BIBLE STUDY SERIES #251, 252 and 253

8 September, 1996

PRIESTLY TRANSGRESSION

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been following a sequence of Bible Studies which, beginning with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12, has led us down the generations and through the Book of Exodus, and now the first part of Leviticus, to the foot of Mount Sinai where Moses is performing the dedication and induction of the Priesthood in accordance with the instructions of Yahweh, (Jehovah), The Mighty God. Last week, with the reading of Leviticus 9, we were observing the carrying forward of God's instructions in this regard, having particularly in view Aaron's first official performance of the sacrificial ritual under Moses' instructions from The LORD. I shall review the last few verses of Leviticus 9 to "set the stage" for today's study.

23. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.
24. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

In regard to the movement of Moses and Aaron into the Tabernacle, The New Bible Commentary says: "After all the sacrifices had been offered Aaron blessed the people (22). He did this while still standing by the altar. The blessing was probably the formula of blessing given in Nu. vi. 22f. Then Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. The reason for this is not stated. But it is proper to infer that at this time Moses placed Aaron in charge of the holy place, the candlestick, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense, and instructed him as to his duties, all of which Moses had performed from the day of setting up the tabernacle (Ex. xl). Then they came forth and both blessed the people. And the glory of the Lord was manifested as on the day of the setting up of the tabernacle (23). The fire which burned up the sacrifices was the sacred fire which was not to be allowed to go out. The word 'shouted' (24) implies joy and rejoicing. But the joy was mingled with awe, for they fell on their faces in worship before the Lord."

This fire, which came out from before the LORD was a holy fire, and by it, the LORD thus indicated His acceptance of the sacrifice. The sudden appearance of that fire ought also to have shown the priesthood as well as the people that there was present in their midst a vast potential to consume anything, and anybody who transgressed the bounds set by Yahweh (Jehovah). As the writer of Hebrews 12:29 says, "For our God is a consuming fire"

1. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
2. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
3. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

With regard to those verses, The Companion Bible has some useful comments. Of this "strange fire" it explains "i.e. fire other than that Jehovah had commanded, required, and given from heaven... . It was of their own kindling; so is all that is offered to God in worship today. If so, according to John 4. 23, 24, it is 'strange fire', and deserves the same judgment! All worship that is not kindled by the Holy Spirit is 'strange', and is of the flesh... . It 'profiteth nothing', and 'God has no respect to it'... . The incense of prayer and worship on the golden altar in the holy place was kindled by fire taken from the brazen altar in the outer court, on which atonement was made...: only those, therefore, whose sin is atoned for can worship." After we read the remaining verses of our study passage, Leviticus 10:4-20, I shall quote some instructive comments in The New Bible Commentary.

4. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.
5. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.
6. And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.
7. And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.
8. And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,
9. Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
10. And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
11. And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
12. And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons that were left, Take the meat offering that remaineth of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar: for it is most holy:
13. And ye shall eat it in the holy place, because it is thy due, and thy sons' due, of the sacrifices of the LORD made by fire: for so I am commanded.
14. And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons' due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.
15. The heave shoulder and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons' with thee, by a statute for ever; as the LORD hath commanded.
16. And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying,
17. Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?
18. Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded.
19. And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things have befallen me: and if I had eaten the sin offering to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD?
20. And when Moses heard that, he was content.

Under the heading "Sacrilege and its consequences (x. 1-20)" The New Bible Commentary says: "In this historical section the account of the consecration of Aaron and his four sons is followed at once by the record of the sacrilege which led to the tragic death of the two oldest who had beheld the glory of the Lord in the Mount (Ex. xxiv. 1). That this event followed immediately and is to be regarded as the sequel of the ceremony of consecration is indicated by the reference to the goat of the sin offering (16). This must be the offering referred to already in ix 3, 15. Its blood had not been carried into the holy place as was done with Aaron's own sin offering (18). It was the sin offering for the people and the flesh was the priest's portion. Consequently its flesh should have been eaten by the priests in the holy place (17). The reason given is very significant: God hath given it you to bear (RV mg. 'take away') the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord (17). ... The function of the priests was one of mediation. This seems to mean that the priests by eating the sin offering exhibited God's gracious acceptance of the sacrifice just as, by permitting the offerer to partake of his peace offering, He indicated His acceptance of both gift and giver. Instead it had been burned (whether upon the altar or without the camp is not stated). This may mean either that the surviving sons of Aaron could not eat of their portion under such terrible circumstances, or that they did not dare to do so because they felt themselves to be involved in, or contaminated by, the sin of their brethren, since all four were priests. They had therefore burned the carcase of the goat which was the people's oblation, even as they had been required to burn the flesh of their own sin offering, outside the camp (ix. 11). That they erred in this is made clear by verse 17f. Verse 20 indicates that whether Aaron's scruples were primarily those of a father or those of a priest, the reason or excuse which He gave for the conduct of his surviving sons, and which apparently reflected his own attitude was regarded by Moses as satisfactory. Mercy joined with judgment! The exact sin of Nadab and Abihu is not fully explained. Note the words, 'And Nadab and Abihu...took' (1). Nothing has been said in viii - ix about the offering of incense. They are represented as acting entirely on their own initiative and not at the command of Moses. 'Offered strange fire' ...; apparently fire not taken from the brasen altar. Both of them did it. The offering of incense on the golden altar was the duty of the High Priest... or of one of the priests... . For them to take precedence over their father in the first performance of this solemn function was an act of presumption. For the two of them to undertake it at the same time suggests rivalry and jealousy. Their act may also have been presumptuous because the time for offering incense (morning or evening) had not arrived. These and still other elements may have entered into this act of sacrilege. The occasion was so solemn and the ritual had been performed with such care, everything being done 'as the Lord commanded Moses', that such impulsive and arbitrary departure from it as Nadab and Abihu were guilty of must have been highly presumptuous and sacrilegious. Significant in this connection is the special revelation and prohibition which is made directly to Aaron (8-11) and not through Moses. It is at least possible, though by no means certain, that we are to infer from the introduction at this point of this law prohibiting the use of wine or strong drink by the ministering priest... that Nadab and Abihu acted as they did because they were under the influence of liquor. Whatever the explanation, the incident is a solemn warning against every sin of presumption, self-assertion and levity."

As our time has expired, may I give you this meditation? Sinful presumption leads to disaster. While many years may intervene during which time nothing of God's power appears to be manifested, He is ever capable of repeating that demonstration, and high office carries corresponding obligations.

15 September, 1996

THE FOOD WE EAT - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which we began several years ago back in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram, we have been examining in a steady sequence of scriptural passages the Words of The Almighty God which those Scriptures record. Moses was directed to write these passages, which we can now find translated into our own tongues, in the multitudinous volumes which Bible Societies have prepared in the last century or so, to teach the whole world of God's word. These passages form not only a continuing record of God's promises and agreements with His people Israel, at that ancient time of The Exodus, but also act as a statement of His Perfect Will for His people which is to apply for all time. We can see this in Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33 which all record the words of Jesus Christ Who stated "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall not pass away."

This record sets down the accord with Israel, a nation which was described in Deuteronomy 14:2 in the words "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." The agreement was also to be with their descendants for all time, and not only to those tribesmen of ancient Israel so very long ago when Moses was first told to speak and to record these passages. Thus, they now apply, in our own day. Particularly, we believe, these passages hold importance to those who today are described as the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples for, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation maintain, they, in particular, are modern-day literal descendants of these same ancient Israelites, and hence the modern inheritors of those wonderful promises and directions which were to be laid upon Israel and their descendants for all generations down through history.

In Exodus 19:5, the same tribes are told by God that, if obedient, they would be "a peculiar treasure" unto Him, and the use of that word, "treasure" reminds me of the parable of the kingdom recounted by Jesus in Matthew 13:44 in the words "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." The man in the parable is Jesus, Who gave His "all" to redeem the kingdom nation of His people, which nation is His "treasure", hid in the world among the other nations, and in so doing, He also opened the pathway to the relationship called "Salvation" to the whole surrounding field, which represents the world in general.

When we cultivate a crop in a field, we generally see to it that the proper fertiliser is available, that no toxic chemicals are placed upon the plants, and that all the conditions are present for the bringing forth of a bountiful harvest of fruit of whatever we have planned to cultivate, be it grain, or any other cultivated planting.

If we do this when we cultivate a crop, can we be surprised if we find that The Almighty God, The Creator of all things, does the same thing in preparing to bring forth a people whom He is cultivating for the purpose of bringing in a harvest of fruit in every way? Will He not both in physical affairs as well as in Spiritual, provide instruction concerning the healthy ingredients to be placed in His field, to be the means of feeding His people, body and soul, and instruct regarding the unhealthy ingredients which are to be excluded from participating in the formation of the bodies and minds of those who are chosen to be of special, that is to say, "peculiar", service to Himself?

Indeed, The Almighty has made such instruction perfectly clear, and it has been left for misguided pastors and teachers of our own time to muddle everything up by advising that we, being, as they state, "no longer under law", don't need to regard God's words of instruction regarding the procedures which are designed to bring health to ourselves. In that connection, I shall later have specific reference to the matter of the vision of the sheet let down to Peter in that passage found in Acts 10:9-20, to the instruction sent to the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, recorded in Acts 15:29 and other similar passages.

Today, we have reached Leviticus 11, wherein The Almighty God lays down specific health rules for the nutrition of His people, and thus, for their healthful preparation for a spirit-filled holy service to Himself. Before we actually begin our reading, I ought to say that there are references of a more or less general introductory nature which Keil and Delitzsch, The Companion Bible, and the New Bible Commentary supply to us, and I shall mention these now.

Under the heading "Ceremonial Laws", The Companion Bible notes that this passage is one of four which are grouped as being related under that theme. These passages are: 11:1-47, "Food and defilement", 12:1-8, "Child-bearing", 13:1-14:57, "Leprosy", and 15:1-33, "Issues." These same chapters are likewise grouped in The New Bible Commentary, where we find the following words under the heading "Laws Regarding Uncleanness" xi.1 - xv. 33: "'Unclean' (defiled) is the conspicuous word in this group of chapters. It occurs more than 100 times. Almost equally noteworthy is the rare occurrence of the word 'sin' (evil, wickedness). This indicates that here the emphasis is on the ceremonial rather than on the ethical. Yet it does not follow that uncleanness is a matter of minor importance. Failure to do what God has commanded is sin, whether the act be ceremonial or moral. Unclean is the antithesis of holy. Everything which is inconsistent with the holiness of God may be described as uncleanness. It may be purely ceremonial, as the touching of a dead body, or it may be crimes which are so shocking to the moral sense that it is a shame even to speak of them (xviii. 20-25). In most cases the uncleanness is quite temporary, lasting only until the even (xi. 25), and in certain cases requires the washing of the garments or of the person in water. But it may cover a considerable period of time and require the presenting of a sin offering. Ceremonial purity was indispensable for a holy people. The uncleannesses that are dealt with are of several kinds." At this point, under the heading "uncleanness due to animals (xi. 1-47)" The Commentary adds "This subject is discussed under two aspects, living animals as food and contact with dead animals." We may leave those further comments which follow, as also with those supplied to us by Keil and Delitzsch, which are of a greater depth and extent, until we have actually read some verses of Leviticus 11.

As the 11th chapter is rather a long one, we shall only read a short portion for now, beginning at verse 1, and only covering a section which deals with the definition of permissible foods among the domesticated animal inhabitants of the land.

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
5. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
6. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
7. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

We could say much regarding the details which are even now mentioned in these opening verses, which deal only with the quadrupeds. (The remaining three passages deal with sea food, birds and insects.) Perhaps we might occupy the remaining moments today by reading the comments which the Companion Bible notes at verse 4. It says of the words "not eat", "These laws are not arbitrary. Food plays a chief part in health and sickness. It is our wisdom to obey these laws now, as far as possible. All are based on the preservation and health of the race. Some for sanitary reasons. Some from peculiarities of climate. Some for separating from other peoples." It adds that the word "coney" in verse 5 equates to the old English name for rabbit, and the word "hare", which appears here in verse 6 and in Deuteronomy 14:7, is Hebrew 'arnebeth, which is "not yet identified." Keil and Delitzsch appear more certain regarding meanings of the Hebrew names, but we shall probably do well to leave their insights until the next lesson.

May I leave with you for this week's meditation the thought that our choice of food forms one of the chief points at which we can beneficially affect the health of our own bodies. If we seek to be of service to a Holy God Who has given an order regarding the health of His people, we do well to observe what God has given to us for our protection. We listen to the advice of our medical authorities. It is stupid to ignore the advice of "The Great Physician" Who has created us, and Who loves us, and Who has given us orders regarding what we may and may not eat. The wise will understand and observe what is herein recommended to our attention, and will thus seek the attendant blessings.

22 September, 1996

THE FOOD WE EAT - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We began this ongoing series of Bible Studies several years ago back in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram, and the steady progression of studies since that time, in sequence, has led us down through the Biblical account of God's dealings with Abram and his descendants. We have of late arrived at the situation we are presently examining; that found in Leviticus 11.

This passage recounts part of the instruction granted to Moses by The Almighty God at Mount Sinai for His special people, Israel, who have newly emerged through The Exodus from Egyptian bondage. Here, The Almighty God declares His Divine Law relating to those things which may or may not be eaten by His people; those who are descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.

The particular interest which these passages may hold for the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the present day stems from the fact, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation affirm, that they form the vast majority of those who are the present-day descendants of these same Israelites of Biblical description, and hence are the primary recipients of the potential blessings for obedience and the corresponding curses for non-observance of these same laws.

As pointed out in our last lesson, we fertilise the soil when we desire to have it bring forth a suitable crop of some sort such as we might desire. If we do this when we cultivate a crop, can we be surprised if we find that The Almighty God, The Creator of all things, does the same thing in preparing to bring forth a people whom He is cultivating for the purpose of bringing in a harvest of fruit in every way? Will He not both in physical affairs as well as in Spiritual, provide instruction concerning the healthy ingredients to be placed in His field, to be the means of feeding His people, body and soul, and instruct regarding the unhealthy ingredients which are to be excluded from participating in the formation of the bodies and minds of those who are chosen to be of special, that is to say, "peculiar", service to Himself?"

As we stated at that time, The Almighty has made such instruction perfectly clear. We may not all be acquainted with the details of the Levitical instructions, but I feel sure that most people have at least some sense of the things which are capable of imparting health to our bodies and the particular instructions found in Leviticus 11, when we do read them, will therefore not come as a complete surprise. In fact, they appear to make a statement of reasonably good sense to many people who have no Biblical background at all.

As the 11th chapter is rather a long one, we only had time on the last programme to cover, in part, the first section which deals with the definition of permissible foods among the domesticated animal inhabitants of the land.

Under the heading "Ceremonial Laws", The Companion Bible notes that this passage is one of four which are grouped as being related under that theme. These passages are: Leviticus 11:1-47, "Food and defilement", 12:1-8, "Child-bearing", 13:1-14:57, "Leprosy", and 15:1-33, "Issues."

Before we actually begin today's reading, I ought, once again, to say that there are references of a more or less general introductory nature which Keil and Delitzsch, The Companion Bible, and the New Bible Commentary supply to us, and to which I shall be making reference as we proceed. On our last lesson, we did read the first 8 verses of Leviticus 11, but before we proceed, it might be of benefit to review the chapter from verse 1 to see if Keil and Delitzsch can provide some further points of interest to us.

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
5. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
6. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
7. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Keil and Delitzsch make the point that, in addition to the domesticated oxen, sheep and goats, the rules would include the stag, which is expressly mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:4-5 and probably the related antelope like the oryx, but not the camel the hoof of which they explain, is not technically entirely severed . They further explain that, in verse 8, this abstinence from the flesh of animals which had died of themselves would apply to all, not just those which were classed as unclean. Let us pick up our Scripture reading at verse 9:

9. These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
10. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
11. They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomination.
12. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Keil and Delitzsch write of this passage "Of water animals, everything in the water, in seas and brooks, that had fins and scales was edible. Everything else that swarmed in the water was to be an abomination, its flesh was not to be eaten, and its carrion was to be avoided with abhorrence. Consequently, not only were all water animals other than fishes, such as crabs, salamanders, etc., forbidden as unclean; but also fishes without scales, such as eels for example." The New Bible Commentary adds frogs to this forbidden list.

We must keep in mind the generality and practicality of these rules. Clearly, this Scripture would eliminate from the diet of God's people, as in the case of the forbidden swine among the land animals, any crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp, and all shellfish like oysters. It seems that the forbidden categories from the seas are generally scavengers; and consist in the main of those life forms that obtain sustenance from the floor of the sea. These would perhaps ingest much that would be of questionable nutritional balance for humans.

Now please don't take offence at me for simply repeating what The Almighty God, Who designed and created our systems, commands of us in this regard. If we ignore His wise directions, and insist, with whatever show of justification, that we can ignore these rules of diet, then we must not question later why God has allowed us to get various illnesses, the advancement of which is facilitated by such a dietary inclusion. These forbidden delicacies may, indeed, be the hidden, long-term yet direct causes of our ills. As I see it, we must not blame The Almighty God for not answering a prayer for healing if we have been ignoring His Laws in this regard! Occasionally I hear repeated, even from some of my friends and acquaintances, the argument which goes something like this: "Oh that's Old Testament Law, which the New Testament allows us to ignore!" That, I believe, is simply twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction, in spite of what the local pastor or minister advises. The wise will in no case chance the ill health which is designated to come upon those who do not obey God's instructions.

Further, if you are one who makes a livelihood from the sale of such types of forbidden "food", I hope that you will think again of those Gadarene swine mentioned in Luke 8:26-39, which Christ permitted to receive the devils from the afflicted man called Legion, and to run down the steep place to their deaths by drowning, in the lake. Christ was responsible for the destruction of those "many swine", and the obvious financial loss to those who were herding them for profit. Far from reimbursing those who had been feeding the swine, Christ as the incarnate expression of Jehovah, Who had given this Law to Israel in the Old Testament, was imposing a signal penalty for that transgression of His Own Law while at the same time providing healing to the afflicted man. Surely the same retribution awaits those who cultivate any of these forbidden foods for profit. Incidentally, I find it interesting that the devils in this account, seeking to evade a command "to go out into the deep", requested permission to enter the swine instead. Christ permit them to do so, but thereupon the swine conveyed them to the same end anyway!

The next Scriptural passage deals with the categories of bird life, and designates some which are not to be eaten. The Companion Bible admits that the English equivalents of some of the Hebrew names of the birds are a bit obscure, but some general observations can be made after we read the verses concerned. That task, however, we shall have to leave for our next programme, as our time has expired for today.

May I leave with you the thought that these laws, far from restrictive, are the means to greater freedom through enhanced health. God shows mankind His love through such Laws.

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