In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s eleven-year-old son William succumbed to typhoid fever. Because of the crisis embroiling the nation, Lincoln did not have much time to stop and mourn. He carried his grief with him as he conducted his responsibilities as President.
In ancient Israel, it was common to enter a period of formal mourning at the death of a loved one. The mourning ritual involved tearing your clothes and not caring for your hair or handling the dead body. Aaron and his sons had been consecrated for ministry to offer sacrifices on behalf of the nation. They had been in the midst of the worship associated with the dedication of the tabernacle when tragedy occurred.
Moses reminded Aaron that despite the loss of two of his sons, he had to fulfill his role as high priest (vv. 6–7). Moses was not saying Aaron could not be sad or grieve. Rather as leaders, the priests had a job that they needed to complete. In verses 8–11, the Lord spoke to Aaron directly and commanded him and his sons not to drink any alcoholic beverage while on duty. One reason could be that alcohol was involved in Nadab and Abihu’s sin—although this is not stated directly. The Lord provided several reasons why priests should abstain while on duty. They needed to be able to think clearly to distinguish between the clean and unclean (v. 10).
Part of their role was also to teach the Law of Moses to the people (v. 11). In Israel, it wasn’t just the priests or religious leaders who needed to know God’s word. All the people were to be trained in the knowledge of God’s commands.
>> Today’s reading reminds us that Christian leaders are held to a higher standard. Jesus taught, that “from everyone who has been given much; much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). Take a few moments today to pray for your pastor or other spiritual leaders whom God has placed in your life.
Our pastors and elders are big targets of the Enemy. Lord, please strengthen them in faith and surround them with trusted friends who will support them and graciously hold them accountable.