Love to God is shown through sorrow that His law has been transgressed.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
“Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator .… Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him.” Education, 263.
It seems that our focus, our thoughts, and our “realities,” have become so perverted and blinded that it has seriously affected our judgment. We profess to be Christians, to love God and the principles of His kingdom supremely. But do we really? Consider this illustration from Inspiration, and deal honestly with our own souls about our real feelings in relation, not only to this story, but when similar circumstances take place in our own lives.
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This [is it] that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled. And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord [is] upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:1–7).
In this situation, two of Aaron’s sons sinned against the Lord. They used “common fire” in their censors rather than the “sacred fire” kindled by the Lord. This was a grievous sin. Immediately, God sent fire down from heaven and consumed them.
These two men were the sons of Aaron. Not only were they his sons, but they were also co-workers with him in the Lord’s service. Understandably, Aaron loved these sons. Yet after fire came down from God and consumed them, we find God, through Moses, giving Aaron, and his remaining two sons, this command:
“And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar, and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes, lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people; but let your brethren, the burning which the Lord hath kindled. And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:6, 7).
Aaron and his other two sons were forbidden from showing any grief for the terrible death of the sons and brothers. This may seem to be a little harsh a requirement enforced by the Sovereign of the universe, or is this a reasonable and fair constraint?
Given the state of our minds, compromised and degraded by 6,000 years of sin, we will turn to Inspiration to assist us in sorting out this question. Leviticus 10:3 informs us that God said to Aaron through Moses “This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” This means that for those that wish to be made holy, God will sanctify, or make holy. Every opportunity, every provision has been made for any individual to be made holy that desires to have holiness. This provision was made at infinite cost and suffering. Eleazor and Ithamar had no excuse for their sin. The question then for Aaron and his other two sons was this, did they have more loyalty to and more love for God, His law, and the principles of His government, or for his two sons who had grievously sinned against God, brought Him pain and suffering, and brought dishonor and disgrace to His holy sanctuary and the sacred services connected with it?
Inspiration explains, “He [Aaron] knew that God was just; and he murmured not. His heart was grieved at the dreadful death of his sons while in their disobedience; yet, according to God’s command, he made no expression of his sorrow, lest he should share the same fate of his sons, and the congregation also be infected with the spirit of unreconciliation, and God’s wrath come upon them.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 277.
We need to ask ourself, where is my heart? Where are my loyalties? Where are my supreme affections? Where, truly, is my allegiance?
“When the Israelites committed sin, and God punished them for their transgression, and the people mourned for the fate of the one punished, instead of sorrowing because God had been dishonored, the sympathizers were accounted equally guilty with the transgressor.” Ibid., 278.
With whom was the heart, the affections, the loyalties of the people? When they mourned for the transgressor, though that individual/those individuals, were knowingly violating the principles of God and His government, did they really have supreme love for God, the Power that had worked so mightily in their behalf, delivered them from such cruel bondage in Egypt, worked miracle after miracle in their behalf, showing such tender mercy and infinite patience with so rebellious a people? Or did they have greater love, loyalty and affection for the transgressors? Even more significant, did they give supreme love and worship to the One, the Immortal, loved Commander of heaven, who had left all the bliss of heaven to descend to this earth, its degradation, its pain, its sorrow, its mortality, and the risk of failure and eternal loss, all for love of them, to provide them the immeasurable gift of eternal life? Or were they giving their supreme love, affection and loyalty to a human being?
Yet, when one or more of their number was struck down by God for the boldest defiance of His perfect, protecting law, they mourned not for the dishonor given to God; they mourned for the loss of the rebellious.
Do we love God so much that we are grieved when He is dishonored? Or does a human being, however close they may be to us, hold a more loved place in our heart than our God? This is truly a very difficult question, but a very serious one.
God tells us, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). Are our allegiances truly with our God and Saviour, the One who created us, and then redeemed us at such an infinite cost? Do we love the principles of that Kingdom of Glory to which we claim to be going?
Furthermore, “The Lord teaches us, in the directions given to Aaron, reconciliation to His just punishments, even if His wrath comes very nigh. He would have His people acknowledge the justness of His corrections, that others may fear. In these last days, many are liable to be self-deceived, and they are unable to see their own wrongs. If God, through His servants, reproves and rebukes the erring, there are those who stand ready to sympathize with those who deserve reproof. They will seek to lighten the burden which God compelled His servants to lay upon them. These sympathizers think they are performing a virtuous act by sympathizing with the one at fault, whose course may have greatly injured the cause of God. Such are deceived. They are only arraying themselves against God’s servants, who have done His will, and against God himself, and are equally guilty with the transgressor. There are many erring souls who might have been saved if they had not been deceived by receiving false sympathy.” The Spirit of Prophecy, 278.
If we truly understand this paragraph, when our sympathies go out to those rebelling against the government of God, we become traitors with them. And not only that, we participate in their eternal loss because we sympathize with evil. Sin, no matter how small, is evil. We have just lost the realization of that reality because we are so familiar with sin.
We need to wake up. Let us not be “foolish virgins” knowing the truths of God in our minds, but not bringing them into the center of our being. Bringing the truths of God into the center of our being means loving God with the entire heart, soul, and mind. It means giving to Him our supreme affections, our most ardent loyalties, always siding with Him and the principles of His government in every situation.
There are only two sides available in this earth, the side of God, or the side of the arch enemy of God, Satan. There is no middle ground. There is no dividing of affections. God says you cannot be divided; either you are wholly His (not sympathizing with those who dishonor Him) or you are with Satan. Are we willing to love God supremely, more than “father or mother” more than “son or daughter,” or are our supreme affections with a human being?
Are we living in the “reality” of the unseen, that of a heart knowledge of and love for One that has sacrificed more for us than any human could? If so, then, as with Aaron, we will understand and from the heart, mourn for the dishonoring of God and the principles of His kingdom more than for the one suffering the discipline for the act that has brought dishonor to our Saviour. Is this our “reality” or are we still living blinded by familiarity with sin and God’s abhorrence of it that we “side” with the sinner?
“Where is your heart?”