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 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 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, “So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord commanded through Moses.”
Then we come to Leviticus 10:1-3 “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 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.
Remember, in the letter of James we are learning how to live lives of everyday worship. James is telling us how to live every day facing God. As he comes to the 4th chapter he is telling us about living in an intimate relationship with God, and not being adulterous.
If you have your bible, open up to James 4. (Note all the issues going on in 1-5)
- Read verses 6-10 (Highlighting v. 10)
James warns us not to forget about God and the way he told us to live, even the way he modeled for us to live. If Christians aren’t careful we can slip into living as if God doesn’t even matter. Now in verses 11-16 James gives us 2 examples of ways that people get a little cocky about the way they live. Notice the 2 examples he gives.
Text: James 4:11-16
1. Assume authority to judge. (vv. 11-12)
One time Jesus was asked by an expert in the law what was the foundational commandment in God’s law. You might remember what He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”