Aaron was a dad. And like any parent I’m pretty sure that when he stood before Israel as their priest with his sons at his side, there was a great sense of satisfaction and joy at having his sons follow in his footsteps.
If you are a parent, I’d imagine you’ve experienced the same when your son or daughter followed in your footsteps and decided to follow Jesus, maybe joined in a ministry with you. Can there be a greater satisfaction than having your child serve God next to you?
But sadly for Aaron, that joy didn’t last long. Two of his sons paid the ultimate price for disobedience when God struck them dead, right in front of their dad. To make matters worse, Aaron had to decide whether to throw himself on the dead bodies of his children or honor God. He chose God.
But that doesn’t mean his heart wasn’t broken.
At the end of chapter 10, we are at the dinner table with Aaron and his two remaining sons. It wasn’t just a meal. It was part of the sin offering as commanded by God for the people of Israel. The priests (Aaron and sons) were to eat part of the offering in a holy place. What was left of the offering after they had eaten was to be burned up.
They sat there, but they couldn’t bring themselves to eat. Their hearts weren’t in it. So they packed up the left-overs and burned them. The fact that they burned the whole thing made Moses mad. Hadn’t they learned what God felt about disobedience? Aren’t two dead sons enough for us to get the message?
In essence Aaron said,”I’ve done everything required of me today for the sins of the people. I’ve honored God above my sons. But my sadness has taken away my appetite for food. Would God want me to just go through the motions?” Moses knew the answer was, “No.”
And God doesn’t want us to just go through the motions, either. I think of the privilege of gathering around the Communion Table to remember Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection. I wonder how many times I’ve gone through the motions when my heart wasn’t in it, when sin put up that wall between me and my Savior. I wonder how many times I’ve reached in and pulled out a tiny cracker, knowing I shouldn’t, but afraid of what people might think if I let it pass by me.
It’s not just the Lord’s Table I’m thinking about. Aaron has something to say about any act of service or expression of worship. Going through the motions isn’t obedience. God is not interested in sacrifices if our hearts aren’t in it. Man notices and judges us based on what we do. God sees the heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God so I can serve and honor You like You deserve.