Over the last few months, I have been sharing some brief reflections on the book of Leviticus. This is a reflection on the tenth chapter.
“Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Among those who are with me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’””Leviticus 10:3
Samuel the prophet had passed away and all the mediums had been expelled from the land of Israel. So, when the Philistines declared war on Israel, king Saul had no-one to turn to. God refused to hear his pleas because he was still intent on killing David. Instead of repenting, Saul disguised himself in a cloak and went to visit a witch who lived in Endor. He asked her to bring back the prophet Samuel, that he might bring him favour from the Lord in battle. But when she summoned Samuel, he was not happy about it. He exclaimed, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me back?” (1 Samuel 28:15). And even though Saul begged him for advice on what to do, on how to win the battle ahead, Samuel instead assured him that Israel would lose the battle and that both himself and his sons would die the following day.
God had been very clear to Israel that he hated idolatry, that false worship would never be acceptable to him. Visiting witches and mediums was utterly forbidden in Israel and in the case of Saul, it was the icing on the cake which led to his destruction. The same was the case in the days of Aaron. When his sons Nadab and Abihu offered their own fire on the altar instead of waiting for the Lord’s fire to come down (as we saw in the previous chapter), they were both instantly struck down by God, literally consumed by his fire.
God himself establishes worship and he teaches us how it is to be conducted. True worship begins with a holy reverence of God. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews put it: “let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28b-29) In worship, we must be concerned first and foremost with what pleases the Lord, and not with our own preferences. In this way, we will ensure that everything we do is for the glory of God.