Different Than He Commanded

“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.” Leviticus 10:1 NLT

What’s the big deal here? 

  • This chapter begins with a very important truth to take to heart:  With very specific instructions from God, we choose to do things differently than God has commanded us to.
  • There is a follow-up truth:  God is not OK with us adapting and modifying His specific direction. It is a challenge to His holy character. 

Here is how God responded to Aaron’s son’s self-directed innovation: “So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.” Leviticus 10:2 NLT

Aaron’s sons showed up to do their holy work.  It appears they were tending to things. They chose a modified approach to the instructions God gave them.  Perhaps it seemed to be a better and more efficient way.  Maybe it was easier to prepare.  The Bible doesn’t tell us why they chose to modify God’s specific instructions for sacrifice, it just tells us they did.

Why such a strong response from God?

Here is the answer: Aaron’s sons had spiritual authority and responsibility to display God’s holiness for all the people.  Their obedience to God in specific detail was very important. There wasn’t room for any leader of the Tabernacle (tent of the meeting) to do their own re-interpretation of God’s word.

In effect, God says that anyone portraying the presence of God to others does not have the freedom to make up their own ways, while still giving the impression they are obeying God. You and I are reflecting the holiness and glory of God to the world when we obey God by loving each other in the same way Jesus loved his disciples.  This is the command of Jesus!

This is often communicated today in a dangerous way (not unlike Aaron’s sons) to take the command of Jesus to love each other. Yet we dismiss the other commandments of Jesus (truth) about how we are to follow Him and relate to the people around us.

Jesus is not telling us to use His commandment to love as a way of dismissing the truth of who God is, and our need for Him.   There is a contemporary word for this today: relativism. Relativism does not let us see the fullness of who God is. In the Old Testament book of Judges, relativism was stated like this: “People did what was right in their own eyes.”  This included many of the leaders of the faith.

What about you? Consider these questions and reflections:

  • Are you following the commands of Jesus?
  • Are you living out God’s truth with God’s love?
  • Are you putting your spin on modifying what God is saying?
  • Are you using your spiritual authority to justify doing and teaching things that are not in alignment with God?
  • Are you loving others well?
  • Are you holding up the truth of God with love?
  • Does your life reflect the holiness and glory of God?

 – Ed McDowell, C.E.O. Warm Beach Camp Ministries