Monday, August 20, 2018

Reading Existentially

"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.’ ” Aaron remained silent (Leviticus 10:3).

As a methodology, subjectivism is dangerous. At the same time, however. Christians should read the Bible as people who are personally and passionately involved with what we are reading. We should read the Bible as if it were personally addressed to us.

The characters in the Bible are not fictional. They are real people who lived life with all its difficulties. The Bible is not simply communicating information to us but is presenting us with the fullness of life. The full range of human emotions is present.

One of the best illustrations of this occurs in Leviticus 10, where we have the record of the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. We read that “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” (vv. 1–2).

There is not a word in this passage about Aaron’s reaction except what is implied. What do you think it was like for Aaron? Are we to assume that he was unmoved? Obviously not. I imagine Aaron was overcome with grief, and that he screamed to Moses, “Moses! What kind of a God would do this? I’ve served Him day and night. I’ve prepared my boys for the priesthood, and one little tiny transgression and He destroys them. Why, Moses? Why?”

Moses replied to his dear brother, “Aaron, don’t you remember that God made it clear that He would be treated as holy by those who approach Him? Don’t you see, Aaron, God will not tolerate sacrilege at the altar, even if it comes from the hands of your sons? God cannot tolerate it.” And Aaron bowed his head and was silent.

Can we feel the anguish and see the trial of Aaron’s faith as he keeps silent through his tears? If we can, we are able to make the Bible real to us.

Read Genesis 22. What were these men feeling? Do you begin to get a better understanding of what God was doing with them, and of what God is doing in your own life? Put yourself in the shoes of Abraham and then Isaac.