Another Look at Nadab and Abihu
A new religion for the Jewish nation was revealed at Mt. Sinai. It was so different from the way men had worshiped and served God for thousands of years. There had been no written law for men, but now commandments and statutes were revealed through Moses. There had been no national priesthood, no temple, no annual feasts, no place worthy of the title, the most holy place. It was all changing.
Read the closing chapters of Exodus and the beginning chapters of Leviticus together. There is a continuous historical record of what transpired. Those Jews stayed at that mountain for a year, and during that time, the tabernacle with its altars, candlestick, priestly robes, the table of showbread and the golden ark of the covenant was made.
At the end of that year, Moses took all of their efforts and assembled the tent of worship. God had given Moses the blueprint for every detail and was told by God, “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Ex. 25:9). The last two chapters of Exodus describe Moses’ action as he erected the tabernacle. He did what God said. The expression “as the Lord commanded” is found nineteen times!
The book of Leviticus continues with a description of the consecration of Aaron and his sons. The expression “as the Lord commanded” (in some form or another) is found another sixteen times! There was God’s pattern, and at least thirty times it is affirmed the pattern was precisely followed.
What can so easily be overlooked is what happened when the first-time priests prepared to enter the holy place to burn incense. The tabernacle was completed, and for the first time, priests were about to enter the holy place to burn incense. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took their censers and “… put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1). What a contrast. Moses had done what God commanded, and these two men do not do what God commanded. How did God react? “Fire went out from the Lord and devoured them.” God’s pattern must be followed!
God gave the pattern, and nothing was to be changed in it. It was not that God had specifically forbidden taking fire from any place other than the golden altar. God did not need to tell them not to do it. He specifically gave them the pattern. That was enough. Follow it or come under His judgment.
We also have a pattern in the New Testament and cannot change it. We do not need a specific command that says, “Thou shall not,” when God has specifically said, “Thou shalt.” Just do what He says!