In the books of Exodus, Leviticus & Numbers, Nadab (“Generous/Giving”) & Abihu (“Yahweh is My Father”) were the first and second sons of Aaron. They offered a sacrifice with “unauthorized fire” before the Lord, disobeying His instructions. They were immediately consumed by God’s fire. The rest of the priests were commanded not to mourn for them, but the people at large were allowed to.
Nadab & Abihu had quite a pedigree: sons of the high priest, Aaron, and in line to take his place; nephews of Moses, the great leader who had conversations with God; part of God’s covenant people, Israel; set aside for ministry as priests. Yet, despite all of that, Nadab & Abihu disobeyed God in a very public way. And their sin cost them their lives.
Some interpret their sin to the possibility they brought unconsecrated coals from somewhere else to burn on God’s altar. But, whatever the particulars, their behavior was brazenly wrong enough to warrant immediate, deadly discipline from God.
Their deaths remind us: It is not enough to know what to do, we must also do what we know!
Are you ignoring certain commands of God? Is your obedience selective?
If so, your actions (or inaction) may bring serious consequences!
* Being familiar with the truth is not the same as being faithful to the truth!
As Aaron’s first-born son, Nadab witnessed the plagues in Egypt, saw God’s people delivered through the Red Sea, and enjoyed the daily manna delivered in the Hebrew camp. He tasted the waters of Marah & Elam, saw water flow from a rock, and probably saw for himself the tablets with the 10 Commandments etched in them. Being the son of Aaron, and the nephew of Moses, had its privileges; Nadab had a front-row seat to many of God’s miraculous displays of power.
Nadab also became one of Israel’s first priests… a position he qualified for because he was his father’s son.
But, pedigree and position did not spare Nadab and his brother from God’s judgment when they made an offering to God that did not meet God’s holy standards. Nadab and his brother were instantly killed, providing the people with a powerful reminder that God’s holiness is not to be taken lightly… by ANYONE!
You can read Nadab’s (& Abihu’s) story in Exodus 24 & Leviticus 10.