1 ¶ And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
Strange is a word that can mean foreign or alien in the Bible. It is something other than what was commanded.
Exodus 30:9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.
A stranger is a foreigner or alien.
Genesis 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Genesis 17:12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
Genesis 23:4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
There are many other verses that underscore that to be strange is to be alien.
2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Under the Law, to the Hebrews, there was this fierceness about their relationship with God. Under grace, God does not send fire to strike us although we are often rebuked and chastised for our sins. Unfortunately, many Christian consciences are so seared they can’t understand or realize any lesson from their rebuke.
3 ¶ Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
God did not want mundane worship. An analogy today would be when carnal and worldly music is used in worship or psychology is used in Pastoral Counseling, as it has been since the 1920’s. Neither of these things are Biblical or of God. God has not called us to hip shaking flesh driven music in worship or for Freudian non-Biblical principles in counseling. We are not called to “shake our booty” and to think of fleshly things when worshipping our Lord but for praise and the glorifying of God. In counseling it is not about empowerment, self-esteem, or self-realization but obedience to Christ and to His words, the love for God, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Christians have been offering strange fire before the Lord for over a century and although we aren’t destroyed by fire our churches have lost their spiritual power and become clubhouses for the sedated, the self-righteous, or the malcontent.
4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.
5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.
6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.
7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.
Someone else is told later not to publicly mourn for a loved one because their death was a sign that the Lord wanted to manifest for the sake of people watching.
Ezekiel 24:16 Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.
It is Ezekiel’s wife who God takes from him in order to show Israel what they will lose.
Ezekiel 24:21 Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.
8 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,
9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Here is an important principle for the Christian. Aaron and his sons were not to enter into the Lord’s presence having drunk strong drink. We Christians, as a holy and royal priesthood, are always in the presence of the Lord, as unlike the Hebrews, each of us has God’s Spirit dwelling in us. So, should we not abstain from strong drink?
1Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
1Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
Now, we have established that each Christian is part of a royal priesthood and that they are always in God’s presence as their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are also each, in type, the nation of Israel as a whole so that we can read the Old Testament and see our own lives written out before us in the tragedy of the nation of Israel. We will fail in our sin but God will, in the end, redeem us. This is an important point, I think.
12 ¶ And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons that were left, Take the meat offering that remaineth of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar: for it is most holy:
13 And ye shall eat it in the holy place, because it is thy due, and thy sons’ due, of the sacrifices of the LORD made by fire: for so I am commanded.
Here is a principle that shows that those who are in full time service for the Lord are entitled to receive wages of that work. Although this is a highly misused and abused principle it is still true. Let us not forget, though, Paul’s labor as a tentmaker.
Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
14 And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons’ due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.
15 The heave shoulder and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons’ with thee, by a statute for ever; as the LORD hath commanded.
16 And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying,
17 Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?
18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded.
19 And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things have befallen me: and if I had eaten the sin offering to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD?
20 And when Moses heard that, he was content.
Here, Aaron reveals that the deaths of his sons have put him in fear and that he took responsibility in some form for their sin. Note the difference in his attitude with regard to the golden calf he produced for the Hebrews back in Exodus. This is proof that people can grow, learn, and change.
Exodus 32:24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.