Sudden deaths in today's reading. And I'm not talking overtime in a hockey game.
Several years ago I read The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. For one year Jacobs took the Bible literally and lived by its every (feasible) command. Raised Jewish, Jacobs was nervous to dive into the New Testament because he was so unfamiliar with it, so it seemed mysterious and confusing. That is how I feel about the Old Testament.
Today for instance, when God consumes Aaron's two oldest sons. The newly anointed priests. Because they lit an "unauthorized fire." I read up on it a bit in Matthew Henry's Commentary, which eloquently explains why such drastic measures were taken. There are totally legit reasons, like: they did not have "orders to burn incense at all at this time."; they entered the tabernacle without permission; the pride of being a priest went to their heads; they took the incense without Moses' permission... you get the picture- they broke a lot of rules! It's just... such a harsh punishment!
But this is the Old Testament God. It was a different time. A time and culture I am so distanced from that there are times I have a hard time believing this is the same God I worship. But it is, and reading the Old Testament reminds me that God means what he says. It gives me a healthy respect for the Father. It makes me eternally thankful I live in a post-Jesus world.
My five year old asked me the other day, "Is there a New NEW Testament? You know, that comes after the New Testament?" Not yet! But we know the story isn't completely written yet. And someday we'll wonder how we managed in a world before Jesus' second coming; before the New New Testament.