January 5, 2023
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them...”
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“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them to do. Then flames leaped from the Lord’s presence and burned them to death before the Lord. So Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord meant when He said: “I will show My holiness to those who are near me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people.’ But Aaron kept silent.” Leviticus 10:1- 3
“Do not boast to yourself of tomorrow, for you never know what circumstances a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1
Several summers ago, my son Wyatt and I went surfing in Newport Beach, CA. I had tagged along on his Christian school’s 6th-grade beach trip. There was a bunch of us! I recall there were over 60 kids, plus several adult/parent chaperones. Next to us, camped out on the beach, was an African family. They were missionaries to the US from Kenya, and because they were also believers in Jesus, we hung out with them all day. Our kids played on the beach with their kids—one in Messiah.
Toward the end of the day, there was a commotion. Everyone was cleared from the water. Someone was in trouble. I ran towards the water’s edge and arrived at the shoreline just as two lifeguards dragged the African father onto the beach. After a frantic fight for the man’s life, it became apparent that he could not be revived. One moment, he was playing on the beach with his family and our students. The next moment, he was lying on that same beach, lifeless. Life can change abruptly for us all.
This was Aaron’s experience. As he, the High Priest, was moving about in his magnificent robes and performing the solemn duties of his exalted office, how elated he must have been! But what began as Aaron’s greatest day ended tragically. On the very day of the Tabernacle’s consecration, Aaron’s sons traded God’s calling for a momentary whim. Scripture does not indicate whether Nadab & Abihu consulted Moses or Aaron, so some scholars believe the boys disregarded their elders out of jealousy. They didn’t trust that God was speaking to Israel directly through Moses. Perhaps, they asked themselves, “When will these men die? How long must we wait before we get to lead the congregation on our terms?” Who knows? The end came so quickly that they could not testify their motives.
One thing is sure; impious ambition led them to depart from God’s Word and commit an unhallowed action. This departure called down terrible retribution in a lightning flash!
It is incumbent upon us to seek God’s Word and not turn from it to the right or the left. We should take Scripture as it is and not live our lives more conservatively or liberally than the Lord requires.
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