Two of Aaron’s sons and priests to The Lord Nadab and Abihu decided to give an offering to God. But it wasn’t an offering the Lord had prescribed. It was something they felt they wanted to do and so they did it. Verse 1 describes it.
“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.”
From the outside there seems nothing wrong with them worshipping God in this manner. But God didn’t give them authority to worship Him in that way. Their act was not one of worshipping the Lord but one of idolatry, where they lifted themselves up to God’s level to create a ritual. Their act glorified them not God. Their act had no good purpose. And everything God does has reason and purpose. Verse 2 describes what happened next.
“And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”
I can’t imagine the depth of grief Aaron had to feel when he saw what had happened to his sons. They had acted rashly and selfishly in front of all the people and now they were dead. Losing one child has to be horrific, losing two multiplies that loss tenfold. But Aaron loved his Lord. He trusted his Lord. He had learned his own lesson about idolatry when he allowed himself to be coerced into making the golden calf, when he betrayed The Lord for the people. But Moses spoke to Aaron. Verse 3 reads,
“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.”
Holding one’s peace doesn’t simply mean not speaking up against something. It means making the choice to withdraw objections and arguments and accept the situation. For Aaron it meant He chose to let his faith in God be his comfort and calm and to let God be his Peace and Comfort. He didn’t mourn for his sons because he trusted His Lord.
Moses called two cousins of Nadab and Abihu, Mishael and Elzaphan to carry their remains out of the camp, he cautioned them not to mourn for the men. Moses told them they were anointed by the Lord and since their calling was higher, if they sinned by mourning the men instead of obeying The Lord they would incur His wrath and die.
The Lord’s blessings, His anointing, and His calling separate us from the common man. He exalts us to be holy. And He expects us to live up to that distinction. He gave Mishael and Elzaphan the honor of doing an important work for Him. Carrying burned corpses may not seem like much an honor, but it was. It came with an anointing from God. He selected these men. Their service allowed Aaron and his other sons to remain clean and continue serving God without interruption. At this time after seeing this awesome work of God, Israel needed her priests ministrations.
No job, when done for Our Lord God Almighty is insignificant. No task or service He assigns is without blessings. He could have chosen anyone. He chose Mishael and Elzaphan. He chose you! He equipped Mishael and Elzaphan and He equips you.
Perhaps He chose you to take the trash out. That may seem unimportant even trivial, but it isn’t. No! When you take out the garbage, the pastor is free to counsel the grieving widow. You had a part in God’s work in her life because you obeyed and collected the trash and carried it to the dumpster.
The Lord gave Nadab and Abihu a job too. Their calling was extraordinary. They were among the few who could act as God’s intermediaries and carefully carry out his words to bring and maintain peace with His children. But they took it upon themselves to make more of their job than God asked. They glorified themselves instead of God.
What if The Lord calls you to sing a song for the congregation and you decide to sing ten songs instead? The song He asked you to sing would have been a conduit for the congregation to commune with Him, the concert becomes an accolade for you. No longer is the assembly worshipping God, now they are admiring you.
We are all called to Love the Lord, Our God with our whole being, our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We glorify the Lord, we lift up others to Him. He already lifted us, we don’t have to exalt ourselves. Do whatever we do for the Lord completely. Leave our own exultation out of it.
Colossians 3:23-24 reads,
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”