Leviticus 10:1 "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD."
There are several possibilities to explain why the incense of Aaron's two sons may have caused
the wrath of God to the extent of death. One is found in Exodus 19:22 in what God said at
Sinai, "And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest
the Lord break forth upon them." This theory is that Nadab and Abihu did not sanctify
themselves before offering incense. Another theory is found in Leviticus 16:12, "And he
shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his
hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil." This theory is
that Nadab and Abihu did not light their censor with coals of fire from the altar. Still
another theory is that the two brothers ventured beyond the veil into the holy place. Leviticus
16:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they
offered before the LORD, and died; 2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy
brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy
seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy
seat." God warned the people that the perfume used in the censers were peculiar only in
worship to Him. Another theory supposes that the incense they burned was not made just for
use in the tabernacle. And some believe that they did not follow the strict schedule in the
rituals of the offerings. I really think any of these theories makes a plausable reason for
what happened to Nadab and Abihu but what ever the reason, this is just one more instance which
proves that obedience is better than sacrifice!
Leviticus 10:6 "And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses. 8 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, 9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:"
There is still one more theory that Nadab and Abihu may have been drinking the night they died.
In verse 8 God instructed Aaron that if he or his sons drank any wine or strong drink when
they went into the tabernacle they would die. Aaron and his remaining two sons were not
allowed to mourn the loss of their loved ones. They were still set aside to be the mediator
between the people and God and therefore must continue in that office.
Leviticus 10:16 "And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying, 17 Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? 18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded. 19 And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things have befallen me: and if I had eaten the sin offering to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD? 20 And when Moses heard that, he was content."
We find in the remaining verses in this chapter that Aaron's remaining two sons did not carry out the ritual of eating the sin offering in the holy place and brought down Moses' wrath upon them. God had given it to them to bear the iniquity of the congregation and it was important that they eat it as they were commanded. Aaron's explanation is unclear. He may have been saying that after the death of his two sons he and his remaining sons had no appetite and could not eat the sin offering. And, then again, after what happened, they may have felt unworthy to eat the sin and burnt offerings. Which ever it was, it satisfied Moses and he let it go.
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