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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 consecrate (dedicate and ceremonially purify) the priests for service. To do this, Moses gathers all of the Israelites together at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (probably meaning the tabernacle) to witness it. Before their eyes he washes Aaron and his sons, clothes them with linen tunics and puts their priestly garbs on them. This is the uniform that distinguishes them from the rest of the Israelites for holy service to the LORD. Then Moses pours anointing oil over all furnishings of the tabernacle and upon Aaron and his sons, consecrating them for service. Afterwards, Moses offers up sin and burnt offerings for Aaron and his sons as prescribed by God. Then Moses offers up a second ram for the ordination of the priests. From the blood of this animal, Moses smears 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 is put on the right earlobes, thumbs, and right toes as symbols. It is put on the right earlobes so they will remember to give attendance to the Law, the right thumbs of the right hands so they will remember to do what is right with their hands, and the right toes of the right feet so they will remember to walk in paths of righteousness. In other words, the priests are ordained in this manner so they will remember that they are consecrated to live a holy life. This is a symbol of how God consecrates Christians for service. God purifies and dedicates us by the blood of his Son. The Apostle Peter addresses strangers (non-Jewish believers) in the faith when he says,

[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).

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

An Honorable Discharge of Duties. On the eighth day of the ordination Moses shows the priests how to offer all the offerings as prescribed by God. Afterwards, Aaron and his sons assume the duties and God is honored by their obedience. How do we know? The glory of the LORD descends upon the tabernacle and the sacrifice is consumed.

A Dishonorable Discharge. Unfortunately, soon after Aaron and his sons assume the leadership as priests, two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, take censures and offer unauthorized fire before the LORD. Leviticus 10:9 seems to suggest that Nadab and Abihu are drunk and disorderly. In any case, whether drunkenness, carelessness, pride, or a combination of these cause them to disobey the LORD, God strikes them dead for dishonoring his holiness. God says, "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).

Like all the priests, 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). Later we will see that Moses is 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 are then carried out of the camp by their cousins (who are not priests), but Aaron and his other sons are not allowed to touch them or leave the sanctuary and grieve. This may seem unfair to us, but we must remember they represent the holiness of God. They are consecrated (dedicated and ceremonially purified) for their ministry and are 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 fail to offer the sin offering as they should. Moses is at first angry, but after he hears their explanation about their grief, he is pacified.

Lessons to live by:

  • God has purified and dedicated 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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