"THE SIN OF NADAB AND ABIHU" Leviticus 9:22-10:7 INTRODUCTION 1. The O.T. is of great value to the Christian... a. Written for our learning, a great source of hope - Ro 15:4 b. Written for our admonition, that we might not make similar mistakes - 1 Co 10:11 2. This includes even the book of LEVITICUS... a. A dry book to many, but of value to all b. Its name is derived from LEVI, from which tribe came the priests c. It is primarily a handbook for priests under the Law of Moses d. Reading it helps the Christian to better understand The Book Of Hebrews 3. Though primarily a book outlining priestly rituals, it does record an incident involving two sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu a. What happened to them can provide valuable lessons for us b. What did happen and what we can learn from it will serve as the basis for this study [Let's begin by reading about... I. THE INCIDENT INVOLVING NADAB AND ABIHU A. CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO THEIR ACTIONS... 1. The consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests had just been completed - Lev 8-9 2. In Lev 9:22-24 , the glory of the Lord appeared when Aaron blessed the people a. Fire came out from before the Lord b. The fire consumed the fat on the altar c. The people shouted and fell on their face B. THE PROFANE FIRE OFFERED BY NADAB AND ABIHU... 1. They offered a fire not commanded by the Lord - Lev 10:1 a. It is called a "strange" fire (cf. KJV, NASB) b. The NIV translates it as "unauthorized" fire -- It is important to note is that it was something the Lord had not commanded! 2. Fire went out from the Lord and devoured them - Lev 10:2 a. Compare the fire of Lev 9:24 with that of Lev 10:2 1) The one indicated God's acceptance; the other, God's rejection 2) The one indicated God's blessing; the other, God's curse b. Why was God displeased? Several explanations have been offered: 1) They put hot coals in their censers which were not from the altar of burnt offering - cf. Lev 16:12 ; Exo 30:9 2) The prohibition against intoxicating drinks which followed lead some to believe they may have been drunk - cf. Lev 10:8-10 3) Their attempt to enter the Holy Place at an inappropriate time - cf. Lev 16:1-2 -- Their sin may have been a combination of these things, but verse one notes that it was doing that which God had not commanded C. MOSES' EXPLANATION FOR WHAT HAPPENED... 1. Those who approach God must regard Him as "holy" - Lev 10:3 a a. "Holy" means "to set apart, consecrated"; i.e., to treat as special b. Evidently the actions of Nadab and Abihu did not so respect God 2. God must be "glorified" before all - Lev 10:3 b a. This word means "to honor" b. The actions of Nadab and Abihu therefore did not honor God D. MOSES' FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS... 1. Nadab & Abihu's bodies to be removed outside the camp - Lev 10:4-5 2. Aaron and his surviving sons were not to grieve while still consecrated for service - Lev 10:6-7 [It must have been very difficult for Aaron to lose his two sons in this way, on an occasion that should have been a time of great rejoicing for him. Since these things were written for our admonition (1 Co 10:11 ), what lessons might there be for us...?] II. LESSONS TO BE GLEANED FROM THIS INCIDENT A. REGARDING THE WORSHIP OF GOD... 1. When we approach God in worship, we must do only what He has commanded a. This was the mistake made by Nadab and Abihu - Lev 10:1 b. When we offer something God has not commanded... 1) We do not regard Him as holy - Lev 10:3 2) We do not truly glorify Him - Lev 10:3 2. If God is holy and truly worthy of glory... a. How can sinful man know what God desires as acceptable worship? b. Can sinful man read the mind of God? 1) If so, then God is not all that holy (i.e., set apart)! 2) If so, then God is not all that different from man and therefore not worthy of glory! c. Indeed, man cannot know without Divine revelation how God ought to be worshipped and glorified - cf. Isa 55:8-9 3. This is one reason why I choose not to use mechanical instruments in worship a. In the New Testament, only singing is specified - e.g., Ep 5:19 ; Co 3:16 1) To offer praise with mechanical instruments... a) Would be something God has not commanded b) Would be presumptuous on our part 2) To do so would be trying to second-guess God a) If God wanted such, He would have told us b) Since He didn't, we respect Him by offering only what He commands b. What about God's approval of mechanical instruments in the Old Testament? 1) Here we can learn from the example of Moses a) At one time, God told him to strike the rock to obtain water - Exo 17:6 b) Later, God told him to speak to the rock - Num 20:8 c) When Moses did the second time what God said to do the first time... 1/ He failed to "hallow" (show reverence) God - Num 20:11-12 2/ He lost the right to enter the Promised Land - Num 20:12 ; Deu 32:51 2) What can we learn from the example of Moses? a) We must do what God has revealed for the time appropriate for us b) God may have approved of instrumental music in the past, but He simply commands singing in the NT c) We cannot say, "But God allowed it in the OT!" B. REGARDING THE PRIORITY OF GOD... 1. Service to the Lord comes before service to the family a. This we learn when Aaron was not allowed to grieve for his sons 1) It was necessary for others to take the bodies out of the camp - Lev 10:4-5 2) Aaron had been consecrated, and service to the Lord came first - Lev 10:6-7 b. Jesus made a similar point on several occasions 1) As He was calling people to follow Him - Lk 9:59-62 2) As He addressed the multitudes following Him - Lk 14: 25-33 3) As He prepared His disciples for their work - Mt 10: 34-37 2. When a conflict arises between service to the Lord and commitment to the family, Christ must come first! a. E.g., obeying the gospel despite the objection of family members b. E.g., putting the assemblies of the Lord's church first when company comes 1) This does not require that we be rude to our guests 2) Have them make themselves at home until you return -- This is what it means to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" - Mt 6:33 CONCLUSION 1. It is very easy for us to become complacent in our service to God a. When this happens, it shows in our worship and service to the Lord b. Rather than regard Him as Holy and glorify Him as He deserves... 1) ...by doing exactly as He commands 2) ...we begin to offer in worship HOW we want and WHEN we want c. Thus our worship is one of convenience rather of conviction! 2. We need to be reminded of incidents like that which happened to Nadab and Abihu... a. To humble us in the presence of God b. To remind us of the seriousness of serving God Do we regard God as holy, and properly glorify Him in our service to Him? Do we serve Him first? Even above those closest to us? May the example of Nadab and Abihu encourage us to do that which honors God!