Recently in church we were discussing the first official offerings the Israelites made in Leviticus. Having received their strict instructions and purified themselves, the new (and first) high priest, Aaron the brother of Moses, spends most of chapter 3 offering the first sacrifices to the Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. Verse 9:24 shows us that God shows up in a big way and the people rejoice. They fall down in ecstasy and worship. all is well... really, really well. Until the very next verse-
"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3
Wow- before anyone knew what had happened, the events turned from celebrations to carnage. Aaron went from proud and excited to what I can only imagine was profound pain, sorrow, and confusion. After all, he just witnessed two of his sons being burned alive by God. Not a visual he would soon forget I bet.
How quickly things can turn 'bad'! How fast the rug can be pulled out from under us... even by God. Especially by God sometimes.
It is indeed a sad story, a truly telling anecdote of how important following God's commands are... often life and death. And yet, the part that struck me the most yesterday were a mere four words.
...Aaron held his peace.
A profound reaction no? Aaron, despite just witnessing what he did... the personal grief, shock, and anger that must have immediately sprung up... HELD his peace.
This had huge implications for me. First off, it implies he had peace to begin with. It implies he chose to keep it instead of flinging it away, despite and in spite of what circumstances surrounded him. He purposefully KEPT his peace. He didn't lose it, he didn't ignore it was there, he didn't throw it down in fury. He held it... better yet, I imagine he CLUNG to it.
Jesus speaks often of peace, HIs peace that confounds the world. John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
Aaron had reason to be troubled... and I imagine he was quite afraid in the moment as well. But the peace that God gives- he kept. He held onto. It is a stark picture of the kind of peace God offers us, and even more so what we should do with it.
If circumstances in your life right now are confounding to you. If sorrow or anger, frustration or grief are threatening to overtake your sanity. The peace offered to you is already given by Abba. It needs to be held, clung to, sought after, and kept.
Keep your peace dear ones- if Aaron can do it, so can we!