“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. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”
Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron. They had participated in the ceremony of consecration, and had dedicated themselves to the ministry of the priesthood ordained by the Lord. Yet, in this chapter there is an awesome display of the Lord’s chastening. Let us learn from this portion that we who are ordained to the priesthood of believers (which is all of us) must be careful as we serve the Lord.
These two sons of Aaron were redeemed by the blood of a substitute. They (along with all the children of Israel who had trusted their God and applied the blood) were on their way to the Promised Land. Nadab and Abihu were graciously and gloriously chosen to a wonderful ministry among the Israelites. In fact, they had purposed to fulfill their calling with singleness of heart and mind as the embarked upon their ministry in chapter nine. But something happened.
Consider their deed. It was a “good deed,” as some would view it – the offering of incense to their Lord (v.1). This act was one which testified of close communion with the God of Israel. There are many believers – even Bible-believing Christians – who are desirous of serving the Lord fully, but are offering “strange fire before the Lord.” What makes it so? Nadab and Abihu were rejected in their ministry because it was something “which [the Lord] commanded them not” (v.1). And today there are many “good works” performed in “Christian zeal” that are rejected by the Lord because He has not commanded it.
For most Bible-believers, it is not the spirit of rebellion against the clearly revealed will of God that needs to be addressed. We are more likely to think of some questionable means we may take to get people’s attention or use popular worldly music to reach our loved ones with the Gospel. A GOOD ministry must be defined by what the Word says is right, not by what the world says will draw a big crowd or will work.
The Lord told His people that He would be sanctified in those who approached to serve Him (v.3). It is paramount to consider the holiness of our God as we do that to which we are called in the local church. Only in that way will He be glorified. Although it is popular to devise “new methods” for reaching the world for Christ or building up believers in the Faith, our flesh driven ways are a reproach to the Name of Christ. Let us be careful as we serve our Savior. Our Lord has spoken. As Aaron did before Moses, let us hold our peace.