by Steven Chan
When the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu offered profane fire to the Lord which He had not commanded them, God caused fire to devour them. Aaron, as the father must have been quite upset at what happened to his two beloved sons. In Lev 10:3, the Bible recorded what Moses (who was also the uncle of the two who died) said to Aaron:
“This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ”
It is important to note the effect of what Moses said on Aaron: “So Aaron held his peace.” This meant that Aaron then understood why his two sons were consumed by fire from God. They had failed to glorify God. Although Aaron had been a faithful servant of God, his personal faithfulness failed to prevent his two sons from being consumed by fire from God when they failed to glorify God by offering fire that God had not commanded, i.e. profane fire. This rather sad and tragic event is recorded in the Scriptures to warn us that what we offer to God matters to God, and that if our offering to Him fails to honor what He has commanded or required of us, then God would not be pleased with our offering.
In I Sam 15, God rejected the offering of Kind Saul and the people because they offered that which He did not permit them (i.e. the “best of the plunder of the Amalekites” which God had commanded to be destroyed). Samuel said to King Saul in 1 Sam 15:22-23:-
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
In Malachi 1:6-8, God reasoned with His people:-
6 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ 7 “You offer defiled food on My altar. But say,’ In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’ 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.
God was not pleased with His people during the time of prophet Malachi because they failed to give Him due honor and reverence. The sad and tragic thing was that the priests and the people failed to understand that they had failed to honor and respect God – even when God told them so! Instead they asked – almost obstinately and self-righteously: ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’ In what way have we defiled You?’ No wonder Jesus referred to the religious leaders of His days on earth, as “blind guides” (Matt 15:14). They dishonoured God by what they offered (“polluted bread” -KJV) and defiled His Name by what they say about the table of the Lord (i.e. it being “contemptible”) – most probably by their action and attitude.
The people of Israel thought that as long as they dutifully and ritualistically make offerings to God that would be sufficient. They failed to realize that God expects His people to offer Him exactly what He expects of them (i.e. animals without blemish whatsoever) and with an attitude of honor and reverence. The purity of both the offerings and the offeror are important.
This idea is repeated in the New Testament by the apostle Paul with regards our partaking of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11:27-30:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
Most Christians know that it is important to partake of the Lord’s Supper. But some fail to realize that the heart and attitude of the offeror/worshipper are just as important to Him. Jesus said in Matt 15:8-9: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me…” How would God view those Christians who habitually rushed to partake the Lord’s Supper and immediately rushed out (before the service is over) to pursue their own interests and obligations?
The Lord’s Supper is not to be partaken in a disrespectful or purely ritualistic manner. It is a memorial of His death and a proclamation of His coming again. Any action, attitude or thought inconsistent with that respect and honor to be accorded to our Lord while partaking of the Lord’s Supper would not be well-pleasing to Him, and that Christian will bring judgement upon himself. Offering “polluted bread” would constitute dishonour and disrespect to Him. So let us examine ourselves when we prepare the elements of the Lord’s Supper and when we partake of them – are we truly being respectful of Him?
The same consideration applies to the other sacrifices that we offer. In Heb 13:15, the Bible says:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Let’s consider what we offer in praise to God as well as how we offer our praise to Him. Do we consider our coming to worship or our “singing” as wearisome (?) – just like the people of God in Malachi’s days (Mal 1:13): “You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’
God gave them a simple test of acceptability of their worship in Mal 1:8:
”Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.”
In other words, if we show the same kind of attitude and offer the same kind of “less than the best” offerings to our earthly governors or dignitaries, would they be pleased with us?
We should examine our “attitude” as well as the “quality” of our offerings that we offer to God each time we make our offerings to Him. The Lord of hosts says: “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence?” The lack of respect and honor in their offerings to God cost the lives of the two dear sons of Aaron and nephews of Moses – not any acts of immorality or heretical teachings.
We will do well to give due honor and reverence to God especially when we come to worship Him. Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 5:8: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”