In preparation for my next writing project, some of my research has me reading the Book of Leviticus. I’m a huge fan of the OT, so this is no problem for me, although, as many of you know, Leviticus can be a bit repetitious in parts.
At the inauguration of the priesthood of Aaron and his sons, (Lev. 8 -10) there is an incident when Nadab and Abihu get a little carried away in the moment and offer an extemporaneous incense offering to the LORD. Well this “unholy fire” resulted in a spontaneous combustion of holy fire that destroyed them both on the spot. Not a good way to start – or end — a ministry. In the midst of this tragedy and all its implications, Aaron’s other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, had taken the “goat of the sin offering” and burned it instead of eating it in the sanctuary as they had been commanded to do by Moses. Well, Moses was not a happy camper about this second indiscretion by his newly installed priests and let Aaron know about. Aaron in turn explains the reasoning behind it, something that we’re not totally privy to, and Moses is satisfied. (10:16-20)
In one commentary, there are two explanations given for what Aaron may have said to Moses as to why Eleazar and Ithamar did what they did. One, they were too distraught to celebrate the joy that comes from the atoning work of the sin offering. The second, they were totally unworthy to eat the offering because they recognized the depth of their own sinfulness before God. The commentator dismisses the “joy” explanation as being unthinkable in this context, at anytime.
I thought about that since “joy” seems to be such an integral part of worship or the normal Christian life in our culture. When I first came to Christ, I could not contain my enthusiasm. Then after a while, it seemed I needed to manufacture it. That does not mean I was not happy in my life with Christ, or that I was not excited about what Christ had done for me, it just means that my outward enthusiasm had diminished. I suspect that’s somewhat a regular occurrence for folks. Anyway, I felt like I needed to keep the outward thing going, so I made every effort to do that. And believe me, it required a lot of effort. I don’t feel like I have to do that any more.
Joy is a good thing. How I express my joy is my thing. When I think of my sin and what Christ did that there might be atonement for my sin, yes, there is joy. But, there is more a sense of grief that my sin put him there in the first place.
Father, I know if it wasn’t me, it would be someone else. But it was me, it was my sin that put your Son on the cross. My heart is so heavy with grief because of that. I never want to take my sin casually because for Him it was so costly. I know I need not walk in sorrow, because of the resurrection and the forgiveness through Christ, yet I do not ever want to be so cavalier about it that I forget Calvary. Thank you Father that you love me enough….