Summary of passage: Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire from the Lord for offering up unauthorized fire against the Lord’s commands. Their bodies were carried outside of camp. Moses said the priest may not mourn these two but the Israelites may.
8a) “They offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command” They were killed by God.
b) Part personal question. My answer: God honored the people when they worshipped correctly with His presence. He punished the people when they worshipped against His command. Worship is paramount to God and He expects to be obeyed explicitly not implicitly. God takes worship seriously as we are to do as well. God’s ways, not ours.
9a) Before the Lord, one is unworthy to speak words. There is nothing we can impart to God so why bother. Good lesson for all of us that sometimes silence is better than idle chatter.
b) Moses told what to do with the body and how to mourn properly so as not to offend the Lord. Mourning would have meant that God was wrong in what He did. He also told them not to leave the Tent of Meeting. He reminded them of God’s holiness.
Conclusions: Loved going to Lamentations and Amos. I love the book of Lamentations and it’s not studied enough. It is the book we should all turn to when a tragedy befalls us or a loved one as we see God’s justice and mercy and compassion clearly–and gives us hope when we cannot see (or we choose not to see) hope.
No matter how good we think we are we must remain grounded in God or we could fall off the wagon at any time just like Aaron’s sons here.
End Notes: Nadab and Abihu came in an unauthorized way with fire made by themselves and not God’s fire and perhaps even into the Most Holy of Holy Places. They may even have been killed in the Most Holy of Holies (“before the Lord” could mean this).
Fire judges and purifies and Satan himself will try to deceive us with fire (Revelation 13:13).
As priests, they are held to a higher standard. What Aaron did at Mount Sinai with the golden calf was worse than this offense. But that was before their consecration.
A CENSER is a vessel for burning incense swung in religious ceremonies amongst some religions such as Catholicism and others. This was holy incense used inappropriately by Nadab and Abihu with dire consequences.