Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20- Willful Disobedience

February 20, 2011
Scripture Readings:
Leviticus 9:7-10:20; Mark 4:26-5:20;
Psalm 37:30-40; Proverbs 10:6-7
Whenever there is authority, there is a natural inclination to disobedience. 
~Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Leviticus 9:7-10:20

It is a beautiful sunny morning.  Jane is a confident young mother.  Her child, Sam, is the perfect baby.  Jane has nurtured and loved him.  Sam is developing nicely. As he sits on the floor playing with blocks in the warm and cozy kitchen, Jane prepares his breakfast.  Sam is around two years old and can murmur a few words.  He has learned dada, mama, and no.  Jane notices that Sam has moved over to the electrical outlet and it trying to put his finger in the socket.  She promptly goes to Sam and holds his hand.  Looking intently into his eyes, Jane says, “No, Sam.  Do not put your finger in the electrical socket. NO.”  Sam is startled.  He looks down and pouts.  Jane walks back over to the counter, but keeps her eye on Sam.  He lifts his eyes and gazes at her as his finger moves slowly back towards the socket.
Today in our reading we see willful disobedience that brings the swift judgment of God.  The men who disobey are not two year olds.  They are old enough to know better than to disobey, but their actions and tragic deaths are a lesson to the whole community of Israel and to you and me today.
Everything seems to be going smoothly.  Aaron and his sons have completed the sin offering, burnt offering, grain offering, and peace offering without a hitch.  The glorious presence of the Lord has come down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  The people are so overwhelmed with God’s powerful presence that they fall flat on their faces in awe and worship. 
Then, Nadab and Abilu decide to put coals of fire in their incense burner and sprinkle some incense over it. They had been instructed in Exodus 30:34-38 the exact formula for the incense.  They had been told how and when to do this ritual.  We are not sure exactly which rule they broke.  Some commentators think that they used coals that were not from the altar.  They were supposed to only use fire coals from the altar for the incense burners.  Regardless, God, who is the consuming fire, blazes forth and burns them up.  This is a shocking incident. 
Moses speaks to Aaron after the incident and says, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will show myself holy among those who are near me.  I will be glorified before all the people.’”
Aaron’s response to this was silence.  Although this response may seem odd, Aaron was probably in shock. His silence is a sign of humility and faith.
After this incident, Moses gives Aaron and his remaining sons the rule that they are never to drink wine or alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle.  Some commentators speculate that Nadab and Abilu were drunk when they sinned.  Regardless, this is a harsh reminder that God is a god of judgment.  As representatives of the people before God, these men had a responsibility to obey God’s rules regarding the sacrifices.
If these sacrifices and offerings are a picture of Christ, then Nadab and Abilu profaned the picture of Jesus that God was creating.  Their disobedience reflected more than willful disobedience, it reflected a lack of faith in following God’s way. Rather than relying on the Spirit of God in their lives, they were relying on alcohol and what they thought was right. They showed contempt for God and his regulations. God showed zero tolerance for this in the priesthood.
God can use physical death in the life of a believer to stop harmful living. Some people call this a severe mercy. For the most part, people today live under the age of grace brought forth by Christ.  This should not cause us to be slackers in our faith.  Obedience is a key characteristic of true faith in Christ.  Obedience prevents getting burned by our Consuming Fire.
How do you feel about the extreme nature of the punishment these men received?  How does this tie to the concept that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord?

Mark 4:26-5:20
Mark confirms in his gospel that Jesus taught the people only in parables and would later explain the parables to the disciples.  Remember the image of a small group bible study.  Jesus was their leader.  We will see him explain the whole Old Testament to them once he is resurrected. Jesus exemplified leadership through discipleship. The life of faith is the life of teaching the truths of Christ in a loving, committed relationship. The grace of God is taught as you walk by the road, sit in the living room, and eat in the kitchen together. This is what we see Christ doing with his disciples. Living life and modeling truth.
Next, Jesus shows his authority over nature when he calms the wind and the waves when a storm rises up on the lake.  Mark is making sure that the Gentiles who read this gospel are aware of Jesus’ power over nature.
Another demon possessed man comes out to meet Jesus once he lands on shore from the boat.  Following the pattern of all the evil spirits, he shrieks that Christ is torturing him and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus asks what his name is. The demons answer that they are legions.  Think in terms of a Roman army regiment here. This poor man who no one could be around because of his extreme violence and super human strength was filled with evil spirits. The demons recognize that they are in a spiritual war and are troops with a mission. They also recognize that they are in front of the Commander of God's Forces. The demons beg Christ not to be sent into the abyss.  It should be noted that there are presently rebellious angels who are in the abyss that are released in the end times (See Revelation 9).  The abyss is a portion Sheol or Hades, also called  the place of the dead, where those who are not followers of Christ go when they die. Hades/Sheol is where both fallen angels (demons) and unsaved humans await the final judgment before being condemned to hell. 

Jesus asks the demons (fallen angels) if they would like to be sent into the pigs. They agree to this.  The pigs promptly run off the side of a cliff and die. The townspeople want nothing to do with Jesus.  What can we learn here? 
·        People can be possessed by evil spirits.
·        Demons have names and are individual creations with personalities and limited will.
·        Demons have knowledge of Jesus and his authority.
·        Demons are aware they will be judged one day.
·        Demons can possess an unsaved person and control that person’s actions and physical body.

These stories in Scripture teach us realities about things we are unable to see.  The spirit world is for the most part not accessible to us.  Jesus’ interaction with these demons is important for all believers.  We are not to fear demons.  If Jesus is our Lord, then his power within us keeps us safe from evil spirits. Remember, greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world.
Do you fear the supernatural?  Do you spend time worrying about ghosts and demons?
Psalm 37:30-40
Vs. 30-31 The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong. They fill their hearts with God’s law, so they never slip from his path.
Can you say this about yourself?
Proverbs 10:6-7
If you are godly, you are showered with blessings.  Have you counted your blessings today?
What did you see today as you studied?
Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton


  1. I looked up the OT story in a commentary and it said the two sons probably didn't use the proper incense nor did they wait to burn incense at the proper time, and they went in together when it was supposed to be one at a time. It also said that Aaron, while sad, also probably acknowledged that this display of God's holiness brought God glory. I found it hard, but I think we really have no clue as to how very holy God is. Sobering.

  2. This is very sobering. He was serious about the pictures of Christ He was setting up through this system!

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  4. I loved that verse when we read it in Proverbs the other day. "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom."

    I truly believe your statement, "God can use physical death in the life of a believer to stop harmful living." I've seen it.

    I do not fear the supernatural, because God is supernatural!

  5. Amen and Amen, Terri. I've seen it, too.