It’s important to keep learning. A good indicator is if we change our minds about things, either major or minor. So I was pleased to change my mind on a bit of the Bible I read recently.
Leviticus 10 is not in the most commonly-read book of the Bible (despite it’s in a book of fundamental importance to understanding the whole, especially Jesus as a sacrifice for sin).
Aaron is high priest, and the new priests’ workplace has just been commissioned. It’s running smoothly, according to God’s instruction. Then two of Aaron’s sons presumptuously rock up to God to try and ‘be religious’ or whatever. Their death teaches all that God’s holiness is without compromise, and that it’s folly to think humans can freely approach God without the cleansing that he alone can supply.
Later in the chapter it turns out that Aaron has not done the daily sacrifices completely properly – he didn’t eat the part that was allocated to him. Aaron says:
And Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?”
I used to think Aaron was expressing his regret and mourning, like any dad. Now I don’t!
Rather, this is about Aaron’s huge role as high priest for the whole nation. By Aaron being acceptable to God the whole nation is also acceptable to God. He’s worried that eating might be improper and cause another problem – perhaps another death in the high priestly family.
I reckon at times nowadays we psychologise texts too much, imagining how people feel and their motives. That’s not really bad – except when it makes me miss the obvious. In Leviticus, the priest is essential for the spiritual health and vigour of the whole nation. (And so we need think of Jesus as the great high priest, not some denominational so-called priest.) Aaron knew this, so did not approach God in his mourning, in case this would not be acceptable to God.