In Chapters 8 through 10, we see the priests – Aaron and his sons – separated unto God. They were anointed and set apart from the people. They made sacrifices in the temple for the first time and the Glory of the Lord went out and burned the offering on the altar. What an awesome show of acceptance by God. Scripture describes the scene:

the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to the whole community. 24Fire blazed forth from the LORD’S presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.
Leviticus 9:23b-24

Wow! Joy and humility characterized the people’s response. How will you respond when you experience the Lord’s presence in such a manifest way? How do you respond when you experience Him? I’ve not experienced the literal fire of the Lord, but I’ve experienced times when the presence of the Lord was so strong I felt like I would literally touch Him if I reached out my hand. True awe best expresses my reaction.

Before the Lord’s presence awed the Israelites, there was a time of anointing, preparation and sacrifice as Aaron and his sons were appointed as priests.

Remembering that we are part of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), I found the process for ordaining Aaron and his sons into the priesthood interesting. There were two things that particularly spoke to me:

  • Their anointing accomplished two things – it made them holy and acceptable in God’s eyes, and it empowered them to bless God’s people. Any blessing God gives to us He wants us to pass on.
  • The process set them apart for God’s use – both in their eyes and in the eyes of the Israelites. This was particularly evident in the requirement for Aaron and his sons to stay at the entrance of the tabernacle for eight days. During that time, as the Israelites went about their daily life they would have seen Aaron and his sons and recognized that these men were called by God to represent them before God. Likewise, the weight of their responsibility would have settled on Aaron and his sons as they watched the people living their lives.

Eight Days…and Three Suggestions
This eight days at the entrance of the tabernacle also speaks to me of waiting upon the Lord. The tabernacle was where the presence of the Lord dwelt. Aaron and his sons waited…and waited…and waited…in the glow of the presence of the Lord. Can you imagine it? Knowing that the presence of the Lord was just feet, perhaps inches, away but not being able to enter. I can imagine that it built up a hunger for God, an expectation of experiencing His presence, and an anticipation for serving Him. I imagine it also created some frustration and thus taught patience and obedience. We also need to set ourselves apart for God’s use. Here are three ideas about how to do that:

  • Observe a Sabbath or Lord’s Day each week. You’ll find a series of three blogs I wrote about keeping the Sabbath identified here.
  • Schedule times away with God. I had a friend who worked for a large church. Everyone on staff was given four paid hours each month during which they could participate in any activity that would draw them nearer to God. What a great idea! Now you may not have anyone paying you to seek the Lord, but make time for it anyway.
  • Observe holidays as holy-days. The Old Testament is full of festivals that were observed by the Israelites. Make changes to how you anticipate and celebrate Easter and Christmas so that they truly are holy-days, reminding you and your family that you are a people set apart for God’s use.

Knowing that we have been set apart for good works, for worship and for fellowship with God can radically change our outlook and our behavior. Learn to anticipate Him by building times of being in His presence into your life.

Don’t Mourn
There’s one incident in these three chapters that has always bothered me. Two of Aaron’s sons are killed by the fire of the Lord when they offer a sacrifice inappropriately. Moses tells Aaron and his two remaining sons “not to mourn by letting your hair hang loose or by tearing your clothes…” That always seemed so callous to me and totally impractical. How could a man not mourn the death of his sons or his brothers? I never understood until this reading that Moses isn’t telling them not to mourn – not to experience the emotion of grieving. He’s telling them not to go through the actions that were normal in their culture to indicate that you were in mourning. They might not be the actions we would take today – letting our hair hang loose or tearing our clothes – but it was the normal actions in their culture. Such recognition of your grief is a way of honoring the life of the one who has died. To honor the life of one whom God has just most severely punished was inappropriate for the newly installed priests. It would have been as if they were saying that God was wrong to punish them. Aaron and his living sons would have been honoring the men (who dishonored God) above God.

Serving God is Serious Business
Aaron and his sons didn’t just walk into the temple one day and begin serving God. Similarly, we ought to prepare ourselves every day to serve God, and we would do well to take special times throughout the year to remind ourselves (and allow God to remind us) that we have been set apart to serve Him.

And the wonderful, very cool thing is that such times are so refreshing and enjoyable…even when they involve waiting. When are you going to fit your next time with God into your calendar?

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