Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, engage both my mind and heart as I study your Word today. Help me to discover truths that I have not seen before and to apply them to my walk with you.


The Death of Nadab and Abihu

10 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. Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:

“‘Among those who approach me
    I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
    I will be honored.’”

Aaron remained silent.

Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come here; carry your cousins outside the camp, away from the front of the sanctuary.” So they came and carried them, still in their tunics, outside the camp, as Moses ordered.

Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not let your hair become unkempt[a] 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 Israelites, may mourn for those the Lord has destroyed by fire. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting or you will die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is on you.” So they did as Moses said.

Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, 10 so that you can distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so you can teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord has given them through Moses.”

12 Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering left over from the food offerings prepared without yeast and presented to the Lord and eat it beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 Eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the food offerings presented to the Lord; for so I have been commanded. 14 But you and your sons and your daughters may eat the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. Eat them in a ceremonially clean place; they have been given to you and your children as your share of the Israelites’ fellowship offerings. 15 The thigh that was presented and the breast that was waved must be brought with the fat portions of the food offerings, to be waved before the Lord as a wave offering. This will be the perpetual share for you and your children, as the Lord has commanded.”

16 When Moses inquired about the goat of the sin offering[b] and found that it had been burned up, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and asked, 17 “Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the Lord. 18 Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”

19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” 20 When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.


  1. Leviticus 10:6 Or Do not uncover your heads
  2. Leviticus 10:16 Or purification offering; also in verses 17 and 19

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


In what ways is your prayer life impacted when you know you can approach God freely?

Think Further

One thing Nadab and Abihu could not plead is ignorance. By word and example, again and again, Moses had made it all too clear what God required of them as priests. Whatever got into them to lead them into such flagrant disobedience? Verse 9 makes us wonder— was it perhaps wine?

Based on passages such as this, some people make a false distinction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. They see an angry and vindictive God in the Old Testament but a loving and compassionate God in the New. The truth, however, is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The only difference is that, incrementally through the Bible, he gives us an ever-growing understanding of his ways in the process of progressive revelation. God did not take a light view of sin in the New Testament any more than he did in the Old. The fate of Nadab and Abihu here is no different from what befell Ananias and his wife Sapphira in the New Testament.1 Nor was he any less compassionate in the Old Testament than in the New, as demonstrated in his gracious dealing with Nineveh.2

Thankfully, the sort of instant judgment which Nadab and Abihu, and Ananias and Sapphira, experienced is not currently the norm. People do not fall down dead on account of their flippancy at the communion table. The God who is not willing that anyone should perish gives us more of an opportunity to repent.3 Surely, this is no license for taking for granted the holiness of God! We do not want to learn the hard way that now, as always, our ‘God is a consuming fire.’4


‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’5 How can this be a real danger for us and for our church today?

Closing prayer

Holy Spirit, help me not to yield to temptation, help me to stay focused on what you show me in Scripture, quick to stand firm in what you teach me.

Last Updated on January 27, 2024 by kingstar

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