Much Given, Much Expected

Scripture Focus: Leviticus 10.1, 19-20
1 …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.

Reflection: Much Given, Much Expected
By John Tillman

The deaths of Nadab and Abihu are twisted by some to condemn actions they want to condemn. 

For example, some use it to critique any innovation or change in modern liturgies or worship, some point to 10.9 to try to make this a passage supporting teetotalism, etc. But this passage is not here for us to use to condemn our pet peeves or support our moral preferences.

In scripture, the simplest answer is usually the best, and the simplest explanation of what happened to them is not some secret hinted-at sin, but simply willful disobedience by those who should know better.

They go before the Lord, together, when only one is supposed to enter. They go before the Lord in place of Aaron, their father. In place of fire from the altar, they use fire from another source. Scripture emphasizes this “strange” or “unauthorized” fire as the main reason for their deaths. They do all this knowingly and willfully.

They had just been through (and we have just read) an extraordinarily long and complex ritual training which included warnings that this exact thing could happen. (Exodus 19.22)  Nevertheless, they ignored all they had just learned, and did things in an unauthorized way.

All sin falls under the same spiritual punishment, but not all sins bring the same severity of consequences in our earthly lives. Willful, purposeful sin is treated differently in scripture than just “being sinful” or committing “unknowing” sins. Anytime we know what is right and then, knowingly, purposefully do something else, we are exponentially multiplying our commitment to sin and our rebellion against God.

The severity of the penalty Abihu and Nadab suffer is related to the level of knowledge and revelation they had and the level of position and responsibility they were given. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9.41) To whom much is given, much is expected. (Luke 12.47-48) 

If Abihu and Nadab were given much, how much more have we been given?
We serve a greater High Priest, who offered greater sacrifice, for a greater temple, so we bear a greater responsibility.

We, as priests under Jesus Christ, have been given more than they. 
May we knowingly obey rather than knowingly rebel.
May we minister in ways that honor all that we have been given in Jesus. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Blessed is the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my prayer. — Psalm 28.7

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 10 (Listen – 3:25)
Psalms 11-12 (Listen – 1:59)

Read more about Much Demanded
God judges those with little lightly and those with much heavily. This should be sobering to us who are greatly privileged.

Read more about Unprecedented
They have taken for granted the immense privilege and wealth they have as people chosen by God.

The Righteous Judge :: A Guided Prayer

Psalm 9.7-8
The Lord reigns forever;
   he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
   and judges the peoples with equity.

From John:
Some scholars believe that Psalm nine and ten were originally one Psalm. Today we combine them in a prayer to God, the only righteous judge and the only one who dispenses justice without failing. May he hear the cries of all victims. May he bring every wrong-doing to light. May those who seek to cover their secrets have their plans exposed by his light and truth.

Reflection: The Righteous Judge :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

May our highest, most prized right, be to stand before you.

For you have upheld my right and my cause,
   sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.

May we learn from you, true judgement.
Make us a part of bringing your kingdom, your justice and righteousness on earth.
And this is your justice on earth—to be a refuge and stronghold for the weak and troubled.

He rules the world in righteousness
   and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble…
   he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
   the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
But God will never forget the needy;
   the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;
   let the nations be judged in your presence.

The world hates us, because it first hated you, Lord.
Trouble comes to us in different ways and in different levels of severity, in every corner of this world, God.

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
   Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
   who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
   He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
His mouth is full of lies and threats;
   trouble and evil are under his tongue.

In times of trouble, Lord, we look to you.
Do not abandon us to the schemes of the wicked.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
   you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
   you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
   call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
   that would not otherwise be found out.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
   you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
   so that mere earthly mortals
   will never again strike terror.

We commit ourselves to you, O Lord.
See our trouble. Hear our cry. Take our grief.
Give us courage to shake the world with your love.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken. — Psalm 62.6-14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 8 (Listen – 5:06) 
Psalm 9 (Listen – 2:21)

This Weekend’s Readings
Leviticus 9 (Listen – 3:18) Psalm 10 (Listen – 2:13)
Leviticus 10 (Listen – 3:25) Psalm 11-12 (Listen – 1:59)

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Read more about The Commission of Truth
We are acting according to our nature and our calling when we help facts come to light and when we stand up for truth and for truth-tellers.

Read more about Honoring The Truth
Seeking the truth is not only a spiritual quest. It is sometimes a civic one. Or a legal one. As followers of Christ, the Truth, we should ask, seek, and knock, not giving up until the truth is revealed.