From Eternity Past


Chapter 31—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 to their sacred office. These services occupied seven days; 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 remarkable manner—fire came and consumed the offering upon the altar. The people raised a universal shout of praise and adoration and fell on their faces. EP 251.1

But soon afterward a terrible calamity fell upon the family of the high priest. Two of the sons of Aaron took each his censer and burned fragrant incense before the Lord. But they transgressed His command by the use of “strange fire.” They took common instead of the sacred fire which God Himself had kindled. For this sin, fire from the Lord devoured them in the sight of the people. EP 251.2

Next to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu had stood highest in Israel. They had been especially honored by the Lord, having been permitted with the seventy elders to behold His glory in the mount. All this rendered their sin more grievous. Because men have received great light, because they have, like the princes of Israel, ascended to the mount and been privileged to have communion with God in the light of His glory, let them not flatter themselves that they can sin with impunity, that God will not be strict to punish their iniquity. Great privileges require virtue and holiness corresponding to the light given. Great blessings never give license to sin. EP 251.3

Nadab and Abihu had not been trained to habits of self-control. The father's yielding disposition had led him to neglect the discipline of his children. His sons had been permitted to follow inclination. Habits of self-indulgence obtained a hold upon them which even the responsibility of the most sacred office had not power to break. They did not realize the necessity of exact obedience to the requirements of God. Aaron's mistaken indulgence of his sons prepared them to become the subjects of divine judgment. EP 252.1