“And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 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. 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” (Leviticus 9:22-24).
I read the above passage a few weeks for my devotions and have been mulling over it every since. What has particularly struck me is the fact that after Aaron had performed the sacrifices, “he came down.” And then “the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people” and they fell down in worship.
Leviticus is primarily a book that outlines the ordinances of God to the people of Israel. It is full of what they should be doing and what they should refrain from doing. Particularly detailed are the instructions to offering sacrifices which the priests were to obey explicitly. And so I find it interesting that in the midst of this book of law, there is this verse describing Aaron as coming down from the offering to behold the glory of the Lord with the people. His work was done; it was time to watch God work.
I was reminded that the purpose of service and sacrifice is to witness God’s glory. The Westminster Catechism says that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” After reading Leviticus 9, I wrote this is in my journal: “How often do I get caught up in ‘my’ work (though I may call it the Lord’s work) and forget to ‘be still and know’ the greatness of His glory? Am I too caught up in the earthly aspects of Christianity? If I am not beholding and knowing the glory of God and ‘shouting for joy’ and falling on my face in worship, then yes, I am. It is good to serve, to be diligent in living out my faith – I am called to these things – but it is just as necessary a part of worship to step down, quiet myself, and witness the presence of the Lord, Who deserves all the glory.”
In order to behold the glory of God, I must step down as Aaron did, and be still. Jim Eliot said it this way: “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds. If he can keep us hearing radios, gossip, conversation, or even sermons, he is happy. But he will not allow quietness. For he believes Isaiah [‘In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’] where we do not. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence. The voice of God, though persistent, is soft…Let us resist the devil in this by avoiding noise as much as we can, purposefully seeking to spend time alone facing ourselves in the Word…Satan is aware of where we find our strength. May he not rob us!” (Shadow of the Almighty)
So many things demand our attention and occupy our thoughts. Our days go by as whirlwinds and our list of things to do never ends or seems to diminish. And yet God often calls us to wait on Him. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). He calls us to meditate on His goodness and to remember that it is His work, not mine, that matters. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippiams 2:12,13).
Take time, along with being busy about good works, to step down and be still. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). Those who wait on God will not be disappointed. “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18)”. It is after all, the witnessing and the knowledge of God’s glory that spurs us to worship and service. His attributes of goodness, mercy, faithfulness, love and sovereignty are the driving force behind our grateful adoration.
“And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth” (Deuteronomy 5:24).