The parsha this week covers Exodus 9-11 and 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17. Both passages concern themselves with proper obedience and consecration of people and things as they pertain to proper worship of God. In Exodus 10, the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu bring strange/alien/improper fire before The Lord. Their actions look from the outside like proper worship of God, but they are bringing offerings in a manner that seems fit to them, it is not what God has directed or chosen. Their punishment might seem severe: they are immediately struck dead, and we might be horrified. But, we must understand that as leaders they must be held to a higher standard and the offense of not sanctifying God before the people is serious.
This story is paired with the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel who reaches out to steady the ark of the covenant as it is traveling. He touches the ark with his bare hands and he is immediately struck down. Here King David reacts in fear of the Ark, but the problem is not the Ark, it is that the Ark was not being treated properly and so was in need of steadying.
Also in 2 Samuel is David’s desire to build a permanent home for God’s presence. This is not a wrong desire and David’s instincts like Uzzah’s are good and right, but proper worship of God is in accordance with his wishes, timing, and command…not our own. Right worship of God is obedient to him and is for his glory.
In the Leviticus portion, the story about Aaron’s sons is paired with dietary restrictions regarding animals that may or may not be eaten and other specifications. Over and over, the text tells us that God is giving these guidelines and restrictions because he is holy and as his people, we are to acknowledge him as holy and pursue holiness. We are people made in God’s image and in worshiping him we should be seeking to allow him to transform us more and more into that image. This happens on his terms. We honor God not by doing what the world says makes us better or more successful people, but by seeking him and doing what he says.
This reminds me of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. Yeshua (Jesus) takes Peter, James, and John with him to a high mountain and they are able to see a picture of his glory and they also see Moses and Elijah. Peter’s reaction to this scene is to offer to build tabernacles for Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah so that they could be worshiped. Again, good instincts, but wrong execution. Yeshua alone is worthy of worship. That is why the voice of God from Heaven silences Peter and says in verse 5, “this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” As people who know and follow Yeshua, we must listen to him and do what he says. This charge is for us too. Let’s look for opportunities to serve, honor, and worship God with our quickness to hear his voice and respond to him this week.
Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,