Summary: Nadab & Abihu serve as examples of what happens when we trivialize God and begin to live as if God doesn’t matter. Thank God for the grace that saves us from the consequences of our sin.
The story of Nadab and Abihu is not one of the most prominent in the Bible.
- Unlike Samson last week, not one of those commonly taught in Sunday School.
- Not in many people’s top 10 list.
Some are probably thinking “Nadab & Abi-who?”
The Hebrews had just been led out of Egypt. They had followed God across the Red Sea and then watched as Pharoah’s army were buried under the crumbling walls of water. The whole nation assembled at Mt. Sinai as God initiated a covenant with them, marking them as His people. As the covenant was finalized, God commanded the leaders of His people to meet with Him on the Mountain. Listen to Exodus 24:9-11 (quickview)  9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, b clear as the sky itself. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank….
Wow! Did you notice what a privilege these people had? Moses, God’s chosen leader, Aaron, God’s chosen High Priest, Nadab & Abihu Aaron’s two oldest sons, and 70 elders got to see God in His Heavenly glory. Less than 100 of all the billions of people ever to walk the earth have that privilege. Adam did prior to the fall, Elijah did, John did, and Nadab and Abihu were among that select group.
All seems to go well. In Leviticus 8 (quickview)  God ordains Aaron as the first High Priest, and his sons as priests. Nadab was to be the successor to Aaron’s position. God prescribes a very detailed ritual, and we read in Leviticus 8:36 (quickview) , “So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded through Moses.”
Then we come to Leviticus 10:1-3 (quickview)  “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. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will show myself holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’”
Aaron remained silent.”(Pause)
What a shock! Here are two of the Lord’s anointed, heirs to the High Priestly position who are destroyed because they didn’t meticulously follow the prescribed way for a priest to light a fire. Two lives that held such great promise, (snap) snuffed out in an instant. Nobody knows for sure why they did it, but there is one thing you can guess. Evidently they took God for granted. They didn’t think it was all that important and they weren’t careful enough in the way they came before God. In an instant they became a lesson on God’s holiness for all the world to see. When you get over to Numbers 3:2-4 (quickview)  you read 2 The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 3 Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. 4 Nadab and Abihu, however, fell dead before the LORD when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons; so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.