“Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.
“Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.”
~Leviticus 9:23-24 (NIV).
These are possibly the most important verses in this entire book. They certainly provide a perfect end to the ninth chapter. The people of Israel—the entire house—were utterly gob-smacked at the show of power from the Presence of the Lord.
What is worship if not cognisance of the Presence of God?
Sure, it’s our offering of instinctive praise and thankfulness—a response of enthralled awe; but this can only occur in the truest sense as we feel our way to God’s inimitable Presence.
Leviticus is about worshipping a holy God and living a holy life. And yet, living a holy life is worship. It is the fear of the Lord—his Presence indwelt within our minds and hearts to such an extent we live in a constant humbled awe.
This sense of worship draws us to a fervent discipleship. It resonates with our fellowship as we begin to place others before ourselves; and hence the same motives work out for our ministry and evangelism. All five purposes are wrapped up fundamentally in worship.
What is quite unusual about the above passage is that Aaron and Moses blessed the people of Israel again. Using the Priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) not once, but twice, they themselves had been blessed in the Tent. Their partaking of the Presence of the Lord—upon the ordination of Aaron—saw the highest goal of worship achieved. They were richly blessed in their experience of God, in their actual midst.
And “Who” do we worship? Do we know the power of this God? In the beginning of chapter ten Aaron’s very sons are consumed by the “unauthorized fire” they offered before the Lord. Understandably, Aaron is silent (10:3).
God is not simply our brother and best friend. The God we worship is wholly powerful and simply to be awed. The calamitous power of the tsunami wave, the hurricane, the firestorm—these are all of God. The God who loves us with an irrefutable love also sweeps life away—for we are his, spiritually. And, in this, we are not to be afraid. He will keep us if we’ll only accept him—the spiritual transaction beyond the bounds of body and mind that hems us in with fear.
Do we revere him nearly enough?
How can his Presence in our lives then not be earth-shakingly powerful?—enough to turn our lives around—enough to shake us awake from our spiritual slumber.
Let us never underestimate the power and will of God. And let us also never be guilty of not truly worshipping him when he has made his Presence known.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.