Friday, March 07, 2008

...the importance and reverence of godly worship

I have been teaching on Leviticus 9:22-10:3 when traveling to
churches and conferences on the theme of biblical worship - the worship-centered life.
It is one of the most powerful portions of God's Word of the holiness of God.

I have not posted any pictures on this article nor will I.
No picture could truly represent the holiness of God
and the reverence of the Lord in worship associated with this text.
I would humbly ask that you just allow the words of God's Word
speak to your heart and mind; and may the powerful exposition by John Gill
impress upon you the weight of God's glory
and the danger of treating Him as anything but holy.

The Lord Jesus Christ is not a dude;
He is not our home-boy; He is not our buddy or pal;
He is not One to be made fun of, treated in a casual manner,
or referred to by vulgar or unwholesome speech.

He is the Lord our righteousness. Did you hear that?
And to treat Him, approach Him, or speak of Him as anything less than that,
is rather to mock Him than worship Him.

As I look at this text and the holiness of God represented,
then look at my own life, I am ashamed, broken and brought low.
Like Isaiah of old, I too cry, "Woe is me!"
Praise the Lord that He is a God of grace, for otherwise,
I would be lost in my sins, have no hope of the promise of salvation,
and under His eternal wrath and judgment forever.
Oh to worship the Lord as holy and in the beauty of holiness;
only by His sovereign grace can we enter in to true worship of our Lord. Amen?

His unworthy servant in His unfailing love,
Psalm 96

Exposition by John Gill (Scripture text in red)
And Aaron lifted up his hand towards the people, and blessed them…
After he had offered the above sacrifices both for himself and them: the manner of the priests lifting up their hands when they blessed is thus described; in the provinces the priests lift up their hands to their shoulders, and in the sanctuary above their heads, excepting the high priest, who did not lift up his hands above the plate of gold: but R. Judah says, the high priest lift up his hands above the plate, as it is said (Leviticus 9:22) the modern Jews describe it thus, they lift up their hands to their shoulders, and they lift up the right hand somewhat higher than the left; then they stretch out their hands, and part their fingers, and frame them so as to make five airs; between two fingers and two fingers one air, and between the forefinger and the thumb, and between the two thumbs; they spread out their hands so, that the middle (or palm) of the hand may be towards the earth, and the back part of it towards heaven: Aaron lift his hands upwards, signifying from whence he implored the blessing, and towards the people on whom he desired it might descend; in this was a type of Christ, who, after he had offered himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people, when he was risen from the dead and about to ascend to heaven, blessed his disciples, (Luke 24:50,51) in Christ the saints are blessed with all spiritual blessings; by him they are procured for them, through his blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction; and he ever lives to make intercession for the application of them to them, see (Ephesians 1:3) (Galatians 3:13,14) (Acts 3:26)

and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings;
from the altar with joy, as the Targum of Jonathan; being glad he had done his service with acceptance; he is said to "come down", there being a rise or ascent to the altar, which, as Aben Ezra observes, was three cubits high, and therefore it is with propriety said he came down; which he did as soon as he had made an end of offering all the sacrifices.

And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation…
They went out of the court where the altar of burnt offering stood, and where Aaron had been offering the sacrifices; and they went into the holy place, where stood the altar of incense, the shewbread table, and the candlestick; and it is probable Moses went in with Aaron thither, to show him how to offer the incense, to order the shewbread on the table, and to light and trim the lamps of the candlestick; and so Jarchi observes, that he went in to teach him concerning the business of the incense; but it may be, it was also to pray for the people, as the Targum, and for the Lord's appearance to them, as was promised and expected, and that fire might descend on the sacrifices as a token of acceptance of them, as Aben Ezra notes:

and came out, and blessed the people;
Aaron had blessed them before, but now both Moses and Aaron blessed them, atonement being made by the sacrifice of Christ, and law and justice thereby fully satisfied; Christ and the law agree together in the blessing of the Lord's people; way was hereby made for the communication of blessings to them, consistent with the law of God, and his holiness and justice, (Galatians 3:10,13,14):

and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people:
some visible signs of his glory, some very great splendour or lustre, or breaking forth of his glory; or Christ, the glory of the Father, appeared in an human form, as a pledge of his future incarnation, when all the above sacrifices, which were types of him, would have their accomplishment; and this being immediately upon the offering of them, may signify that the glory of God greatly appears in the sacrifice and satisfaction of Christ, and in the redemption and salvation of his people in that way, (Psalms 21:4) (85:10) and the glorious and gracious presence of God is enjoyed by his people, in consequence of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, which was signified by the mercy seat, from whence the Lord communed; and it is through Christ, his blood and sacrifice, saints have access to God, and fellowship with him, (Ephesians 2:18) (3:12) (1 John 1:3).

And there came a fire out from before the Lord…
Either from heaven, or from the holy of holies, where was the symbol of the divine Presence, and Jehovah had now took up his residence:

and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering, and the fat;
according to Aben Ezra, the burnt offering of Aaron, and of the people, and of the daily sacrifice, for so it is written, besides the burnt offering of the morning, (Leviticus 9:17) and the fat of the calf and ram of Aaron, and of the goat, ox, and ram of the people, which though they were laid upon the altar at the time of their offering, yet it is thought by some they were not burnt till now: it is a conjecture of Bishop Patrick's, that this burnt offering was the burnt offering of the evening sacrifice, which was consumed by the fire from the Lord; he supposes that the offering of the above sacrifices had taken up the whole day, from the time of the morning sacrifice until the evening; and that all the other sacrifices were burnt with common fire, but this with fire from the Lord; but then, what was the fat that was consumed? however, this was a token of acceptance; in like manner as it descended on the sacrifice of Abel, as is thought, (Genesis 4:4) and on the sacrifices offered at the dedication of the temple, (2 Chronicles 7:1) and on the burnt sacrifice of Elijah, (1 Kings 18:38) testifying the divine approbation and acceptance of them: for though in the mystery, the fire may design the wrath of God as a consuming fire, which was very distressing to Christ, and brought him to the dust of death; yet, with respect to the persons for whom this sacrifice was offered, it denotes acceptance of it, that it was an offering by fire, and of a sweet smelling savour to God, his law and justice being satisfied, and having honour done them: concerning this fire, and the perpetual burning of it, (See Gill on 6:12) (See Gill on 6:13). The Heathens, in imitation of this, have pretended to have fire come down also from heaven on their altars, as the Brahmans, among the Indians, taken notice of in the above note. And so Solinus speaks of the Vulcanian hill in Sicily, where they that serve in sacred things lay wood of vines on the altar, but put no fire; and if God is present (and so the sacrifice is approved) the branches, though green, will take fire of themselves, and a flame is kindled by the deity sacrificed to, no one setting them on fire. And Servius says {i}, that with the ancients fires on altars were not kindled, but they procured a divine fire by their prayers, which kindled on the altars; but these were mere pretences, and juggling tricks, in which they were assisted by Satan to vie with this wonderful appearance of God in the acceptation of the sacrifice of his people:

[which] when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces;
Aaron blessing them, and the appearance of the glory of God unto them, no doubt, gave them joy and pleasure, as the spiritual blessings by Christ, and the gracious presence of God do to his people, (Psalms 103:1-4) (4:6,7) but what filled them with joy unspeakable was the acceptance of their sacrifices, as typical of the sacrifice of Christ, and atonement by it, which made them shout, and the court to ring with it; and yet fell down on their faces with all reverence and humility, under a sense of the divine Majesty being so near unto them, in this sensible token of his presence.

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron…
His two eldest sons, as seems from (Exodus 6:23) :
took either of them his censer;
a vessel in which coals of fire were put, and incense upon them, and burnt it, and so it follows:

and put fire therein, and put incense thereon;
which, as Aben Ezra says, was on the eighth day, that is, of their consecration, the day after their consecration was completely finished, and the same day that Aaron had offered the offerings for himself and for the people, see (Leviticus 9:1):

and offered strange fire before the Lord;
upon the golden altar of incense, which stood in the holy place right against the veil, within which were the ark, mercy seat, and cherubim, the symbol and seat of the divine Majesty: this fire was not that which came down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice, as related at the end of the preceding chapter (Leviticus 9:24) , but common fire, and therefore called strange; it was not taken off of the altar of burnt offering, as it ought to have been, but, as the Targum of Jonathan, from under the trivets, skillets, or pots, such as the flesh of peace offerings were boiled in, in the tabernacle;

which he commanded not;
yea, forbid, by sending fire from heaven, and ordering coals of fire for the incense to be taken off of the altar of burnt offering; and this, as Aben Ezra observes, they did of their own mind, and not by order. It does not appear that they had any command to offer incense at all at present, this belonged to Aaron, and not to them as yet; but without any instruction and direction they rushed into the holy place with their censers, and offered incense, even both of them, when only one priest was to offer at a time, when it was to be offered, and this they also did with strange fire. This may be an emblem of dissembled love, when a man performs religious duties, prays to God, or praises him without any cordial affection to him, or obeys commands not from love, but selfish views; or of an ignorant, false, and misguided zeal, a zeal not according to knowledge, superstitious and hypocritical; or of false and strange doctrines, such as are not of God, nor agree with the voice of Christ, and are foreign to the Scriptures; or of human ordinances, and the inventions of men, and of everything that man brings of his own, in order to obtain eternal life and salvation.

And there went out fire from the Lord…
They sinned by fire, and they were punished by fire, either from heaven, or from the most holy place, where the Lord dwelt between the cherubim; this was of the nature of lightning, as appears by what follows:

and devoured them;
not reduced them to ashes, for neither their bodies nor their clothes were burnt with this fire, as is clear from (Leviticus 10:4,5) but their lives were destroyed, they were lifeless, their souls were separated from their bodies by it, and they died; which is often the case by the lightning, that the clothes of those who are killed with it are untouched, and scarce any marks of violence on their bodies; and so the Targum of Jonathan says of these, their bodies were not burnt:

and they died before the Lord;
upon the spot where they were offering incense, in the holy place, over against the most holy place. This was very awful, like the case of Ananias and Sapphira, and may seem severe: it was for the terror of others in the priesthood, or who should come after, to take care that they performed their office according to the divine precepts, and brought in no innovation into their service. And when it is considered that these were the sons of the high priest, newly invested with an high and honourable office, and just had the laws of the priesthood delivered unto them, and yet deviated from them as soon as in their office, and very probably, from what follows, went drunk into their service, their sin will appear aggravated, and the punishment less severe. This shows there is nothing in carnal descent, these were the sons of Aaron the high priest, that acted this part, and came to this end; the proneness of men to transgress the laws of God as soon as given them; thus the people of Israel fell into idolatry as soon as the moral law was given; and here the priests, as soon as the ceremonial laws, relating to the priesthood, were delivered to them; and also that the law made sinful men priests, and that the Levitical priesthood was imperfect; and that no order of men are free from sin, or exempt from punishment: and the whole of the divine conduct in this affair may lead us to observe how jealous God is in matters of worship; how much he dislikes hypocrites, and formal professors; how severe he will be against such who bring in strange doctrines; what will be the fate of the contemners of Gospel doctrines and ordinances; and how much he resents those who trust in themselves, and their works, and bring in anything of their own in the business of salvation, which is strange fire, sparks of their own kindling, a burning incense to their own drag, and sacrificing to their own net.

And Moses said unto Aaron…
Upon this awful occasion, and in order to quiet and humble him under the mighty hand of God:

this [is it] that the Lord spoke, saying;
but when he spoke it, and where it is said and recorded, is not so very clear; it might have been said, and yet not recorded, or the substance of it may be recorded, though not in the express words here delivered; it may refer, as some think, to (Exodus 19:22) or else to (Exodus 29:43) which seems to come nearest to what follows, so Jarchi:

I will be sanctified [treated as holy] in them that come [near] me;
in the priests that drew nigh to him, and offered sacrifice and burnt incense to him; by these he expected to be sanctified, not to be made holy, but to be declared to be so, and obeyed and worshipped as such; as he is, when his commands and ordinances are observed, as he would have them be, in faith and fear, which were not done by these sons of Aaron; and therefore the Lord, by the punishment he inflicted, showed himself to be an holy, righteous, and jealous God:

and before all the people, I will be glorified;
as he is when he is believed and trusted in; when his worship is carried on in his own house, according to his will; when his ordinances are kept as they were delivered, and when he is reverenced in the assembly of his saints; all which were wanting in this case. And this may also have respect to the glory of divine justice, in the public punishment of the sin of those men, that since he was not glorified by them before the people in the way of their duty, he would glorify himself in their punishment:

and Aaron held his peace:
was in a stupor, as the Septuagint, quite amazed, thunderstruck, as we say; he was silent, said not one word against what was done; murmured not at the providence, nor complained of any severity, but was patient under the hand of God, and resigned to his will; and since God was sanctified and glorified, he was contented.


greuber said...

Hi, very new (just set up blog acct to post here).I came by here as a fan of Steve's music and because of a Larry Norman message board link so I hope I'm not "out of protocol" in my post/blog (?)
Reading today's blog just reminded me of something that has really been on me lately and that is a proper fear of the Lord. I think it goes well in conjunction with "the importance and reverence of Godly worship.
I wrote down these lyric (more like compiled David's psalm's for my own expression)

I want to be righteous
want my hands to be clean
I wanna stand before you
and have you find no sin in me

I wont keep it quiet
From my lips I'll proclaim
To all assemblies of this world
Your mighty name


You are a strong tower
I will run to you
My God is a Rock
My God is a Fortress
My God is the Truth

(pre chorus)

And on the Cherubims
Mighty wings
Your Glory is lifted high
And with the Seraphim
I wil sing


I sing Holy
Holy are you Lord
God Almighty
Forever and Ever

Verse 2

I want to be Holy
I want to walk where your found
I want to take off these shoes
Because where I'm standing
Is Holy ground

Oh God You are Mighty
Your like the raging sea
How beautiful and terrible
You are to me


( pre chorus)

( chorus)

Detoured By Travel said...

Welcome Greuber!

Steve...good stuff. Love the title, as opposed to "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God," that classic Jonathan Edwards sermon.

We (Pastors and laymen) must be Holy as He is Holy. We certainly cannot be Holy without treating Him as Holy. He expects and demands and deserves NOTHING LESS. God forgive us when we do not give Him the reverence He is so worthy of.

greuber said...

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

This additude/expression in prayer goes a long way to keeping God authority and our humbleness in perspective

SJ Camp said...

Detoured and Greuber
Great thoughts here brothers!

The charge for any pastor is weighty and holy: to preach the Word and do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:1-5); prayer (Acts 6:4; Heb. 13:17); equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-16); disciple other believers (Col. 1:28f); train other men in ministry (2 Tim. 2:1-2); discipline sin when necessary (Gal. 6:1-3; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Tim. 5:17-21); and be an example of the Lord to those placed under his care as a faithful servant of Christ (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 1 Tim. 4:12-16; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

May the Lord grant us such men of God in our day to carry on the work of the ministry.

2 Cor. 4:5-7

greuber said...

do you beleive a pastor should be all that or annointed to a particular strenght/gift.
As beleivers we are all called to these thing, no ?

greuber said...

p.s Steve, that song is copyrighted so dont go havin a number 1 hit without lettin me know

SJ Camp said...

I just finished mastering the single; I was going to release this weekend... Talk about taking the fun out of a day :-).


In all seriousness, very good lyric. Would like to hear the music one day.

As to your question:
Lev. 9:22-10:3 is talking about spiritual leaders. They don't have a greater standard to live by than the church laity; but they do have a greater accountability to that standard--that's the difference.

I just saw a comment from on a thread that is addressing a controversial pastor from the Seattle area (sorry, tired of mentioning his name). In light of this article and the leviticus text, here is this persons insightful and profound words:

CJ writes:
This man is a pastor...

The response regarding other pastors voicing concerns, "because they're looking at porn", is typically crude and evasive. He consistently chooses to ignore legitimate questions that folks are raising about him. This is a common move from Driscoll - projecting on to others rather than dealing with people's concerns biblically. We must remember that this man is a pastor. There are very specific instructions given for pastors in 2Timothy 4:1-5. This is how and where we judge the man in his office.

Mark is not only failing to guard the trust of pastoral leadership in guarding the truth from the pulpit, he is also failing to guard his wife.

When Driscoll gives his personal expository sex talks from the Song of Solomon, why doesn't Mark protect his wife in these rants of his? Why publicly portray even indirectly in crude ways references to his private intimate times with his own spouse? He is planting graphic pictures of their intimate relationship into the minds of his congregation and opening the door for all sorts of mischief.

This is not the conduct of a man of God.

May all pastors guard the trust and guard the truth as they shepherd God's people as servants of Christ.

In His grace,
2 Tim. 2:22

greuber said...

Steve (
but they do have a greater accountability to that standard--that's the difference)

That makes the most sense, we (beleivers in Chist) are called to these things but the accountability is the defining line. Holding our spiritual leaders in (constant!) prayer is an often overlooked responsibility and the way God teaches us in our own lives for doing this, I have found, invaluable....Praise You Lord for Your teaching, wisdom and work in my life !!!

I find this place encouraging Steve!

--never heard of this Driscoll guy but he must be big in the states ?--

calvinistbychoice said...


I just returned from the Shepherds Conference. It was incredible as always. Rick Holland preached a powerful message on this very passage in Leviticus. It is worth listening to- may we never become flippant or familiar with our holy God and His clear holy instructions. Thanks Steve!

D. Mackie

Arthur Sido said...

Steve, great post. We ignore the sons of Aaron at our own peril. God is not mocked, and the loss of respect for His holiness cripples our worship.

I look forward to seeing you next weekend in Toledo.

SJ Camp said...

I heard Rick teach this on the live streaming feature that Grace provided this year.

it was tremendous! I look forward to getting the MP3 of this message for future listening and study as well.

Did you hear John's opening message? I only heard the first ten minutes but others called me from the conference and said it was very powerful.

Thank you for your words of encouragement today.


SJ Camp said...

Thank you my brother for sharing your thoughts here--excellent.

I will look forward to seeing you as well in Toledo.

I was very encouraged by your words--thank you. Amid all the controversial topics I address here, it is good to know that you find this an encouraging place as well.

Grace and peace to you both,
Col. !:9-14

calvinistbychoice said...


MacArthur was on fire all week. Incredible messages all week. All the general sessions are well worth a listen. MacArthur's final message on the Lordship of Christ was powerful. Steve Lawson's message on Hebrews 4 was electric. I would encourage eeveryone to listen to genral sessions- well worth it.

D. Mackie

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