March 13, 2022

Ep. 34 - Nadab & Abihu

Ep. 34 - Nadab & Abihu

Leviticus 8:1 – 10:10.  The priests have been consecrated…but some of them aren’t taking their jobs very seriously.

Leviticus 8:1 – 10:10.  The priests have been consecrated…but some of them aren’t taking their jobs very seriously.  

“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids.  For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about.  The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority.  And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too!  It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode.  #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda  





Last we left our story, the Israelites had just finished building the tabernacle.  They’d built all the different pieces, and then Moses had put them all together…the outer court, the gate, the alter, laver, the lamp stand, the table of Shewbread, the alter of incense, the the veil between the holy place and most holy place…and then finally he put the 10 commandments into the ark, put the lid (the mercy seat) on top of the ark, and placed the ark in the most holy place.  And after all that was done, God’s physical shining presence came and rested in the most holy place.  And with the tabernacle completed, and with God now physically resting in the tabernacle, the Israelites were finally ready to get back back on the road and head to the Promised Land…right?  Well…actually…not quite.

Because actually, they weren’t quite done with the tabernacle yet.  Remember, back in the episode with Mama…Mama shared with us that the tabernacle wasn’t just a place for God to be close with them…it wasn’t just an interesting place to visit…it was also a place where the sacrificial services would take place…it was the place where the Israelites would go to (among other things) say sorry to God when they sinned by sacrificing an animal.  And now with the tabernacle built, instead of each family taking care of their own sacrifices, God told the Israelites that a group of special people would take care of these services for them.  And these special people were called the priests.

Now, just like how the tabernacle had a special day when it was assembled and then it was officially ready, something similar needed to be done for the priests as well.  The priests needed to have a special day when they were consecrated, and after this special consecration they could officially start their work.  And boy…this consecration of the priests was whole thing. 

Now first of all, remember from the bonus episode with Mama that God had selected Aaron and his four sons (Nadab, Ahibu, Eleazar, and Ithamar) to be the first priests.  And actually every priest was to be a descendant of Aaron.  And on the special day to consecrate the priests, Moses gathered all the Israelites to the outer gate of the tabernacle, and in front of the Israelites started preparing Aaron and his four sons to start their new jobs.  First Moses washed Aaron, then he dressed him in the priestly cloths – the tunic, the ephod, a special sash, a special belt, the breastplate with all the special stones and the Urim and the Thummim, a special hat, and even a holy crown.  And after Aaron was dressed, Moses anointed him with a special oil.  Then he dressed Aaron’s 4 sons in special outfits as well. 

Then came the special sacrifices.  First, Moses sacrificed a bull…and Moses put some of the bull’s blood on the horns of the alter with his finger and then took certain parts of the bull and burned them on the alter.  Then Moses sacrificed a ram, and Moses sprinkled some of the blood all around and on the alter.  And then he cut up the ram into very specific pieces, washed some of the pieces, and then burned the whole ram on the alter.  Then Moses sacrificed another ram, this time Moses took the blood and put a little bit on Aaron’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.  Then he did the same for Aaron’s sons.  Then Moses took certain parts of the ram and made it into a wave offering, which he gave to Aaron and his sons, and then took the wave offering and burnt it on the alter. 

And on and on it went like this.  And honestly kidzos, there’s a lot of detail here that I’m just going to skip over.  Even though it is all important, if we want to avoid 2-hour episodes, then we just have to do a little summarizing.  Suffice it to say that every step of consecrating the priests was extremely detailed.  And every single thing that Moses did to consecrate the priests had meaning and purpose…and everything that was done was done extremely carefully.  

And at the end of the consecration (which actually lasted 8 days), Aaron offered a bunch of sacrifices, the last of which was left on the alter.  And then the Bible says that, “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the alter.” (Lev. 9:24) Everything had been done just right.  And to show that God had accepted everything, He appeared to all of the people and personally burned up the last sacrifice.  The priests (Aaron and his sons) had finally been consecrated and could now get to the wonderful work performing the sacrifices for the Israelites.

But then the unthinkable happened.  As Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s two oldest sons who had just been consecrated as priests) were doing the work that God had given them in the tabernacle, the Bible says that, “fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” (10:2) The very same fire that not long ago had consumed the burnt offering…suddenly came and consumed the two brothers and killed them on the spot in tabernacle.  Everyone must have been shocked.  Besides Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu were probably the 3rd and 4th most important people in all of Israel.  Along with the 70 elders of Israel, Nadab and Abihu had even had the chance to see God on Mt. Sinai.  What could these important people have possibly done to deserve being killed?

Well, as it turns out, Nadab and Abihu had been drinking on the job.  Yup that’s right kidzos…just after starting the most important job in the whole nation, the two brothers had went ahead and got drunk.  And what happened was that as the Israelites were worshipping, the two brothers got out their incense censors (which were these small metal containers which were held with short chains and which had a little compartment at the bottom for coals and an upper compartment for the incense that would steam out of the censors once it heated up) and the Bible says they, “put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.” (10:1) So because the brothers were drunk, they mistakenly took the coals from the wrong place and put them into their censors.  And by doing this, the Bible calls this “offering profane fire”…that is to say, the fire they were using in their censors was not the fire that God had told them to use.  In fact, God had given specific instructions that the fire used in the censors was to come from the alter of sacrifice…for which God Himself had started that fire…which made it a holy fire.  But instead of using the holy fire in their censors, in their drunk state, they had gotten the fire from somewhere else…probably from one of the cooking fires that were close by.

Right after the brothers had been killed, Moses turned to Aaron (who I’m sure was beside himself), and calmly said to him, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.'” (10:3) God was basically telling Aaron that by coming to the tabernacle drunk and by messing up the services, that his sons had made two fatal mistakes.  First, the entire reason that the job of the priests existed was to be an especially pure group through whom the rest of the Israelites could interact with God.  The priests had a higher calling than the rest of the Israelites…and the two brothers were not just simply living that out.  Second, the two brothers were obviously not taking their jobs very seriously…(I mean, if you care about your job you definitely don’t go to work drunk).  And this is despite God having made it very clear that they had very serious jobs.  The brothers had just been through 8 days of a very detailed and very intentional consecration.  The brothers had every reason to know that this was a solemn and important work.  And…because all the Israelites were watching what the priests were doing…if God had let this go …even for a day…it would have encouraged the rest of the Israelites to treat the tabernacle and it’s services the same way.  And God had to make it clear to everyone just how important the tabernacle was…and unfortunately this meant that Nadab and Abihu had to lose their lives.

(Longer pause then normal.). After the two bodies were carried away, Moses turned to Aaron and his two remaining sons and said, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD has kindled.  (7)  You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.” (10:6-7) Moses was telling Aaron and his two remaining sons that even though as a father and as brothers they must be dying inside, they were not allowed to mourn.  They were not allowed to show any sign that they were sad.  Because if they did, they would cause the Israelites to doubt God and to think that God had done something wrong.  Aaron and the two sons were even told that they couldn’t take the rest of the day off…they had to continue their work as if nothing had happened.  Only in this way would everyone clearly see that what God had done was deserved…and only in this way would everyone get the message that the sacrificial services were something to be respected.  And as hard as it must have been, the Bible says that Aaron and the two remaining brothers, “did according to the word of Moses.” (10:7)

Now kidzos, there’s something very important that I want you to get out of this story, and that is this…God expects everyone to obey His laws and directions no matter how important you might think you are.  Like we said before, Nadab and Abihu were the 3rd and 4th most important people in all of Israel.  They were pretty up there.  And they probably thought to themselves, “we are very important people…and surely we don’t need to follow ALL the laws.”  It can be a real temptation kidzos when you become an important person to think that you are somehow above the rules…and that following the rules is for people…ya know…less important than you.  And one day you kidzos might grow up to become someone that people think is important…like maybe the boss at your work, or maybe a policeman, or maybe a doctor, or a pastor, or maybe even the president or prime minister of your country.  And if that day comes, I want you kidzos to remember this story…and to remember that God expects all of us to follow all His laws all the time…no matter how important you might think you are.