“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abiju took their censures, put fire in them and added incense: and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord…” “All Nadab and Abiju did was offer some ‘strange fire’ there…” “A censurable offense, perhaps, but the death penalty?…” “Without the benefit of a trial? Immediate, summary execution…?” “The instructions had been clear. The altar of incense was declared by God to be ‘most holy…’ When Nadab and Abiju offered strange or unauthorized fire on it, they were acting in clear defiance of God. Theirs was an act of blatant rebellion, inexcusable profaning of the Holy Place. They committed a sin of arrogance, an act of treason against God: They profaned a most holy place.” (RC Sproul, “The Holiness of God,” Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois. 1998, p.140, 143)This sample passage from Leviticus may seem harsh and almost ruthless, in fact, this pericope is what many students and scholars of the Bible have come to call “hard saying.” In other words, this is one of those “hard sayings” of the Bible. There are more, especially in the Old Testament. However, this passage sandwiched in the book of “holiness” is quite appropriate. Sometimes our cultural and societal sensibilities are challenged by such a capital punishment especially by a “loving God.” Nevertheless, God is Holy! He cannot look upon, taste, hear, nor tolerate any deviation from His standard of righteousness no matter what peccadillo it may be. As small as the violation may be, as the example of Nadab and Abiju, it still remains a breach, and therefore, an act of treason, rebellion, and defiance. We cannot become so insensitive to sin as to not pay attention to the smallest sin. Sin is sin. “The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.” (RC Sproul, “The Holiness of God,” p.164) Have you placed your life under the microscope of God’s Holiness? Or, have you tried to hide and secretly dismiss some small sin? Work diligently to uncover any secret sin!
Pastor Jim Cater