Beginning of the End


The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

This chapter is based on Leviticus 10:1-11.

After the dedication of the tabernacle, the priests were consecrated for their sacred work. These services lasted seven days, and on the eighth day Aaron offered the sacrifices that God required. All had been done as God commanded, and He revealed His glory in a dramatic way—fire came and burned up the offering on the altar. All together the people raised a shout of praise and worship and fell on their faces. BOE 175.1

But soon after this, a terrible tragedy happened to the family of Aaron, the high priest. Two of his sons each took his censer and burned fragrant incense before the Lord. But they disobeyed God’s command by using “profane fire.” They took common fire (lit by man)instead of the sacred fire that God Himself had provided. For this sin, fire from the Lord devoured them in the sight of the people. BOE 175.2

Next to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu had the highest position in Israel. They had been especially honored by the Lord, having been permitted with the seventy elders to see His glory on the mountain. All this made their sin more serious. If people have received great light, if like the princes of Israel they have ascended the mountain and been privileged to have communion with God in the light of His glory, they should not think that they can sin with no consequences, that God will not be strict to punish their wickedness. Great privileges require goodness and holiness that correspond to the light given. Great blessings never give permission to sin. BOE 175.3

Nadab and Abihu had not been trained to use self-control. Their father’s gentle disposition had led him to neglect to discipline his children. He had permitted his sons to follow whatever they wanted. Habits of self-indulgence became so powerful over them that even the responsibility of the most sacred work did not have power to break. They had not been taught to respect their father and they did not realize the need of exact obedience to the requirements of God. Aaron’s mistaken indulgence of his sons prepared them to become the receivers of divine judgment. BOE 175.4