Aaron and his two sons were chosen by God to be priests. They were given special clothes and tasks in the tabernacle. After a seven day ordination they hold the first public service. There were sin offerings, burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, and wave offerings. The sacrifices were presented just as God directed. Moses and Aaron go into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people and something amazing happened – God’s glory shows up for everyone to see.
Leviticus 9:24 (NIV)
Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
This is a great service! This is what we long for each Sunday and every day that we come before the Lord. The launch service at the tabernacle was a huge success. Nadab and Abihu were rookie leaders in presiding over a service that God shows up. They grabbed their ceremonial vessels, put hot coals in them, added some incense to be burned in the vessels, got it burning and offered it to the LORD.
God had given detailed instruction about worship to Moses and Moses passed it on to Aaron, Nadab and Abihu. Nadab and Abihu broke protocol and what happened next was a powerful demonstration that made the people aware that they existed for God.
Leviticus 10:2-3 (NIV)
2 So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when He said:
“‘Among those who approach me
I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
I will be honored.’”
Aaron remained silent.
The launch service just took a serious turn. Soon the people would be holding their first funeral service as free people. The remaining times that Nadab and Abihu are mentioned in Scripture, two things are told: they offered unauthorized fire and they died without sons.
Sobering questions from that event:
> What am I doing that God has not given me permission to do?
> What am I doing that honors God by living as though He is very holy?