Leviticus 10:1-20; Mark 5:1-20; Psalms 38:1-18; Proverbs 13:2-3
OT: “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them to do. Then fire came from the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has spoken: I will demonstrate my holiness to those who are near me, and I will reveal my glory before all the people.” And Aaron remained silent.” (Leviticus 10:1-3 CSB)
God had been very specific in describing how worship was to be given to Him. Meticulously, He went over every detail with Moses, and I am sure Moses meticulously rehearsed everything with Aaron and his sons. However, for some reason in the midst of the moment, after God’s fire had come down from heaven to consume the consecrating sacrifice, Nadab and Abihu felt compelled to offer worship in their own way. Perhaps it was something they felt they should do… or maybe it was something they saw the pagan priests in Egypt do – either way, it was out of line with God’s precise prescription. The reaction may seem harsh – but God’s glory and holiness was on full display, and they foolishly did something unholy in the presence of God’s manifest holiness. It wasn’t a punishment as much as it was a consequence of being extremely careless with a raging fire. That event teaches an extremely important point. The worship of God is not nor should not be dictated by the whims of our feelings or compulsions. God has been very specific in what acceptable worship to Him looks like. Though flames don’t shoot out of church altars around the world and incinerate careless worship leaders, the truth remains. God must be regarded as holy, and we should never feel at liberty to worship Him in any way we feel, nor treat His presence as something that can be toyed with. Those who worship the Father must do so in spirit and in truth.
NT: “They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore — not even with a chain… Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” “What is your name?” he asked him. “My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region… The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.” (Mark 5:1-3, 5-10, 12-15 CSB)
After their harrowing experience with the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples arrived at the other side, only to be greeted by a raging demon-possessed man. This man, after years and years of giving himself over to unrighteousness , was completely ravaged by sin and full of demonic torment and suffering. He spent night after night crying out and cutting himself in an attempt to find some sense of relief. What he couldn’t do on his own, Jesus was able to do in a moment. Who knows how long he had been tormented by the demonic, but after a moment with Jesus, he was clean, clothed, and in his right mind. Demons who couldn’t even be brought under submission by chains were compelled to submit themselves to the overwhelming authority of Jesus. While Jesus may be humble and meek, He is also all-powerful and holy. Even demons are subject to His name. He can set tormented souls at peace in a moment. He can wipe away the ravages of sin in a moment, if we just bow down to Him.
Psalms: “Lord, do not punish me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has pressed down on me. There is no soundness in my body because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear… Lord, my every desire is in front of you; my sighing is not hidden from you… For I put my hope in you, Lord; you will answer me, my Lord, my God… For I am about to fall, and my pain is constantly with me. So I confess my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin.” (Psalms 38:1-4, 9, 15, 17-18 CSB)
In this Psalm, King David is very honest about the affects of unconfessed sin. David knew what it was to walk in relationship with the Lord, and sin had been allowed to stand between him and the Lord that he loved. So many live with the bondage of sin and have no idea what it is to be free. Nevertheless, whether you recognize it or not, sin demands a heavy toll. David knows what he must do to be free. He must acknowledge his sin and confess his iniquity – and the God who is rich in mercy and abounding in love will forgive him, cleanse him, and put him in his right mind.