Holy fire and human flailing
Lord Jesus, please hear the heart of your handmaiden.
I read this morning in Leviticus 10 of the death of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu. As is the case every single time I read it, my heart aches for Aaron and his wife and his family. Here is Aaron, in his mid-80s at least, and his sons — were they reckless youths? We know they had no children according to the scriptures.
It seems so harsh, Lord Jesus, so final, so – well, so without warning. I always struggle when I plow my way through this passage and read of a father who “said nothing” when it happened. A father who wasn’t allowed the “comfort of mourning,” wasn’t given any time off from his job, all under the threat of death. “And Aaron . . . obeyed” (Lev. 10:7).
What must he have felt, though, and how could he have dealt with it? There was no arguing about who had passed the severe judgement, no arguing with this God who had, always had, the final say, the trump card, the final word, supreme power , ultimate authority . . . This morning I feel like this fuzzy, rebel brain is at the very edge of an answer that can help this aching heart.
First of all, Lord Jesus, I do not know the whole of the circumstances that let up to this. From what it says, the boys (young men) were duly warned, thoroughly instructed and well aware of what the protocol was. And because you are GOD (who has the final say, ultimate authority, etc.) what you did was right — and (though I choke when I say this) GOOD.
Father-God, in this whole nitter-natter about “Why?” and seeking to come to acceptance and peace, I feel like I am missing something important. Something to do with your holiness. Something about the God-fire purity that is the essence of this “I AM” God, whom I’ve chosen as my God, but whose very essence I do not begin to comprehend. I cannot capture the depth, the intensity, the incomprehensible HOLINESS that is God. Awesome, powerful and eternal — and yet, you love me like a protective Father; care (infinitely more than I can imagine!) what is going on in my heart and call me to reflect that holiness with purity. And it occurs to me that when I offer anything else back to you except “holy fire,” it spells DEATH.
But why? Lord Jesus, why?
Is it because what is at the root of the “strange fire” is an attempt to appear right before you, and before those watching? That is not only prideful and deceitful, but an affront to and a contradiction of WHO you are and WHAT you are. And this strange fire cannot help but be swallowed up, consumed by the intensity of your holiness and purity. It’s not as much a judgment call by a holy God as it is a very natural consequence. It’s almost like a tiny flame, inching up a glowing wick to a stick of dynamite, assuming he is the victor because he burned the wick all the way to the end. None of us would say it was the dynamite’s fault for totally encompassing and extinguishing the flame. We would think it ridiculously ostentatious for other flames, looking on to accuse the dynamite of wrongdoing or hasty judgment or unfeelingly, arbitrarily “making rules” that explode with deafening brilliance and force and destruction and death.
Oh, holy God, our God! Passionate and pure and intense and full of fire. Not because you decide to be, but rather it is because you ARE. Somehow you decided to use poor, wretched humans to reflect your perfect holiness — elevating us to sons and daughters (Family!), and we accuse you of being unfeeling or unfair when we fall victims of our own foolish, selfish and prideful plans that cannot begin to stand before you — glorious, awesome, righteous, burning holiness and purity.
And it is just that, heavenly Father. I cannot stand before you, pretending to have any fire that matters to you at all. I feel exposed, weak and useless in my wretched reasoning and the offerings I bring. I want to cower in the darkness, away from your throne, wondering what to do next. But I hear words of hope ringing in this head that I want to cover.
“For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched by the feelings of our infirmities . . . in all points, tempted like as we are . . . ” (Heb. 4:15)
Ah, Lord Jesus! My brother, my redeemer! The one whose fire is the only fire I can offer back to the Father — I eagerly and frantically and deliberately and with nothing to repay you, choose you!
The fear melts away, the bitterness running off my heart in rivulets as you become righteousness in me, rekindling the only fire that is acceptable to God the Father.
And my heart gives grateful, humble praise.
MaryAnn Yutzy lives in Milford, Del. She attended Rosedale Bible College in Irwin, Ohio. She blogs at Delaware Grammy, where this first appeared.
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