Saturday, 5 April 2008

To whom God reveals himself

There is an interesting comment by God at the time that he slays Aaron's sons for unauthorised offering (strange/foreign fire).
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD has said, 'Among those who are near me I will show myself holy, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And Aaron held his peace. (Lev 10)
There are 2 other situations that somewhat parallel this one. The slaying of Uzzah for touching the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6) and the slaying of Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). In the Nadab episode God makes interesting statement,
Among those who are near me I will show myself holy, and before all the people I will be glorified.
It is uncertain whether the first clause should be translated
Among those who are near me I will be treated as holy
as per LXX, NASB, ESV and NEB; or
Among those who are near me I will show myself holy
as per NIV, NRSV, NLT, and NET.

If the former then Nadab and Abihu were in a position of closeness by the nature of their position as priests, in which case God killed them for not treating him as holy. If the latter then God revealed his holiness in his judgment of their disobedience.

Now consider the implication of the latter interpretation. Those who are close to God will see God's holiness and that by God's revelation. But to all men God will still make his glory known. Everyone will see the glory of the Lord. Those close to him will experience his holiness.
Among those who are near me I will show myself holy,
and before all the people I will be glorified.
The phrase is a parallelism. In which case the former interpretation may be the preferable translation and the second clause is expanding on the first.
Among those who are near me I will be treated as holy,
and before all the people I will be glorified.

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