This chapter of the Bible talks about some priests who were not really respectful in the presence of God. Here we will learn about these two priests, and how, from that point on, the priests were to act in the presence of the people and especially in the presence of God.
The Sin of Nadab and Abihu
10 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.
3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said,
‘I will display my holiness
through those who come near me.
I will display my glory
before all the people.’”
And Aaron was silent.
4 Then Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, Aaron’s cousins, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. He said to them, “Come forward and carry away the bodies of your relatives from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5 So they came forward and picked them up by their garments and carried them out of the camp, just as Moses had commanded.
6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not show grief by leaving your hair uncombed[a] or by tearing your clothes. If you do, you will die, and the Lord’s anger will strike the whole community of Israel. However, the rest of the Israelites, your relatives, may mourn because of the Lord’s fiery destruction of Nadab and Abihu. 7 But you must not leave the entrance of the Tabernacle[b] or you will die, for you have been anointed with the Lord’s anointing oil.” So they did as Moses commanded.
Instructions for Priestly Conduct
8 Then the Lord said to Aaron, 9 “You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle. If you do, you will die. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation. 10 You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common, between what is ceremonially unclean and what is clean. 11 And you must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord has given them through Moses.”
12 Then Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take what is left of the grain offering after a portion has been presented as a special gift to the Lord, and eat it beside the altar. Make sure it contains no yeast, for it is most holy. 13 You must eat it in a sacred place, for it has been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the special gifts presented to the Lord. These are the commands I have been given. 14 But the breast and thigh that were lifted up as a special offering may be eaten in any place that is ceremonially clean. These parts have been given to you and your descendants as your portion of the peace offerings presented by the people of Israel. 15 You must lift up the thigh and breast as a special offering to the Lord, along with the fat of the special gifts. These parts will belong to you and your descendants as your permanent right, just as the Lord has commanded.”
16 Moses then asked them what had happened to the goat of the sin offering. When he discovered it had been burned up, he became very angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons. 17 “Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sacred area?” he demanded. “It is a holy offering! The Lord has given it to you to remove the guilt of the community and to purify the people, making them right with the Lord.[c] 18 Since the animal’s blood was not brought into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the meat in the sacred area as I ordered you.”
19 Then Aaron answered Moses, “Today my sons presented both their sin offering and their burnt offering to the Lord. And yet this tragedy has happened to me. If I had eaten the people’s sin offering on such a tragic day as this, would the Lord have been pleased?” 20 And when Moses heard this, he was satisfied.
This chapter of the Bible it talks about when two of Aaron’s sons did not follow the directions of God. Going in the presence of the LORD was a serious thing to do—especially for the priests. As you read the instructions for the conduct of the priests, you’ll find that a priest was not to drink any wine or alcoholic drinks before going into the tabernacle, and that’s exactly what Nadad and Abihu did before going in. They also offered bad fire in the presents of God. Fires came down from heaven and destroyed these young people. They disobeyed God and disrespected Him in His presence. Due to these issues, the LORD spoke to Moses and gave him the instructions for the priestly conduct—God didn’t want the same thing to happen to other people.
The priests were to be in communion with God and were to be an example to the people of Israel in the desert where they had now made their new (temporary) home. In the same way, we (since 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are a royal priesthood) are to be an example to the people around us in our communities.
& Timmy Baze
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.