As we begin reading Leviticus chapter 10, we are startled by the sudden turn of events that has happened among the priestly leadership of Israel. Immediately after assuming the priestly ministry, Nadab and Abihu - the two sons of Aaron the High Priest – each took his censer, put fire and incense in it, and offered ‘profane’ fire before the Lord which God had NOT commanded them. Immediately, there was a swift punishment from God through fire which ‘devoured them and they died before the Lord’ (Lev. 10:1-2).
This incident reminds me about the swift judgment of God against Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 due to which they died too suddenly for ‘lying to God’ (v. 4b). This was shortly after the glorious experience of the 120 disciples through the baptism of the Holy Spirit who came down as ‘divided tongues of fire’ (Acts 2:3). In the case of Nadab and Abihu, God told very clearly through Moses the three reasons why He imposed the ‘death penalty’ upon the priests of God:
- They offered ‘profane’ fire before the Lord which God had NOT commanded them. (Lev. 10:1)
- They did NOT regard God and His Tabernacle as ‘holy’ (Lev. 10:3a)
- They did NOT give glory to God before the people (Lev. 10:3b)
Let’s always remember this: Our God is a ‘Consuming Fire’ (Hebrews 12:29)