How close is too close?

I recently wrote about how I was enjoying reading the book of Leviticus.  Hard to believe, but it’s true.

As I read the first 9 chapters all I could do was wonder why God would impose such crazy rituals for the priests when it came to offering sacrifices.  I mean not only did they have to kill animals in a particular way, but they had to sprinkle the blood against all four sides of the altar and then arrange certain parts of the animal to be burned while other parts were washed.  Different types of sacrifices called for different rituals.  It seems crazy.

It’s hard to make sense of it all.  God gave very, very specific instructions in exactly how to offer these sacrifices.  It’s almost as if how they offered them was just as important as offering them in the first place.  But then as I read the first 3 verses of chapter 10, God spoke something to me.

In the first few verses of chapter 10 we find out that two of Aaron’s son were killed by God because they offered incense to God in the wrong way.  I find it amazing that because they didn’t do it right, they were killed.  It doesn’t say that they were doing evil, but just not doing it right.  Of course, maybe it was the heart behind how they offered it, but we aren’t given that information.

Then it reads something profound in Leviticus 10:3

Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will show myself holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’ ”

As I read this I realized there was a difference between approaching God and experiencing God from a distance.  When we gather corporately to worship God, we can sense his presence and experience God from a distance.  This is what the people of Israel experienced.  When God called Moses up to the top of a mountain to be with him, God instructed him to set boundaries around the mountain so that none of the people would dare approach or else!

Read what God said to Moses in Exodus 19:10-12
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.

Then in the “sight of all the people” God descended on the mountain top in a dense cloud. God was honored among all the people when they saw His presence with Moses.  But there is a big difference between experiencing God from a distance and God show himself holy to us directly.  For those who really want to approach God, or to draw close to him, we must realize that we will experience a different side of God.  We experience the holy side of God.  It’s this aspect of God which is amazing and yet also terrifying.  It might cause us to respond the way Aaron responded when Moses said this to him.

“Aaron remained silent.”

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