Wednesday, March 26, 2014
God's Manifest Presence
This was not written by me, but was a devotional I came across this past week from a ministry in Israel. The devotional was written with the weekly Torah portion in mind, from Leviticus 9.
Manifestation of God’s Presence: Aaron Begins His Ministry
“This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.” (Leviticus 9:6)
On the eighth day, the day following an entire week of purification, Aaron and his sons began their ministry by offering the required sin offering, burnt offering and fellowship offering.
After Aaron had done all that the Lord had commanded through Moses, he stretched out his hands and blessed the people before stepping down from the altar.
But the people were not only blessed once. Moses and Aaron blessed them again after they returned from the Tent of Meeting. At this, the fire of God came upon the offerings and consumed them.
“Then Moses and Aaron entered the Tent of Meeting, and when they came out, they once again blessed the people. Then fire issued from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offerings and the fat portions on the altar.” (Leviticus 9:23–24)
With this remarkable manifestation of the Glory of God, the people felt such an awesome experience of being in the presence of the Lord that they shouted for joy and even fell down on their faces!
Sadly, this incredible time of worship was followed by sorrow because of a tragic incident in which fire from the presence of God also came in judgment.
The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, who had just a short while earlier been instructed on the Temple service, changed the pattern of worship given to them by God through Moses.
In perhaps a grandiose, irreverent or drunken display of their ministration before the people, they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord (maybe offering incense at the wrong time) and, therefore, they perished:
“So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:2)
After reading about the spectacular event of God's fire consuming the offering and other miraculous, supernatural events in the Bible, some of us long for a dramatic manifestation of the Shekhinah glory of Adonai; however, we must keep in mind that the experience of the Israelites at this time was out of the ordinary.
The fire of God did not consume the offering on a daily basis. The people continued their worship, sacrifices, and offerings even when they did not “feel” anything special and nothing exceptional happened.
Likewise, our spiritual life should not be a pursuit of supernatural, dazzling encounters; neither should we think something is amiss in our relationship with the Lord if we are not continually riding an emotional “high.”
Just as a marriage relationship should not require continual thrills to stay committed, so should our hearts remain steadfast in our relationship with the Lord even when there seems to be no fresh fire.
[This is not to say that the Lord will not give us supernatural manifestations today. He can and He does, according to His sovereign will and purposes]