Bible Reading Blog — January 26, 2016

26 Jan

Today’s Readings — Leviticus 8-10 & Mark 5:21-43

Today’s Old Testament reading is a good example of how reading multiple chapters at one sitting can aid understanding. The chapter and verse numbers in our Bibles were not originally there but were inserted centuries later to aid readers in studying and referencing the text. Sometimes they get in the way of understanding a section of Scripture though, which is the case in today’s reading.

At the end of Leviticus chapter 9, after Moses and Aaron have begun to carry out the instructions for the offerings which had been recorded in chapters 1-7, we read this . . .

 

22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Now this is an awe-inspiring affirmation from God of His approval of Moses and Aaron for carrying out His ways. Fire on the altar was a powerful symbol of God’s holy blessing. And this is where chapter nine ends. As we start to read chapter 10, we come across these words . . .
10 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, 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. 2 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ ” And Aaron held his peace.

Now here Nadab and Abihu are put to death for offering unauthorized fire before the Lord. Some skeptics point to this as an example of the harshness of God, as if these young men just broke one little rule and were put to death for it. But when we see what they did in light of the end of chapter 9, God’s strong actions against Him begin to make sense. It seems Nadab and Abihu were playing with fire because they were trying to mimic what God had done at the end of chapter 9, presumably to get glory for themselves. The reason I say this is because of God’s words about His glory in verse 3. Nadab and Abihu tried to rob God of His glory in offering unauthorized fire. God reacted strongly against them because their example as priest would be seen by all the people, causing many to be led astray if not dealt with strongly.

If you read a chapter a day you may very well miss a connection like this but if you read Bible books by sections, it is easier to see the fuller story. Always remember, chapter and verse numbers, though great help in reading and memorizing Scripture, are not inspired by God.

 

 

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