2 Chronicles 13 and Leviticus 10.1-2 – True and false worship of God
Posted: 28 November 2011 in 2 Chronicles, Leviticus

“And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men…. And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever….? And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods. But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.”

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”

Although the Bible contains much history, it never relates history for history’s own sake. Here the point being made is that any worship, not regulated by what God himself has commanded, will inevitably degenerate into idolatry. The reason for that is simply human sinfulness, and the way it comes to infect almost everything men (or women) touch. Although the worship of the northern kingdom was still formally that of Yahweh, it had clearly degenerated into idolatry, with images which had been expressly forbidden by God, and with a priesthood open to anyone – again in clear contravention of the divine ordinance explicitly reserving the priesthood to Aaron and his sons.

Worship which is presumptuous, and perhaps even idolatrous, is an offence to God’s majesty. He cannot allow it to go unpunished, and that which happened to Nadab and Abihu is an extreme example of what could follow. Both the Old and the New Testaments contain explicit injunctions to fear God, but in spite of that there is a lot of worship around today which is based upon a “Jesus is my buddy” type of spirituality. Jesus is our Lord and saviour, and perhaps (in a certain sense) our friend – if we do whatsoever he commands us (John 15.14). But he is not our buddy. The sovereign Lord of the universe can only rightly be approached in a spirit of fear and reverence, and, if it is not to be presumptuous, it must also be in ways which the New Testament authorises as being pleasing to God.

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