The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the Lord, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel. (Numbers 16:38)
It is interesting that things that may have been considered unclean before — in this case the censers of the 250 rebel leaders — once consecrated, are regarded as holy and can never be used for any other purpose. At the cost of their lives, they approached the LORD and were consumed by fire, but because these fire pans were presented unto the LORD they became set apart – and a sign to future generations. They served as a reminder that if one is going to approach the LORD, it must not be with pride and rebellion in their hearts, but humility.
This story, therefore, has a twofold message for us: first of all, we should never think it’s a good idea to “approach” the King of the Universe with pride or a rebellious spirit and think things will turn out alright. When the writer of Hebrews says that we can “boldly approach the Throne of Grace,” we should not think that we are encouraged to do so with arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Instead, consider how Esther approached the king of Persia unannounced — boldly, yes, but with great respect and humility. Accordingly, she was shown favor.
Secondly, we must always keep in mind that, though we were once “unclean,” having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, we have been made clean and have been consecrated unto God. In other words, we are regarded as “holy unto the LORD,” and as such, are not to be used for any other purpose. We are a holy people called to be a sign to others who may wish to come out of darkness into the marvelous light. Therefore, let us not engage in words and deeds that contradict that call, but in all things, walk circumspectly and in wisdom remembering that the days are evil and we are, in Messiah, a holy people.
Blessings and Shalom,