October 10, 2016
Leviticus 10:1, 2
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We could spend a year on the meaning of the tabernacle in Exodus, chapters 35 through 40. And in another year we might examining all the laws given in Leviticus. But there are certain incidents recorded in the journey From Egypt to Canaan on which I want to concentrate. The next one in found in Leviticus 10:1 and 2:
Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put
fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD,
which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD
and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
In the preceding chapters or Exodus and Levitcus, the laws of all the different offerings were given, the tabernacle was erected, and all its related furnishings and articles were put in their proper place. Aaron, the designated High Priest, and his sons, the assistant priests, were all bathed and properly robed, anointed with sacred oil and sprinkled with consecrating blood. The priests were instructed to reside in the tabernacle for seven days, and that had just been completed.
Chapter 9 of Leviticus begins: “It came to pass on the eighth day….” On that eighth day, sin and peace offerings were presented on the altar, and Moses told Aaron, “…the glory of the LORD will appear to you.” (Leviticus 9:6). Indeed, the glory of God did appear – for it says in Leviticus 9:24: “…fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” That’s when “…Nadab and Abihu…offered…fire before the LORD….” Why did God kill them? Weren’t they just trying to honor the LORD?
They may have thought they were honoring God, but they were trying to do it their way, and not God’s way! What was their way?
• It is implied by Leviticus 10:8 and 9 that Nadab and Abihu may have been drunk! For in that verse God told Aaron, “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you or your sons…when you go into the tabernacle…lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.” If they were intoxicated, they would not be thinking with clear minds! Did not Paul write in Ephesians 5:18, “…do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Holy Spirit…”? We are also told in Proverbs 31:4 and 5:
It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes intoxicating drink [or, by
implication, for anyone else in a position of leadership]; lest they drink
and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
If Nadab and Abihu were drunk, God was saying, “Don’t ever let that happen again!”
• These two priest were intruding their own will, their own ideas of worshiping God, into what He had already revealed!
✡ …in the matter of timing – Nadab and Abihu were appointed priests under the direction of the High Priest, Aaron, their father, and their uncle, Moses. It was the prerogative of these latter two men, having received their instructions from God Himself, to tell those serving under them when and what to do! But these two elder sons of Aaron acted on their own!
✡ …in the manner of how they acted – It seems that Nadab and Abihu were caught up in the intensity of the moment. We saw above in Leviticus 9:24, that when “…fire came out from before the Lord…the people…shouted and fell on their faces.” It was intense! And the two priests probably felt they should do…….something!
There are instances – and we hear on the news reports – of crowds turning into mobs and committing acts of vandalism and violence . Yet, these perpetrators might never step out of line when by themselves. Crowd psychology can certainly influence the actions of people – especially if intoxication is involved!
✡ …in the that it is called “…profane fire…” (Leviticus 10:1). Anything other than what God has commanded is considered by Him as profane! Here is what Adam Clark in his commentary wrote concerning this incident:
Every part of the religion of God is divine. He alone knew what he designed
by its rites and ceremonies, for that which they prefigured – the whole econo-
my of redemption by Christ – was conceived in his own mind, and was out of
the reach of human wisdom and conjecture. He therefore who altered any
part of this representative system, who omitted or added any thing, assumed
a prerogative which belonged to God alone, and was certainly guilty of a very
high offense against the wisdom, justice, and righteousness of his Maker. This
appears to have been the sin of Nadab and Abihu, and this at once shows the
reason why they were so severely punished. The most awful judgments are
threatened against those who either add to, or take away from, the declara-
tions of God.
It is God’s way or no way! (See John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12).