Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3 ESV
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. Hebrews 7:26-28 ESV
The professor was giving a big test. If the students wanted to pass his class, they would have to pass the test. The test was to write an essay about life in the Bronze Age. One of the students wrote an essay about life in the Iron Age. His essay might have been good, but it wasn’t what the professor had asked for. When a professor gives a test, he is the one who makes the rules about what to write. The student failed the test and the class because he didn’t write about what the professor had asked for.
Nadab and Abihu had the incredible privilege of being priests of God for the people of Israel. They needed to offer the sacrifices and offerings that God required, not what they decided on for themselves. The Bible doesn’t tell us what kind of fire they offered, or why they did it. All we can really say is that they were wrong because they didn’t obey God’s law. They showed that they didn’t respect God or his holiness, and that they thought they could make their own rules and do things their own way.
We are all like Nadab and Abihu sometimes. We want to make our own rules and do things our own way. When we do that, we show that we don’t respect God or his holiness either. But God has had mercy on us, and sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus was the perfect priest who offered exactly the sacrifice that God required. He was different from Nadab and Abihu and every other priest because he had no sin, and what he offered to God was his own perfect life on the cross. This was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and it covers all our sin and rebellion and brings us back to God for now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our perfect priest to offer himself for our sins. In his Name, Amen.