So let Christ’s challenging words at the end of his parable about the virgins ‘illuminate’ our minds “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day not the hour”. This request is more important than ever – for the storm clouds illuminating human helplessness are greater than ever – and the wise virgins need to be together whenever they can. But what are they to “watch” for? We will read tomorrow of Jesus in the garden with his disciples and his request, “… watch with me … Watch and pray … the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40,41). Meditate on the kind of watching Jesus was referring to.
“I will be sanctified”
‘Sanctified’ means recognized as holy, set apart from the commonplace; treating a situation or place with all reverence. Above all, this must be our attitude toward God. In our Leviticus reading today we see the dramatic and disastrous result of a failure to do this.
Imagine being there with all the wonder of the tabernacle and the manifestation of the actual presence of God as worship in it began! We read, “the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offerings …” (9:23,24). As a result human attitudes of reverence and humility should have been paramount. The reaction at the time was totally understandable, “they shouted and fell on their faces” (verse 24).
Aaron had 4 sons, all were involved in assisting their father and today’s chapter tells us how tragedy overwhelmed two of them. In the way we speak today we might judge that their position of importance went to their head! Nadab and Abihu “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” (10:1).
The result was terrifying for they “died before the LORD” as fire from him “consumed them” (verse 2). Moses then says to Aaron, “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the peopleI will be glorified” (verse 3).
There is a vital lesson here for everyone who seeks to serve God and have a close relationship with him: this applies to Christians just as much as to Israelites. Several examples of a failure to do this come to mind. One is the practice of christening of babies in many churches, which is not mentioned in the Bible – or even hinted at – instead the followers of Christ practiced baptism, which is described as “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21). Another is the teaching of people of a “different gospel” to “distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6,7). Paul says, “let him be accursed” (verse 9); who does that – and this is what happened to two of the sons of Aaron. A most important lesson for us as we follow Christ and the Apostles, doing so in ways which truly follow the example they set and the words they preached.