-The sin of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, kicks off the tenth chapter. They were condemned and burned to death for offering “strange fire” (zuwr- strange, forbidden, unlawful, completely different) before the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-2). The point was that those who come near the holy God must be holy and follow exactly what He commanded of them. No imperfections were allowed to enter His presence. God cannot stand for sin or doing things in a profane way. “Before all the people I will be honored” God says (Leviticus 10:3b). Aaron’s response was silence in the presence of God’s all-consuming fire. Moses was able to speak and called the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, Mishael and Elzaphan, to carry their relatives outside the camp. Further, Moses commanded to Aaron and his remaining sons that they not uncover (or unbind) their heads nor tear their clothes in mourning. Otherwise, they would also die and the whole congregation be punished in the wrath of Almighty God (Leviticus 10:6). They were warned not to leave from the doorway of the tent of meeting; else, they would perish for the LORD’s anointing oil was upon them. Thankfully, they obeyed the commands of the LORD and things settled into a conversation between God and Aaron. When the LORD spoke to His priest, He commanded him, along with his sons, as a perpetual statute not to drink wine or strong drink. This was for the purpose of them not dying and to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, the clean and the unclean. They were also instructed to teach these statutes which the LORD spoke through Moses (Leviticus 10:7-10). Finally, Moses spoke again to Aaron again and had him and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, take the grain offering that was left over from the LORD’s offerings by fire and eat it unleavened by the most holy altar. It was their due out of the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the sons of Israel. Also, the thigh offered by lifting up and the breast offered by waving was to be brought along with the offerings by fire of the portions of fat was due them “just as the LORD has commanded (Leviticus 10:12-15).” Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering at this point discovering that it had been erroneously burned up, which made him angry with Aaron’s surviving sons. He was angry because this was a most holy offering that they did not eat according to the command of the LORD given to them as a ritual to bear away the guilt of the congregation, “to make atonement for them before the LORD (Leviticus 10:16-17).” The blood had not been brought inside to the sanctuary like it was supposed to be done and it should have been eaten in the sanctuary as Moses had commanded at the LORD’s direction. However, when Aaron spoke to Moses about the honest intentions of their efforts and the understandable fear that they had in the processes, Moses relented and what had been done “seemed good in his sight (Leviticus 10:18-20).” I believe Moses did this because he understood that the surviving sons were simply afraid and upset over what has just happened to their brothers, and that they were not trying to willingly disobey God.
-*Application* Until we come to the Father with the proper respect level, we should expect His justifiable wrath and judgment on the sin and uncleanness of our lives. Again we see here that God does not take disobedience in His presence lightly. We must be perfect to enter His throne of grace. How then can the New Testament writers speak of coming “with confidence” or “boldly” before Him in this way (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19 [NASB & KJV], 1 John 4:17)? The blood atonement of Jesus helps answer that question which is applied by the faith of the believer. We die to our sinful selves and live again in the resurrection power of the Christ who died in our place. God’s judgment was applied to His Son for our benefit. This is amazing grace and unsurpassed love demonstrated to relieve us of our unclean guilt and bring about our personal atonement (i.e.- forgiveness). By God’s grace and mercy alone are we saved! We don’t deserve it; we cannot earn it. It is a free gift of God (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). The obedience of trust then becomes our key point to consider in today’s meditation on God’s perfect and infallible Word from Leviticus 10.
Verse to Memorize: Leviticus 10:1-2