Showing the Lord Respect
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: “‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” Aaron remained silent. – Leviticus 10:1-3
Reverence: n. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe, veneration; the outward manifestation of deep respect, a gesture indicative of deep respect; a respectful, submissive attitude.
I love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my spirit. But do I respect Him? Do I revere Him? I do now, but I didn’t always. I am saddened to say that I loved God long before I recognized that I did not respect and revere Him. Please do not misunderstand me; I respected God according to the world’s standards. But was I respecting and revering Him according to His standard? No, not always. There were times I was cavalier in my approach to God and His throne; times I fell asleep during prayers; approached Him more as my friend than as my Father; or I have used His name in vain and in an ungodly context. The list goes on. So, as you can tell, I have not always respected nor held God in reverence. Have you? Do you?
The other day I was with friends and someone used the name of the Lord in a context that I found lacked reverence and was blasphemous. Although they were joking, it made me feel uncomfortable. Not too long ago, I would have laughed at the joke, but there was something that made me pause. When did it become ok to joke about Jesus Christ and use His name flippantly? Yet more importantly when did it become so important to me to hold His name in reverence? I don’t know when the change happened in me, but it has. Once I would have laughed…not now.
One of the most terrifying, realest, and humbling passages of scripture to me is the story of the two brothers – sons of the Aaron, the High Priest – Nadab and Abihu, who approached the alter of God with an unauthorized fire and were smote (literally smoked) by God. To me and my standards it seemed like such a harsh punishment. But when read in the context of history and Exodus, the brothers not only blatantly were approaching the alter of God in a disrespectful manner (they had been instructed in the proper way to approach worship and sacrifice); they were flippant about the disrespect before others. They expected to get by with their actions. But they did not. By today’s measures this would not even be considered disrespectful in most households throughout America, but by the standard of the Lord their lack of reverence for His instructions about sacrifice resulted in death. Yet how many of us approach the throne of God in a flippant way? How many of us use His name in a way that is not glorifying or honorable to Him? How many enter into His sanctuary with an appearance or attitude that is unbecoming of worship?
How we approach God matters. God is unchanging and the requirement for His reverence remains the same even in these changing times. We should revere and respect the Lord not only in our words, but our deeds as well. He, more than anyone, is deserving.