And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar…
I. THAT SORE AFFLICTIONS SOMETIMES BEFALL THE SERVANTS OF GOD.
1. The death of two sons by one stroke.
2. The distressing character of their death.
3. The prohibition of any expression of grief.
II. THAT UNDER THE PRESSURE OF SORE AFFLICTIONS THE SERVANTS OF GOD ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND TO RELIGIOUS DUTIES.
1. The obligatoriness of such duties is not annulled by trial. Trust in God, and prayer and praise to him, are binding in sickness as in health, in sorrow as m joy. So are all religious duties.
2. The need of the help which attention to such duties affords is not diminished by trial, but rather increased.
III. THAT UNDER THE PRESSURE OF SORE AFFLICTIONS THE MIND AND HEART OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD OFTEN SEEM UNEQUAL TO A PROPER DISCHARGE OF RELIGIOUS DUTIES. On the day when this calamity befell them, Aaron and his surviving sons did not accurately discharge their sacred duties. It was expressly commanded that the flesh of those sin offerings, the blood of which was not carried into the Tabernacle of the congregation, should be eaten by the officiating priests (Leviticus 6:24-30). Instead of doing this, Aaron and his sons burnt the flesh of the sinoffering (vers. 16-18). The error may be viewed as —
1. An oversight caused by the things which had befallen them. In great griefs the heart seems dead to every feeling but the predominant one, and the mind seems incapable of sustained attention to anything except what is related to its griefs. Meditation upon the holy Scriptures, prayer, spiritual aspirations, communion with God — these seem impossible to the sorrow-stricken soul. Needing them so urgently, yet the soul seems unable properly to attend to them.
2. Intentional because of felt unfitness to eat of the "most holy" flesh. This seems to receive most support from the words following the text: "Such things have befallen me, and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the Lord?" The bereaved father seems to have been not only sorrowful, but deeply awed and humbled by the things which had befallen him, and to have felt that if he had eaten the "most holy" flesh in such a frame of mind it would not have been acceptable to God. His case reminds us of some who absent themselves from the sacrament of the Lord's supper because of a sincere feeling of unworthiness. But let such persons remember that Aaron's sense of unworthiness did not disqualify him for eating the flesh of the sin-offering; he rather erred in not doing so.
IV. THAT WHEN THE MIND AND HEART OF THE SUFFERING SERVANTS OF GOD SEEM THUS UNFITTED FOR RELIGIOUS DUTIES, GOD DOES NOT ACCOUNT SUCH UNFITNESS AS SIN. When Moses heard the apology of Aaron "he was content"; and we are warranted in regarding his "content" as an evidence that God also was satisfied with the reason assigned by the high priest for his deviation from the line of duty. Surely the Lord knew the intense anguish which His servant was suffering, and regarded him with deepest, tenderest pity. "The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." Here is consolation for the sorrow-stricken soul. If in the day of your sore afflictions you seem to have no heart for worship, your efforts to pray end in what seems to you to be utter failure, and religious thought and emotion seem to have entirely departed from you, remember the touching words of Aaron in his great calamity, "Such things have befallen me"; remember also those other words, "And when Moses heard that, he was content."
Parallel VersesKJV: And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying,