In Leviticus 10 there is the tragic story of Nadab and Abihu, the grown sons of Aaron. Though only recently ordained as priests and with clear instructions on how to offer sacrifices, they instead offer sacrifices as they want. “They offered unauthorized fire that had not been commanded them” (10:1). God will not be defied, especially by his priests, and so fire came out from the Lord and consumed them. Their sin of offering unauthorized fire falls back on them as they are literally burned alive. A tragic and reminder to do things God’s way and not to take the initiative without following God’s way.
But in a later chapter, Aaron’s other sons also have a hard time following instructions. Eleazar and Ithamar are commanded to eat a portion of the sacrifice offered to the Lord. Instead, they do not do what was commanded and instead burn the whole offering. Only the intervention of the their father prevents their trouble.
One set of sons dies because they took initiative without asking. Another set of sons was almost consumed because they did not obey all the way.
Now we know that adults are responsible for their own lives, but I have to wonder if some of this falls back on Aaron. In Exodus 32 we are able to take a look at Aaron’s character. In that chapter we see several unappealing aspects of his character.
1. He did not oppose the sinful desires of the people. (v.21, v.25)
2. He excused their sin by saying the people are set upon evil. (v.22)
3. He did not take responsibility for his own sin. (v.24)
4. They had become a laughingstock to the other people. (v.25)
I wonder if these same leadership flaws that are so evident in the crisis of leading the people were also in his parenting.
I have seen fathers who do not take seriously their responsibility to rein in the sinful desires of their children. Instead, with a “boys will be boys” attitude, they let their children run loose. What they do not realize is that the ourworking of this sinful upbringing may not be immediate. The lack of internalizing their discipline to obey the Lord will come out later in life.
As a parent, my character weaknesses will come out at different points in my life. If I don’t actively deal with the faults, then they will affect my children. To paraphrase John Owen’s words, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you” (and your children).