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Leviticus 11: A Caveat to the Called? July 22, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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I have a lot of questions after my reading in Leviticus this weekend. I read the first 11 chapters of Leviticus. I have heard and read before about the death of Nadab and Abihu, but in my crisis of faith moment I am reading with quite a different perspective. Hence the questions, be they presumptuous or not. If they are presumptuous, I ask them at the very peril of my life, apparently. So, I pray for advance forgiveness before writing this out. If I’m not forgiven and grace isn’t offered, there will be no future posts on this blog. Or if WordPress crashes and doesn’t allow me to add posts. You won’t know, so my advise to you is to err on the conservative side before venturing into any kind of blasphemies yourselves.

Firstly, as Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu were in line to inherit the priesthood, if they weren’t serving already. Didn’t they know Aaron’s routines and how to do the fire and incense correctly? As a seminary graduate, this intrigues me and also scares me half to death. He judges justly, so what did they do wrong? Did they miss some required purification ritual? Did they forget and get the fire for the incense from someplace other than where they were supposed to get it? “Ash Zre,” transliterated “Fire Alien,” and then you reverse it because it’s Hebrew. So we get that somehow Nadab and Abihu offered alien fire before God, and it cost them their lives instantly, as if they were supposed to know better. Some commentaries I read suggested that because Aaron had been commanded by God through Moses to offer the sacrifices, it was Aaron alone who was authorized to do that, and not Nadab and Abihu. However, in the cases of Nadab and Abihu, the judgement of God was immediate. In the case of King Saul, for doing basically the same thing, he didn’t die instantly. Samuel did prophecy that he would die, and die he did, and that as a consequence for his actions his kingdom would be removed from him and from his family line. See I Samuel 13. However, I Samuel 13:1 says he started reigning at 30 years old, and reigned 42 years. The math says he died at 72 in battle. Historical Critical method argues his age, of course, looking for any possible discrepancy. There are answers, including having a son born in the year he took the throne, and the facts of him ruling through the terms of three high priests, making the arguments immaterial or spurious. But his sins, starting with offering the sacrifice presumptuously in place of Samuel and culminating with consulting a witch after Samuel was dead, did cost him the throne.

Nadab and Abihu make me ask myself: Do I really want a pastorate? What if I mess up something important? What if I’ve already messed up? But I do feel a sense of calling. From the Exodus passage from the last time our assistant pastor started to preach, about the modern church finding itself in an unseen Egyptian slavery, to another passage in Micah 7 about shepherding my own flock. Every time I read them I look for a pastorate and think about sending my resume out. I have sent it once recently, only to be sent a nice letter saying they are not considering hiring me. After all, I don’t have the kind of experience or credentials they are looking for. So why do I have a sense of a calling without an opportunity? I don’t have an answer for that question. So I wait.

The other questions, and here’s where I start treading delicately, start with, why did God judge Nadab and Abihu so harshly and yet allow the high priest and religious leaders in Jesus’ day to authorize the crucifixion without so much as a stomach virus? And they end with, if you’re going to kill Nadab and Abihu for the alien fire, why not deal with the current Catholic priests who have abused altar boys and committed who knows what other sinful acts under the cover of priestly robes, in a similar way?

Facetiously I’d say, if He did judge with that kind of swift action, firstly, there might be a job opening for those seeking pastorates a little quicker than the years I have bothered trying to find one, but then, I’d think twice about my own sins before I applied.

And with that, I’ll just ask you to say a prayer for me, of any kind. And I’ll say one for the readers as well.