Summary: In the model prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” In other words, “Father, may people revere You as holy. May people treat You as holy.” Leviticus has some timeless principles about what that involves.
We saw a couple Sundays ago if there’s one truth about God that the book of Exodus emphasizes it is that God is holy, which means that He is set apart. He is distinct. He is different, transcendent, incomparable in every good way. He’s incomparable in power, in wisdom, in knowledge, in presence, in righteousness, in goodness. As Moses told Pharaoh, Exodus 9:14, Thus says the Lord, “I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.” The plagues were for the purpose of demonstrating that He is holy, that there is no one, even among “the gods,” who compares with Him. As the people of Israel sang after they’d passed through the Red Sea that God parted for them and they saw the dead bodies of the Egyptian soldiers washed up on the shoreline, Exodus 15:11, “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” We sing of His holiness in that song, “You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words, too wonderful for comprehension like nothing ever seen or heard, who can grasp Your infinite wisdom, who can fathom the depths of Your love.” That He transcends description and comprehension and He’s like nothing ever seen or heard, that’s His holiness. The events of Exodus demonstrate His holiness, different aspects of it, His holy power like no other has, His holy control of this world, His holy knowledge of all things, even things that are yet to be, His holy patience like no other with the stubborn Israelites, His holy mercy when He accepts them back after they repent of breaking the covenant in worshiping the golden calf, and His holy hatred of sin. God had them build a tabernacle in which He would symbolically dwell in the inner room, and this place was to be their worship center. What God commanded in regard to this place shows His holy revulsion toward sin. God was symbolically behind veils and distanced from sinful people. It was a place of a lot of blood and gore. In order for people to be accepted by God, sinless life had to be take, sinless blood had to be shed in their place. God cannot accept someone with sin not atoned for. Even the tabernacle itself and its furniture had to be atoned for once a year, because that stuff was touched by impure people. God is so repulsed by sin He can’t even have stuff that’s been associated with impurity near Him. So even the stuff had to be atoned for with blood. God is so holy. He is different. He is transcendent.
The next book in the Bible, the book of Leviticus, where many of us are at in our daily Bible reading, emphasizes that God must be treated as the holy being that He is and what treating Him as holy involves. It’s a book that had much to say to the Israelites about what they were to do and how they were to be because of who their God is. While we are not under the same Law today as those ancient Israelites (they were under the Law of Moses, we are under the Law of Christ and it’s a different law), Christ still calls us to treat God as holy. In fact He taught us to pray first and foremost that people would do that. In the model prayer He taught us to pray first of all, “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” In other words, “Father, may people revere You as holy. May people treat You as holy.” And Leviticus has some timeless principles about what that involves, and we’re going to look at a couple of them.
THE LESSON FROM THE NADAB AND ABIHU STORY
One principle about treating God has holy we learn from a shocking story in ch10. Most of Leviticus is laws that God gave for the priests and the Israelite people. But chs8,9,10 are a narrative, a story section, in the midst of a bunch of laws. Those 3 chapters cover an 8 day period of time. 7 of those days are covered in ch8. They are the 7 days in which Moses’ brother Aaron and his 4 sons, Eleazar, Ithamar, Nadab and Abihu, were ordained as priests to serve at God’s tabernacle. Chs9-10 describe their first day on the job after they were ordained as priests. It’s started off a great first day on the job. Ch9 describes how God had Moses gather the people of Israel near the tabernacle and commanded Aaron and his sons to offer their first sin offerings and burnt offerings and peace offerings on the bronze altar in the courtyard on behalf of themselves and the people. They offer the sacrifices in the exact manner that God commanded. The animals parts were still smoldering on the altar. And it says (Levitcus 9:23) that “Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting,” meaning they went into the tabernacle. It was perhaps to demonstrate that Aaron is now welcome by God in the tabernacle and perhaps for Moses to introduce Aaron to the sanctuary and the tasks that he would need to lead his sons in doing in there. And then it says Moses and Aaron came back outside and they blessed the people. Maybe something like, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you” (cf. Num 6:24-25). And then it says, “the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.” There had been for days this cloud representing God’s presence above the tabernacle. But all the sudden here there was something glorious in a addition that appeared, maybe some bright light that came forth from the cloud. And then from this glorious manifestation of God’s presence fire came out and consumed what remained of the sacrifices that were smoldering on the altar. This fire just licked up the sacrifices. It was I think an expression from God that He approves and accepts these new priests and these offerings. And it says when the people saw it they shouted and fell on their faces. So so far the first day of their priestly ministry had been an awesome day with this miracle confirming God’s approval.