Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” So Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3)
The Little Things Matter
Growing up with a famous uncle should have had a great impact on the lives of two young boys. Born into a land of harsh bondage in the land of Egypt, Nadab and Abihu experienced the deprivations and severity of the Egyptian taskmasters as they forced the Hebrews to make bricks and toil in the fields. They had heard of their uncle who had been raised in the house of Pharaoh but fled when the king learned his adopted son killed an Egyptian. After forty years, Moses returned and challenged Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. After a series of incredible plagues that crippled the Egyptian nation and the final blow of a night of widespread death, Nadab and Abihu left Egypt along with nearly two million souls bound for a land of promise. The sons of Aaron saw their father ascend with Moses into that terrible mountain filled with fire, blackness and darkness and tempest and the sound as if it were a trumpet. It was so frightening the people begged for it to end.
During the long stay of Moses on the mountain, Nadab and Abihu saw their father yield to the cravings of the people who demanded gods to worship. Aaron told the people to bring gold to him and he fashioned a molded calf and an altar with a great feast of celebration. The people rose early in the morning offering burnt offerings and peace offerings to the golden calf and worshipped the idol as the god who delivered them from the land of Egypt. Their father Aaron did not restrain the people from all of their carnal desires. Suddenly, Moses appeared filled with wrath and anger. He took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder. Scattering the dust on the water, Moses demanded the people to drink. Moses publicly rebuked Aaron for his failed leadership. He then commanded the sons of Levi to kill those who refused to refrain from idolatry. At the end of the day, three thousand Hebrews were dead. Nadab and Abihu saw the penalty for disobeying the word of the Lord.
As priests, Nadab and Abihu learned the law concerning the regulations of worship. They were trained in the requirements of offerings, sacrifices, and rituals in the law of Moses. The garments worn by Nadab and Abihu were exquisite in detail artistically woven of fine linen. Attention to detail was in everything the sons of Aaron were commanded to do.
The Law of Moses was written with expectations of obedience on every page. Aaron and his sons were consecrated before the people as priests. Eight days following their consecration, the Lord demanded a sin offering and a burnt offering. After making the sacrifice, Moses and Aaron went into Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground. Then Nadab and Abihu offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded. Fire went out from the Lord and consumed Nadab and Abihu and they died before the Lord. They failed to respect the holiness of the Lord God as those allowed to come near Him and to glorify God.
Having Moses as their uncle did not save them. Being the sons of Aaron the High Priest did not protect them. Nadab and Abihu received the wrath of the Lord because they failed to consider the little things. They took their censers and put fire and incense which the Lord had not commanded and paid the price of rebellion with their lives. Everything matters to God and many times the little things are ignored by those who fail to honor the Lord with respect. Many in the religious world practice the doctrine of Nadab and Abihu when they fail to teach the little things of God’s word. The word of God is not respected as the authority. Worship is not designed according to the New Testament pattern. The organization of the body of Christ is filled with human wisdom. The little things matter to God. One of the greatest lies taught by the religious world today is salvation by faith only with a refusal to accept baptism as necessary for salvation. Faith is necessary and so is the washing away of sins in the waters of baptism. A little thing? You decide.