Here in Leviticus, the third book of Moses, we again find the phrase as the Lord commanded repeated on several occasions. This phrase speaks directly about one’s obedience to God, and is given in reference to Moses, Aaron and the entirety of Israel. This phrase appears 11 times1 and serves as an important marker signifying events of righteousness through obedience.
In Leviticus 8, this phrase is found six times. In this chapter we see where God commands Moses to sanctify the priests: Aaron2, Nadab, Abihu3, Eleasar, and Ithamar4 for their service before God and the people. Their role is not ordinary, nor is it extraordinary but it is of such a caliber that God expects these men to be set-apart for a specific responsibility. Their responsibility was to assist the people, collectively and individually, with their sacrifices. Moses did not fail to meet God’s expectations. He completed the task before him, and performed the task as the Lord commanded.
In application to Aaron, the phrase is found three times5. In Leviticus 9, Aaron executes his first duties as high priest. This sets the precedent, from the priesthood’s beginning, that God’s commands guided the priests’ actions as opposed to their feelings and/or reasonings. Later, for Aaron, it must have seemed unfortunate that the events of the Day of Atonement fell on the heels of his sons’ death6. Yet, it is spiritually significant that Leviticus 16 records that Aaron (in the face of certain familial turmoil and what was sure to have been national embarrassment) had the fortitude to do as the Lord commanded.
With regard to the people of Israel, we look to Leviticus 24. This chapter records a murder7 during which the assailant, overheard by witnesses, uttered a piercing statement declaring God worthless8. Recorded next is that the people relied upon God for guidance and the fortitude to remove the sin via execution. In what was sure to be an emotional upheaval, we see that the people did as the Lord commanded.
Leviticus shows that God’s chosen leader, God’s priests and God’s people all did as the Lord commanded. While the New Testament does not sanction execution for sinners, we can still learn that (whether a leader or follower) God expects His people to do as He has commanded.
1 Leviticus 8.4, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29; 9.7, 10; 10.15; 16.34; 24.23
2 Aaron – Leviticus 8.2
3 Nadab, Abihu – Leviticus 10.1
4 Eleasar, and Ithamar – Leviticus 10.6
5 Leviticus 9.7, 10, 16.34 cf. 16.1 and 10.1-20
6 Leviticus 10.1-20, especially vv. 1-2
7 Strove (KJV) is translated as fought (NKJV) and struggled (NASB) but also means “make desolate, fall in ruins” death is the desolation of the individual and fits the context of Leviticus 24.10-23, cf. Exodus 21.12; 22.28
8 The Pentateuch, James E. Smith; defining the KJV translation of blasphemed and cursed; p. 394