Don’t Get Burned

Whitney Capps

Day: 13 | Plan: Leviticus-Hebrews

Today's Reading: Leviticus 10

Leviticus 10:1-2 (NIV) “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”

Leviticus 8 ends with this affirming verse, “So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses” (Leviticus 8:36).

Yet only a short time later, the fire of God’s judgment kills those same sons of Aaron for failing to follow God’s rules and honoring His holiness. 

Leviticus 10 says Nadab and Abihu put fire in their censers. Some scholars suggest that the sons may have used common fire as opposed to the holy fire sent by God. This would certainly reveal they lacked a proper reverence for God’s unique and holy flame. 

Perhaps the offense was that they offered the wrong recipe of incense. In Exodus 30:9 God warned Aaron of using common incense of the altar, “Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it.”

Based on the commentary of Leviticus 16:1-2, it’s possible that the sons went into the Most Holy Place. This area in the interior of the tabernacle was reserved only for the high priest and only on the Day of Atonement. They violated God’s restrictions and permissions for entering His presence.

While the exact details of the offense are unclear, God’s judgment is certain. He kills Nadab and Abihu. Their unauthorized fire elicits His authorized fire. 

What happened between Leviticus 8 where the sons were commended along with Aaron and the solemn circumstance of their deaths in Leviticus 10? How could they slip so far in such a short time? I don’t know for sure, but I think we can infer some conclusions about their hearts and ours.

After seeing God’s holy fire fall, perhaps the sons wanted to manipulate a similar show of God’s glory. Our faithfulness cannot manipulate God. We serve and obey God from a position of gratitude and love, not to highlight our holiness or earn His pleasure.

But this is a sobering reminder for all of us who seek to draw near to God; He has specific and righteous requirements for how we represent Him to others.

Perhaps they wrongly believed that after being set apart for God’s work in the priesthood, they could live like they wanted. Once we become the Lord’s, once we are made a part of His “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), our lives are not our own. We are bound out of love to serve, honor and obey Him. We will never be released from this glad obligation. 

Today’s passage teaches us to check our motives and methods of service. How and why we serve matters because Who we serve matters.  

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I don’t want to serve You without thinking about the serious and solemn work of worship. In all I do I want to reflect the holiness of Your character and respect the seriousness of sin. Help me to check my motives and methods before coming before You in service or worship. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

The Lord speaks to Moses about Nadab and Abihu’s offense. Moses tells Aaron that among all... Read More

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