Leviticus Chapter 10

Through Moses, the Lord gave the Israelites strict commandments to follow. They were told specifically, each detail in when to make sacrifices to the Lord, how to make them, who was authorized to make them and so on. One of the main things, was that there was priesthood authority to perform sacrifices, and only those who were in the Levitical line of Aaron, qualified. Because of their calling, the sons of Aaron were held to a higher standard. They were taught the specific duties of the priesthood and how to perform them according to the Lord’s direction. The book of Leviticus continues:

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.
2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
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.
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.

Nadab was the oldest son of Aaron, and Abihu was another son of Aaron. They did not follow the instruction of the Lord, and offered a fire that was not acceptable to the Lord. The word strange means forbidden or unauthorized. In Exodus 30:9 we read, “Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.” Fire of the Lord, devoured these men. Aaron was probably going to argue against what had happened, but Moses spoke to him. The Lord had a specific way to be glorified by the Israelites and there was no justification for what was done. Disobedience to the laws of God, requires consequences in order for the law to be just. It seems that Aaron was chastised for the wrong-doing, or for wanting to say something about it, but after Moses spoke, he held his peace. The manual that I am using as a companion to this study, poses the question, why would Moses place this event in the Bible? I think we are meant to recognize the importance of the duties of the priesthood. Not only is the right to hold the power of God authorized by God, but the specific ways to use that power, must also be authorized. Priesthood responsibilities should be performed in a manner that is pleasing to God, because it is the use of His power and represents His name.

Mishael and Elzapan, who were not men of the priesthood of Aaron, were called to remove the bodies and take them out of the encampment. Moses then told Aaron and his sons, that they were not to perform their rituals of mourning. But that if they did, they too would die and bring the wrath of god upon the people. They were to let the rest of the Israelites do the mourning for them. The priests were to return to their service in the tabernacle, because they had been anointed to do so. Nadab and Abihu had sinned against the Lord and any sign of mourning for their loss, would have shown that they mattered more than God. This is a reminder to me, that service to God is more important then anything else in this life. When we are called to do a work of the Lord, we need to see it through even if trials arise in our life that seek to pull us from our duty.

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.

Aaron was told by the Lord, that the priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when going into the tabernacle, or they would risk death. In this, they would be able to know what was holy and clean, or unholy and unclean. They would be holy and clean. And they would be able to teach the Israelites the things the Lord had revealed to Moses. Wine and strong drinks would probably cause them not to think clearly, which would not be acceptable to the Lord. Discernment is a gift of the spirit, which requires clarity of the mind. Likewise, a clear mind is necessary to be able to teach according to those things that the spirit impresses upon us. All those who bear the priesthood, should be worthy to do so. Abstaining from wine and strong drink, will allow them to be worthy of their priesthood.

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.
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.

The priests were told to partake of the holy meat offering with unleavened bread, which had been offered of the Lord. The wave offering was to be eaten with their families. The heave and wave offerings were for the priesthood.

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.

Eleazar and Ithamar were the priests who took the places of their brothers who had been consumed. Moses was angry that they had burnt the sin offering of the goat, and had not partaken of it as they had been commanded. I think that eating the offering, according to the specific instructions given, was a part of the ordinance of making an atonement for the people. If done right, the offering was holy and acceptable. Aaron questioned Moses, if it would have been acceptable to eat of it, when his son had offered it and been consumed because it was unacceptable. This thought of Aaron, took away the anger of Moses. I think it would have been acceptable for the other priests to partake of the offering, or Moses would not have commanded it. However, they had allowed their own fears and opinions to get in the way. There are many times that we think we know better then what the Lord offers or asks of us. This is never true. In order to align ourselves truly with the will of God, we have to follow his commandments to the letter and not allow justification for going against it.

A little side note: I think the theme of fire is significant throughout the scriptures. We learn in the scriptures that it is the glory of God shown to the Israelites. Fire is a tool for giving holy offerings to the Lord. Fire destroys the wicked and many righteous individuals were spared from the effects of fire. Fire is something of great and terrible power, but God is greater and uses fire to humble the people. Fire is the description of the spirit given to men. I think it would be interesting to do a greater study of fire as it appears throughout the scriptures at a later time.

We learn from this chapter, that the Lord is no respecter of persons. He commands obedience and the greater our covenants, the greater the expectation to obey. I think that the Lord needed to make an example of these men. The Israelites were coming from years among the Egyptians, without the presence of God with them. They had not had the priesthood with them. They needed to be given strict rules to help them to return to the Lord and to be His people. It is obvious that they did not immediately take the commandments seriously, as evidence by their actions when Moses left into the mount and they turned back to idolatry. The commandments are no less important for us today. We may not be made to die physically for choosing not to be obedient, but any choice to go against the commandments and not repent of our wrongs causes us spiritual death, which is eternally more significant. Their stories should stand as an example to us of how important it is to hearken to the Lord and follow His counsel.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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