Summary: Nadab and Abihu were destroyed by God because they offered an "authorized" fire before God. What had they done wrong and what can we learn from their mistake?
OPEN: Every year, someone hands out “Darwin Awards” which are bestowed to honor the least evolved among us. Previous news stories that have received their attention have been:
· The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine. Shortly afterward he submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company (suspecting negligence) sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger.
The chef’s claim was approved.
· A teenager was in a hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the boy told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.
· One Arkansas man apparently desperately wanted some beer. So he decided to throw a cinder block thru a liquor store window grab some booze, and then run for it. What he didn’t realize was that the window was made of plexiglass, and when he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window it bounced back and hit him on the head knocking him unconscious.
The whole event was caught on videotape.
· But one of the most “memorable” Darwin Awards honored a man from Provo, Utah. A robber pulled his 38 caliber revolver on his victim and pulled the trigger. But it failed to fire. So he peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again.
This time it worked.
APPLY: Sometimes people will do the most foolish things.
And when they do these foolish things - there is often a price to be paid.
1. Sometimes that price is embarrassment.
2. Sometimes it’s pain.
3. AND … sometimes that price can even be death.
The story we’re reading in Leviticus 10 tells us the story of two young men who did a very foolish thing and paid the ultimate price.
Their names were Nadab and Abihu
Nadab and Abihu were nephews of Moses and the two oldest sons of Moses’ brother Aaron the High Priest of Israel. They were born in Egypt and - by the time we read this story in Leviticus -were probably 20 or 30 yrs old.
They had been groomed for leadership ever since they had come to the Mountain of God. When Moses was about to go up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments, God declared:
“Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, NADAB AND ABIHU, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.” Exodus 24:1-2
Later God told Moses: "Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons NADAB AND ABIHU, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests.” Ex. 28:1
These two sons of Aaron were to be some of the most prominent leaders in Israel.
They were going to be entrusted with the holy things in the tabernacle and they were the ones who would offer up sacrifices on behalf of the people.
They became priests of the most high God.
They stood before the people as God’s most sacred servants.
(PAUSE) But something went wrong… and they died
Well Leviticus tells us: “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. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Leviticus 10:1-2
That’s all we’re told.
Nadab and Abihu offered an “unauthorized” fire before God… and God killed them.
And not only did God destroy them… verse 6 tells us:
“… Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the house of Israel, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire.” Leviticus 10:6
Again – what happened?
Why was God so angry with Nadab and Abihu, and why were Aaron and his remaining sons warned not to mourn their deaths?
Everything in the Tabernacle, and all of its activities, were specifically designed by God.
Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the “… sanctuary (was) a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’”
Everything in the Tabernacle was designed to tell us about Heaven’s plan for our salvation.