Lent Devotion for February 14, Ash Wednesday
Reader: “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering…”
Response: “…when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy…"
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 9:15-10:3
15 Aaron then brought the offering that was for the people. He took the goat for the people’s sin offering and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering as he did with the first one.
16 He brought the burnt offering and offered it in the prescribed way. 17 He also brought the grain offering, took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering.
18 He slaughtered the ox and the ram as the fellowship offering for the people. His sons handed him the blood, and he splashed it against the sides of the altar. 19 But the fat portions of the ox and the ram—the fat tail, the layer of fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver— 20 these they laid on the breasts, and then Aaron burned the fat on the altar. 21 Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh before the Lord as a wave offering, as Moses commanded.
22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.
23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
10 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’”
Aaron remained silent.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
This passage of Scripture may seem a little curious to some people. As you know, Aaron was the High Priest for the Israelites, chosen and ordained by God to serve as mediator between God and His people. He was the human link between the holiness of God and the brokenness of the children of Israel. The book of Leviticus speaks more of the holiness of God, than any other Old Testament book. Throughout this Testament, God reveals His person and character including His holiness. One of the strongest images of God’s holiness is that of fire. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament reminds us that our God is “a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29). In this Leviticus passage, God was teaching His people to worship with reverence and awe. He also made very specific as to how people were to approach Him. This “fire” motive appears again and again in the Scriptures. It was at the burning bush that God called Moses. The people were used to following a “pillar of fire” as God led His people in the wilderness. The top of Mt. Sinai was aflame as God met with Moses in delivering the Law. Fire was significant in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, Elijah’s life, John the Baptist’s proclamation that believers would be “baptized with fire and the Holy Spirit,” and a host of other occurrences. In this case, as Moses and Aaron came out of the Tent of Meeting with God, God revealed His glory to the people and He sent fire miraculously to consume the burnt offering. The people responded with joy and worship as they fell facedown in bowing before their holy God. For some reason, two of Aaron’s sons decided to make their own fire before God. They were not the high priest, and did not have the authority to offer such. As a result dishonoring the Lord before all the people in defiance of God’s clear command, holy fire from God ended their lives. Tragically, Aaron understood. Awe and reverence and humility before God in worship are marks of the worshiper of our holy God, as our High Priest, Jesus, intercedes on our behalf before a holy God.
“Holy, Holy, Holy” by Dube Brothers (Watch on YouTube)
(We’ll see you at the 6:30pm Ash Wednesday service tonight!)
Holy Father, through the incalculable offering of your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, you have fulfilled all of the Old Testament offerings in that one perfect atoning sacrifice. All praise and honor and glory be to our High Priest who has opened the way into your holy presence. We are the tainted dust of the earth to which we will return, but in your wondrous Son, you have opened the way to eternal life in a world free from sin and the stain of a fallen and rebellious people. May the fire of the Holy Spirit rest on us as was the case at Pentecost. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. You have called us to be holy, because you are holy. Grant that we may live in such a way this first day of Lent that in giving up our old natures we may attain unto thy holy purpose in our lives and bring honor and glory to your kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. In the name of our Savior and High Priest, even Jesus our Lord. Amen.
- Dan Sharp