The Bible’s frank portrayal of God’s attributes shows us that God does not suffer prideful rebels and those who disregard or modify His instructions. For example, there is the story in Leviticus 10 of an incident in the wilderness. Two of the sons of Aaron went off the menu and profaned God by offering “strange fire,” which was apparently their idea. Perhaps the spectacle of the sacrifice that had just been consumed by heavenly fire appealed to the showmanship in them. In some way they had not been careful to follow the process specified by God. Whatever their transgression was, heavenly fire did fall but sadly it fell on them in what was a poignant “teachable moment” for those who witnessed the result of their flippant attitudes toward God. About this incident, God simply said to Moses: “I will be sanctified (sacred, holy, and separate) in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified” (respected and honored).
One of the problems of being made in the image of God is that we can be susceptible to losing perspective of who we are and who God is. The reality is like this, I am a firecracker and God is a supernova. Yes, we are both “explosions” but the comparison is valueless when considering the difference in scope. Even in our human relations we generally bristle when some really smart six year old spouts off or infers that he is smarter than you, the grownup. The fact is that the young “whippersnapper” is really so ignorant he doesn’t even have a clue of how ignorant he is.
Some people will read the above verse and make a judgment that God suffers from some sort of mental disorder since He proclaimed he “must be glorified.” No, God takes His personal-holiness seriously and so should we. Since He created everything doesn’t He rightfully deserve the respect, honor and credit? I think He does.
Some may view God’s actions in the above incident as undeservedly harsh (like they know all the facts and can make a proper judgment). The fact is that we don’t have all the facts. It is similar to a father seen grabbing his child who started to wander into the busy street and afterward gave him a serious swat. Onlookers may have thought that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. Of course, they didn’t know the fact that this was not the first time the boy had shown disregard for the danger. In this case if consequences were the teacher, this would have been the end of the lessons. The dad was hoping a little pain inflicted now would prevent fatal pain later.
In mankind, rebellion against God (a fatal disorder) spreads like a communicable disease and will keep spreading until some sort of intervention takes place. In the “strange fire” incident, the intervention was harsh and no doubt the talk of the camp for a good long time. But surely after the incident, God’s instructions were taken a lot more seriously and respectfully. Also countless Israelite’s were saved from the consequences of rebellion because of what they learned from Aaron’s Sons.
Potential “whippersnappers” like us should remember that God’s harshness is motivated by His love and caring concern for mankind’s eternal state. Quite simply, it pays to remember that He alone is God and we are not. We should follow His instructions and not trust in our own good ideas, especially His instructions on how we are saved.