‘Sanctified’ means recognized as holy, set apart from the commonplace; treating a situation or place with all reverence. Above all, this must be our attitude toward God. In Leviticus we see the dramatic and disastrous result of a failure to do this.
Imagine being there with all the wonder of the tabernacle and the manifestation of God’s presence when it was inaugurated! “The glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offerings …” (9:23,24). The result should have been attitudes of reverence and humility. The reaction of the people was understandable, “they shouted and fell on their faces” (verse 24).
Aaron had four sons, all involved in assisting their father, but tragedy overwhelmed two of them. We might say that their important positions went to their heads! Nadab and Abihu “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” (10:1). The result was terrifying for they “died before the LORD” as fire from Him “consumed them” (verse 2). Moses then says to Aaron, “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified” (verse 3).
There is a lesson here for everyone who seeks to serve God and have a close relationship with Him: this applies to Christians just as much as to Israelites. Several examples of failure come to mind. One is the practice of christening of babies, which is not mentioned in the Bible. The followers of Christ practiced baptism, which is described as “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21). Another is teaching people a “different gospel” to “distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6,7). Paul says, “let him be accursed” (verse 9); who does that – and this is what happened to two of the sons of Aaron. A most important lesson for us as we follow Christ and the apostles, doing so in ways which follow the example they set and the words they preached.