“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (Lev. 10:1-2)
How shocking it must have been! What would Aaron have thought? Losing two of his sons like that. It must have been extremely traumatic for him. Yet he and his other two sons were not even to mourn for the sudden death of their family members. “Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'” And Aaron held his peace” (Lev. 10:3) They were not to let the hair of their heads hang loose, or tear their clothes which were the expressions of mourning in their context.
It was a serious matter, serving God as priests. God is holy, and serving a perfectly holy God was a risky business. You could literally die. They were to follow God’s orders exactly and accurately as best as possible. God gives them instructions and three times they were told that the consequence of disobedience was death.
After such incident, Aaron’s two remaining sons were too afraid to perform the ritual close to the fire, so they left an animal sacrifice to be burned up instead of eaten by them as instructed. Moses was angry and diligently inquired them about it, but Aaron intervened, saying, “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?” (Lev. 10:19) Aaron and his sons were still in a shock and trauma after seeing their sons and brothers being killed instantly before the fire of the sacrifices, and couldn’t possibly come near the fire to perform the ritual, and Moses accepted the explanation.
God is a perfect, holy, and righteous God absolutely separated from everything evil and unclean. To stand before him, between him and sinful people is a direly serious business. The sons of Aaron were not apt for such important job, and even Aaron himself was too afraid. Who can stand before him on behalf of us then? Who will be our priest stand before him offering sacrifices for our sins?
Jesus Christ. Our High Priest. He stood before God on behalf of us. Our perfect Priest. He was the only one who could do that without making a mistake. The sinless one bearing the sins of the world on his shoulder. Why? Why did he do such a radical thing?
Us. Because of us. We were the reason. Because he loves us. Because God loves us. Because God loves me. Because God loves you. He came down, and stood between the fearful God of justice and righteousness and hopeless and sinful people of rebellion and iniquity, and took the deadly blow of God’s wrath upon him and died for us. God’s just anger subsided, Jesus fell down, and we’re standing before God, accepted and embraced as perfect and holy, loved. The perfect sacrifice of the Lamb, pure and unblemished, was accepted by God.
Thank you Jesus, my true and ultimate Priest and Sacrifce.