Sermon in a nut shell: What is the “right” Fire? (Leviticus 10: 1-7)
We obey the biblical teachings because God knows what is right and what is wrong.
When we had Ferry Accident in Korea, we found out that many people violated the safety rules. Many people made their own personal evaluations and thought that it was fine for them to ignore the safety regulations. Then more than 250 high school students died. Safety experts made those rules and regulations considering all the possible worst cases. Those things may not happen usually. However, we now learn that when crew members ignored them, such a tragic accident can happen. Crew members should not have their personal opinions in those areas. They have to follow the rules.
We cannot cross over certain boundaries.
Rules are not burdens but guidelines for us to have long and abundant life. When we cross over the lines, we will die. God designed and created the world in a certain way and God knows every detail of the rules of the world. When God says, “Don’t Do It,” that is because God wants us not to be hurt or killed.
We face consequences of crossing-over the boundaries even when we have good intentions!
We watched a movie “Mary and Martha” together to enhance our awareness of the seriousness of death toll caused by Malaria in Africa. In the movie, we saw a young man, who gave his Malaria pills to other weaker people to save them. But he died. He had all good intention. He was young and strong but he did not keep the rule and died. We can protest and say, “Why? God! He was a good man! You should have protected his life! Rules are rules even when we have good intentions. When we violate them, we have to face the consequences.
God can make good use of his sacrifices but cannot stop him dying!
Here is God’s dilemma. God cannot bend His own rule. God still wants to give an abundant life to everybody. So, what can God do when we violate God’s rule? The best thing that God can do is to make a good use of it whether that was our mistake or sin. Even though the young man died, his mother could start a new campaign that could save millions of lives now. Is God cruel? I would say that God is just. God wanted to save humanity and still God could not just pardon everybody. God should pay the price of human sins and allowed His only begotten Son to pay the price by dying on the Cross. Then God made the best use of his death. God was able to save everybody who believes in Jesus and His salvation work.
If we feel truly sorry for the loss of the people, we need to find meaning in the loss while we are grieving.
In today’s text we witnesses to the death of two men: Nadab and Abihu. They were Aaron’s sons. They offered “unholy fire” before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. And “holy” fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. The text does not say that the Lord sent fire. It says, “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord.” It is like that they crossed over the boundaries and went into the fire. Then the Aaron’s family was told not to show sorrow for their death!
As a leader, Aaron had to move on to make the tragedy an opportunity to teach God’s Holiness.
I know that some of the crew members of the Ferry also died. However, the parents of the workers could not show their sorrow in public. I saw them on TV. They all tried to hide their own personal grief and to show sympathy for the families of the young students. As a leader, Aaron should care for the well-being of the whole nation first. He could not cry over the death of his sons who violated the law of the Lord. He had to make sure that the survival of the nation should be secured.
Are we serious about God’s words?
Why Aaron’s sons did offer different fire than God commanded? Because they thought that it was not a big deal they ignore them. They thought that fire was fire and there was no difference. It was like the Ferry crews thought that those regulations were not important. They had gone the same route over and over again and done the same things for many years. Nothing happened. They ignored the rules as if they were nothing. Then young people died. Many times, Christians also respond to the words of God in that way. They chose which passages are applied to them and which are not. Many people even do not read the Bible any more. They do not know how to find the biblical passages when they are asked to.
Burden of proof is ours when we think that the Bible is wrong.
Because we believe that God is always right we need to prove that God is wrong when we think God is wrong. Unless we have evidences that God meant something else we have to honor the meaning of the text. Otherwise we would violate the laws of the Lord and offer “unholy fire” and face the consequences. If we believe that God is generally outdated and wrong, we can pick and choose which Bible verse are still working and which are not. However, when we believe that God is always right, we have to struggle what those passages really mean when we feel that they are not right. Before we have certain confidence in the interpretation, let us honor the biblical passages and listen to them. They are the Words of God.
- Which Bible passages bother you a lot? Why?
- What are the acceptable interpretations about those passages? How have you come up with such interpretation?
- What practical differences does it make when you have settled with that interpretation?