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military in uniform February 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 8, 9, 10

Honor Versus Dishonor

Military uniforms are worn to distinguish soldiers from civilians. The uniforms are not worn simply to entitle soldiers to fight for their country. They are an emblem that stands for their country, and they represent a system of values established by codes of conduct. The soldier who wears his uniform honorably will behave honorably in consistency with those standards. Those who act in a reprehensible manner are given a dishonorable discharge. In the time of Moses there was a particular day for the putting on of uniforms, the uniforms of a priest. It was a day of consecration, a dedication for service to the LORD.

After the tabernacle (a portable worship center) and all its furnishing had been constructed, priestly garments made, and instructions regarding offerings given, it was time to dedicate (consecrate) the priests for service. To do this, Moses gathered all of the Israelites together at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (probably meaning the tabernacle) to witness it. Before their eyes he washed Aaron and his sons, clothed them with linen tunics and put their priestly garbs on them. This was the uniform that distinguished them from the rest of the Israelites for holy service to the LORD. Then Moses poured anointing oil over all furnishings of the tabernacle and upon Aaron and his sons, consecrating them for service. Afterwards, Moses offered up sin and burnt offerings for Aaron and his sons as prescribed by God. Then Moses offered up a second ram (the first was for dedication, the burnt offering) for the ordination of the priests. From the blood of this animal, Moses smeared a little blood on their right earlobes, right thumbs of their right hands, and right toes of their right feet, consecrating them for service as he did the bronze altar. According to Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible and An Exposition of The Old Testament by John Gill, DD., ©1954, vol. 1, pp. 394-395, the blood was put on the right earlobes, thumbs, and right toes as symbols. It was put on the right earlobes that they might remember to give attendance to the Law, the right thumbs of the right hands that they may do what is right with their hands, and the right toes of the right feet that they might remember to walk in paths of righteousness. In other words, the priests were so ordained that they might remember that they were consecrated to live a holy life. God has also consecrated us by the blood of his Son. The Apostle Peter addressed strangers (gentiles) in the faith. He said of them (and by application to us who believe),

[we] … have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood, (1Peter 1:2a,b, NIV).

… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, (1Peter 2:9, NIV).

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV)

After the official ordination of the priests, a fellowship offering was given for dedication and sharing. The priests shared the thighs of the animals and the grain offering as an ordination meal. Moses was given the breast to eat. The ordination lasted seven days.

An Honorable Discharge of Duties. On the eighth day Moses showed the priests how to offer all the offerings as prescribed by God, and then Aaron and his sons took over the duties. God was honored by their obedience. The glory of the LORD descended upon the tabernacle and he consumed the sacrifice. This showed God was pleased with them.

A Dishonorable Discharge. Unfortunately, soon after Aaron and his sons assumed the leadership as priests, two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, took censures and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD. Leviticus 10:9 may suggest that Nadab and Abihu were drunk and disorderly. In any case, whether drunkenness, carelessness, pride, or a combination of these caused them to disobey the LORD, God struck them dead for dishonoring his holiness. God said,

Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3, NIV).

Nadab and Abihu were leaders and examples of holiness. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,” (Luke 12:48b, NIV). Moses was later also judged harshly for dishonoring God before the Israelites (Numbers 20:7-12; Deuteronomy 32:48-52). Though church leaders may not be killed, this should serve as a warning that God may remove them from their place of service if they dishonor God before their people (Revelation 2:5). And, lest we regular Christians get too complacent, let us remember that by God’s grace we are priests before Him and examples to our world of God's holiness (1Peter 2:9). Every thought or deed we do will be held to account on judgment day (Romans 14:12). Therefore “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him,” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

Nadab and Abihu were carried out of the camp by their cousins (who were not priests), but Aaron and his other sons were not allowed to touch them or leave the sanctuary and grieve. This may seem unfair to us, but we must remember they represented the holiness of God, and they were not finished in their holy service to the LORD. Sometimes this happens with missionaries. They grieve inwardly but sometimes cannot leave the field while they are in the midst of working for God. In their grief, however, Aaron and his remaining sons did not offer the sin offering as they should. Moses was at first angry, but after he heard their explanation about their grief, he was pacified.

Lessons to live by:

  • The priests were so ordained that they might remember that they were consecrated to live a holy life. God has also consecrated us by the blood of his Son. Not only do we have forgiveness and peace with God (more...), but we also have the privilege to please him with our life.
  • God is honored by our obedience to his Word, the Bible.
  • Leaders bear a greater responsibility than others, but by God’s grace we are all priests before Him and examples of holiness to our world.
  • Every thought or deed we do will be held to account on judgment day so we need to live in order to please God.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

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