Poor Aaron. He loses two of his sons right before his very eyes (and receives blunt advice instead of comfort from Moses, yikes).
“I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.” 10:3
This story of God striking someone dead as a direct result of their sin feels similar to the story of Uzzah in 1 Chronicles 13. It stings a little bit and seems harsh. Aaron’s son were disobeying the law mentioned in Exodus 30:9, which specific forbids what they did and it cost them their lives. Some commentators assume that they were drunk and careless, since they had previously been feasting. Either way, they were prideful and hasty in the presence of God. Our holy God, who is righteous in his actions to quickly punish sin.
The legalist in me wants to use this verse as a scare tactic. To highlight the justice and fury of God and shame myself out of sinning or becoming prideful. But a story like this should humble us, not shame us. It’s an important reminder to revere and honor his holiness by showing obedience. I don’t claim to fully understand this story, or even be fully comfortable with it. I think being completely comfortable with God’s holiness is to underestimate him. We will not be able to follow every single rule correctly all the time. He is abundant in his grace and mercy, and his son Jesus has covered us well in our shortcomings. But we can be expected to remain humble and repent. Don’t let your pride get away from you. Don’t try to wear your identity to protect yourself from the consequences of sin. Pastor’s kid? Long-time Christian? Missionary? Doesn’t matter. These were Aaron’s sons, related to Moses, and they didn’t get a pass.
Where do you let pride creep in?
What identity do you cling to?