Nadab, Abihu, with Eleazar, Ithamar (and a Prize)

Nadab, Abihu, with Eleazar, Ithamar (and a Prize)

If my reading of the clues did not mislead me, Nadab and Abihu did not make a well-intended accidental mistake (which would make God look like a petty tyrant waiting to jump on our mistakes; not the God revealed in the rest of scripture at all). Instead, at the end of a week intended to make them holy, fit for service at the tabernacle, they got a little or a lot drunk, and decided to go into the holy of holies (God’s throne room); an action that would pollute the very space they were called to keep clean. So God stops them with fire that comes out (from the throne room? see 10:2,4) and fries them. In my experience this is where the sermons or Bible classes always stop, leaving us with only half of the truth.

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here is the rest of the story: The same day Nadab and Abihu died Moses spoke to Aaron and his surviving sons Eleazar and Ithamar, reminding them to eat the remainder of the people’s grain offering beside the altar. Moses also reminds them to share part of the Peace Offering (also called the Fellowship offering) with their families (10:14-15, see 9:21).

Now things get interesting. Remember the “just for an example” I mentioned in my last post? In Leviticus 6:24-26 an explicit rule from the Lord passes from Moses to Aaron and his sons: priests are to eat part of the sin offering that comes from the people (but not if it came from a priest, 6:30). Well, it just so happens that the priests offered this sacrifice from the people before Nadab and Abihu died (see 9:15).

So according to clear law, the priests were supposed to eat part of this sacrifice. Moses expects obedience when he checks with Aaron just to make sure they have done what they were supposed to do (10:16). And when Moses discovers that Aaron and his sons have deliberately broken this law – well, Moses goes ballistic. I like the way the CEV reconstructs Moses’ speech:

[Moses] became angry with Eleazar and Ithamar and said, “Why didn’t you eat the meat from this sacrifice in an acceptable place? It is very holy, and the Lord has given you this sacrifice to remove Israel’s sin and guilt. Whenever an animal’s blood isn’t brought into the sacred tent, I commanded you to eat its meat in an acceptable place, but you burned it instead.” (10:16-18)

Let’s pause a moment to take in what we discover here. The next time you play Bible trivia with friends ask them this question: which sons of Aaron broke a law explicitly given to them before Leviticus 10? The answer is not Nadab and Abihu, but Eleazar and Ithamar. So why doesn’t God roast them too? After all, if the lesson is don’t change a single thing in worship – they are guilty as, well, guilty as sin.

Aaron responds to Moses (staying with the CEV):

Today two of my sons offered the sacrifice for sin and the sacrifice to please the Lord, and look what has happened to me! Would the Lord have approved if I had eaten the sacrifice for sin? (10:19)

Exactly what Aaron means is not clear. It seems to be something like – “After everything that has happened today would the Lord really want us to sit down and eat luxurious meat? We just couldn’t do it.”

And Moses’s response? “When Moses heard that, he approved” (10:20). In other words, Moses said, “Yeah. Okay then.”

Now how in the world can we explain God’s response to Nadab and Abihu and Moses’s response (for God) to Eleazar and Ithamar? Would someone please explain to the rest of us why God kills the first two, but gives the others a hall pass? Seriously, would someone please explain? We are still playing for the “I (Still) Believe” book from Zondervan. The same rules apply as before:

  1. All answers must be posted as a comment to this post.

  2. If you do not want the book, please do not post an answer (and give away the answer).

  3. To qualify as a winner you must be registered as a subscriber (see front page of “Seasons” or email me to subscribe). I’m getting so mean L but hope you will want to subscribe so that you get immediate email alerts when new posts come to the blog (I’m trying to post fewer reminders on Facebook).

  4. Previous winners are not qualified to win.

  5. Sorry, but I can’t afford to send the book outside the USA.

The first answer to give a defendable answer (not necessarily my own) wins the book. Good Luck!

(PS - Due to required approval for first time posts, some posts may appear sooner than others. I will be away from my computer part of the day, unable to give immediate approval to every post. Nonetheless, the first qualifying submission - based on time stamp - will win.)

The Things that Make for Peace: Confession of Sin

The Things that Make for Peace: Confession of Sin

That’s What You Do in a Small Church

That’s What You Do in a Small Church