Greetings Butler County. I pray that this week’s article finds you all doing well. In last week’s article we looked at our need for authority in religion and how authority for everything we say and do in religion and our Christian lives must come from God. This week I want to illustrate these points by looking at some examples from the Old Testament. In next week’s article I want to explore several principles in the New Testament that also illustrate these points.
First, let’s look at the example of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.3-5. Both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to the Lord. Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice. The Lord had regard for his sacrifice (Genesis 4.4b). He offered a sacrifice with faith in what God told him, in other words he had authority from God for his sacrifice (Hebrews 11.4). On the other hand, Cain offered an unacceptable sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice did not please the Lord. Why was his sacrifice not pleasing to the Lord? Because he did not have authority from God for his sacrifice. Just because it brings about good or is religious does not mean that it comes from God. Cain offered a sacrifice. But, his sacrifice, although religious in nature, was not authorized by God!
Next, let’s look at the example of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.1-2. They offered up strange fire before the Lord. The Lord had not commanded this fire. Therefore the Lord consumed them with fire. Where did they go wrong? They were priests and had a right to offer sacrifices to the Lord. But, they did not offer this sacrifice in the exact way God wanted them to, that is, in a way that was authorized by God! Many people today have the same misconception. They feel that as long as something is religious or seems to be good then they have authority to do so. This could not be farther from the truth! God requires us to have authorization by Him for everything we say and do (cf. Col. 3.17).
Next, let’s look at the example of Uzzah and the ark in 2 Samuel 6.5-7. The ark was about to fall off the cart and Uzzah tried to save it. Uzzah reached up and steadied the ark to prevent it from falling. And the Lord killed him for it! Uzzah did not have authority from God to touch the ark. God’s authority for moving the ark involved carrying it on the shoulders of the priests’ using two poles (cf. Exodus 25.14-15; Numbers 4.15). Uzzah had noble and good intentions. Uzzah was attempting to do good by saving the sacred, holy Ark of the Covenant. Many people would say this was a noble action. But he had no authority from God and therefore God was not pleased!
Lastly, let’s look at the example of King Uzziah attempting to burn incense in 2 Chronicles 26.16-20. Uzziah wanted to participate in the good work of burning incense before God. He went into the temple and started to burn incense before the Lord. Eighty-one priests came in to stop him. Uzziah became enraged at the priests and continued to try to offer incense before the Lord. The Lord struck him with leprosy for being disobedient! Again, burning incense was a good a work. Many people would want us to think that Uzziah had the same right as any priest to participate in this good work. The problem is it was not a work that Uzziah was authorized by God to participate in (cf. Exo. 30.1-10)!