3 03 2011

DAY SIXTY-TWO : Leviticus 9 v. 1 – 10 v. 20; Mark 11 v. 27 – 12 v. 12; Psalm 29 v. 1 – 11

TODAY is World Book Day – thank God for the gift of books, those which inspire and motivate us, those that challenge and educate us, those which entertain and enrich us.
Thank God for His book, in this special Year of the Bible, for the way it inspires, motivates, challenges, educates, entertains and enriches us.

The Priests begin their ministry – after the seven days of the ordination ‘event’ the scene is set for the start of priestly ministry in the Tabernacle. Aaron and sons offer a bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, and the Israelites offer a goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb for a burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for a fellowship (peace) offering. The promise was that as they offered these sacrifices, at the start of their ministry, “the glory of the Lord will appear to you..”
The previous instructions are adhered to, just as God had laid down for them. After the lengthy process of sacrifices, “Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them.”
Moses and Aaron entered the Tent of Meeting, and when they came out, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people…fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering….all the people saw it, shouted for joy and fell face down.”

what a glorious, awesome, holy moment for the whole community, gathering to worship God, and the fire of His Presence being so evident……BUT !!!

Nadab and Abihu – often, in my experience, all sorts of things can surface when God’s holy presence touches lives, exposing motivations and areas of our lives in need of surrender and cleansing. Here, two of Aaron’s sons, as newly ordained priests, are caught out disobeying God’s plain instructions. They bring ‘unauthorised fire’ into the tabernacle, and they are struck, consumed by the Holy Fire of God. God had ordained the worship He required, and ordained them to present it to the people. Nadab and Abihu, from the start, wanted to bring in their own ideas, their ‘fire from elsewhere’.
These are two of Aaron’s sons, and he is ‘silent’…..
The bodies are carried outside the camp, and Aaron and his remaining sons are denied their opportunity to mourn, having to stay in the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, whilst the anointing oil remains upon them. The rest of the family / community mourn their deaths.

The Lord’s priests are to be of sober conduct, their role is to set the example in clean-living, and to teach the Israelites the words and ways of the Lord.

Aaron, Eleazor and Ithamar are given the portions of the grain offerings and fellowship offerings. When Moses discovers that the priests have burnt the whole of the sin offering goat, instead of reserving those parts which were for them to eat, he questions their disobedience.
Aaron finds his voice, and seems to suggest that either they had been unable to eat, or perhaps had overlooked this aspect, because of all that happened to them, losing Nadab and Abihu (‘such things as this have happened to us’…..’Moses heard this and was satisfied’)

My own reflection – is it the fire of God’s presence that we seek and honour in worship, or do we risk the ‘sin’ of bringing in ‘unauthorised fire’ from outside ? 
There is a purity of God’s holiness here (and the consequences in the reading today are devastating).

Jesus’ Authority – as we know that these religious leaders are looking for a way to kill Jesus, we are all too aware that they are simply trying to trap and trick Him now, asking where His authority comes from. Jesus’ clever question back catches them in their own trap, and Jesus simply won’t play their game – “neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” It should be clear to them the authority Jesus possesses (back to the issue of spiritual sight or blindness with the Bartimaeus reading two days ago).
The Parable of the Tenants – oh, the power of a story to hit home a point. Here, as Jesus tells the parable of a landowner who rents out his vineyard, but whose servants are beaten or killed, one after another, when they turn up to collect ‘some of the fruit’, and who finally sends his son ‘whom he loved’, but whom they also killed, the religious leaders (chief priests, teachers and elders) knew the story was targeting them. Rather than feeling convicted, they hardened themselves all the more, and sought a way to arrest Jesus.  

“Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name;
 worship the Lord in the splendour of His holiness.”

The Lord’s voice is powerful, majestic, breaks down trees, strikes like lightning, shakes the desert…..
“The Lord is enthroned as King forever…the Lord gives strength and blesses His people with peace.”




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