is only one way to anything, much less salvation. Even Christians have become so tolerant that practically anything goes in churches these days. Orthodoxy is disdained in an age where truth is considered either unattainable or irrelevant. One of my lessons from Leviticus, although it can be found throughout the Bible, is that there is only one way to please God, and that’s His way.
Nadab and Abihu were Aaron’s two oldest sons and had been trained by Moses, the mouthpiece of God, in their priestly duties. We don’t know much about Nadab and Abihu, like what kind of people they were, whether they were honest, or whether they took their role as priests seriously. All we know is that they attempted to worship God their way and it cost them their lives.
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way they disobeyed the Lord by burning before Him the wrong kind of fire, different than He had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:1-2
That seems a harsh punishment, doesn’t it? After all, they were worshiping the Lord. Wasn’t God pleased with their intentions? Shouldn’t God have been happy they were worshiping Him at all? Evidently not! God sent an unequivocal message to Israel that day that He wanted to be worshiped exactly as He commanded and only as He commanded. No deviation would be tolerated.
Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land for a similar incident. You can almost sympathize with his presumption since the first time God gave the Israelites water from a rock He told Moses to strike the rock with his staff (Exodus 17). The second time God merely tells Moses and Aaron to speak and the water would gush out (Numbers 20). Moses strikes the rock anyway, either thinking surely God meant him to follow the same protocol as previously or possibly he struck the rock out of anger at the complaining Israelites. Regardless of his motives, God means what He says and disobedience is punishable by death. Moses would die in the wilderness and not live to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Again, the stiff punishment exacted served as a message loud and clear to Israel to do things exactly as God commanded them.
The Lord, Himself gives this warning to Joshua after the death of Moses:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or the left.” Joshua 1:7a
Disobedience is no small matter to God. Leviticus 16 gives the protocol for the high priest to follow on the Day of Atonement. Verse 13 adds that “if he follows these instructions, he will not die.”
Disobedience equals death, however, obedience brings life.
“If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5
When God decided to flood the earth and wipe out almost every living thing, He provided one way to be saved. He told Noah to build an ark. He gave Noah specific instructions and Noah followed them. There was only one way to live through the flood. It was God’s way.
Noah could have tried to build a "better" boat. He could have made "improvements" to God’s blueprints or he could just as easily have taken short-cuts, trying to save time. Why didn’t he build two or three arks? Because, Noah understood that God’s way is the only way.
“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” Genesis 6:22 (emphasis mine)
Moses gives the Israelites the same advice. “And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-4 (emphasis mine)
“So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them.” Deuteronomy 12:32
And lest we think this high standard of obedience to God's Word is an Old Testament thing, outdated and irrelevant, the last chapter of the Bible echoes this same directive.
“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book. If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19
Again we see that God's Word must not tampered with in any way.
Jesus Himself, inaccurately portrayed by many to be tolerant of religious pluralism, boldly claims to be the only way to salvation.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) It doesn’t matter how nice or well intentioned a person is, the only way to the Father, and therefore eternal life, is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. I know that’s offensive to many, but God’s way is the only way.
God’s holiness is displayed when we obey Him. And when we presume there is a better way or just a different way than the way He has given us, we fail to display His holiness.
The only words of explanation Aaron received after the death of his two oldest sons was this reminder from Moses that “this is what the Lord meant when He said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me, I will display my glory before all the people.’” Leviticus 10:3
The same reasoning is given for why Moses and Aaron were not permitted to enter the Promised Land, but instead were condemned to die in the wilderness over the seemingly insignificant incident of striking the rock for water.
“For both of you betrayed Me with the Israelites at the waters of Meribah at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. You failed to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel there.” Deuteronomy 32:51 (emphasis mine)
God’s way is the only way. Whether we're talking about salvation, worship, or anything that He has instructed us in. His way is the only way.
- I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.