The Sin of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3) (Part 1)

The Statement

In the O.T., God repeatedly judged an Individual or the Nation of Israel who failed to Worship Him according to His Word. The Nation of Israel failed corporately (“Great Sin” – Exodus 32:21, 30, 31) when the Nation worshipped “the golden calf” – (Exodus 32). Moses’ intervention (Exodus 32:11-14, 31-32) resulted in God mercifully mitigated His initial Righteous Anger without destroying the whole Nation (Exodus 32:14). The sin of Nadab and Abihu was a stark reminder of how God feels about false Worship.

The Background

Throughout Leviticus chapters 1 to 9, God’s prescriptions and regulations for the Priesthood in Israel were quite detailed; expectations were very clear. Up to Leviticus chapter 9, Moses was the Person who offered sacrifices unto the LORD.  This responsibility was handed over to Aaron and his sons in Leviticus Chapter 9:

  1. Leviticus Chapter 9 recorded the first day of Aaron and his sons’ Priestly Ministry.
  2. Aaron has offered the sacrifices and blessed the people (Leviticus 9:22). He entered the Holy Place with Moses and returned to where the People have been standing in expectation – Leviticus 9:23 (KJV) “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.”
  3. God showed His approval and His confirmation of Aaron’s Priestly Ministry by consuming the sacrifices – Leviticus 9:24 (KJV) “And there came a fire out from before the LORD and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, which, when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
  4. Nadab and Abihu were the eldest sons of Aaron, they were not Outsiders, and as such were highly respected and honoured in Israel.
  5. Nadab and Abihu were Anointed Priests and singled out to join Moses and Aaron on Mount Sinai who has seen God on the Mountain – Exodus 24:1(KJV) “And He (the LORD) said unto Moses, come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship afar off.”
  6. God specifically selected them to be major Leaders of the Israelite Priesthood – Exodus 28:1 (KJV) “And take thou unto thee Aaron, thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto Me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons,” and they have been installed into the Priest’s Office (Leviticus 9:1-24).
  7. Aaron, the High Priest, was the father of Nadab and Abihu. They were trained in the Service of the Lord:
    • Nadab and Abihu were to lead the Congregation in the Worship of Jehovah (the LORD).
    • Nadab and Abihu were trained to distinguish the sacred from the profane.
    • Yet Nadab and Abihu were killed for their “Sin of Presumption!” It was a serious thing to be God’s Servant, in those days.

      Service unto the God the Father and the Lord Jesus must be empowered by His Spirit and controlled by His Word, serving Him “acceptably with reverence and godly fear for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29, KJV).
  8. Nadab and Abihu appeared to be exalted from the events of the day (Leviticus Chapter 9), in which both have played a prominent part, a part felt bound, when God’s Fire came forth from the LORD, and the people shouted and fell on their faces (Leviticus 9:24b).
  9. Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Leviticus 9:23a) and must have parted from them (Nadab and Abihu). Nadab and Abihu were now facing the people and appeared to have regarded themselves as the Representative of the People.
  10. Without waiting for instruction, Nadab and Abihu rose from their prostration, and, preparing to make a return to God for His Gift of Fire by the offering of incense symbolical of Worship/Prayer (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3-4).  
    • Nadab and Abihu lit their censers from one of the fires (“strange fire,” KJV – “unauthorized fire,” NIV) which has been made for boiling the sacrificial flesh and not the fire from the Brazen Altar.
    • Putting incense in them, started forward, with the intention of carrying the burning incense to the “Golden Altar” of Incense in the Holy Place.
    • Nadab and Abihu reached the door of the Tabernacle, where Moses and Aaron were standing, when they met by a blast from the Fire of God which has already on the Brazen Altar, and they (Nadab & Abihu) fell dead. They had acted presumptuously.
  11. Nadab and Abihu have not waited for the Divine Command, but, in their haste, they have irreverently broken the LORD’s Commandment (Leviticus 10:1b); they took the fire, not from the Brazen Altar, but the fire used to boil the sacrificial meat (“strange-fire”).
  12. Nadab and Abihu have, with whatever good intentions done, what God has not commanded, and in doing what God has not commanded (Leviticus 10:1b), and in doing it has done what God has forbidden.
  13. The day had not yet closed when Nadab and Abihu committed the rash act that changed the day of rejoicing into a day of mourning.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

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