Leviticus 10 (Part 3)
A. Leviticus sets forth the laws that governed the priesthood which sprang from Levi.
B. Leviticus was Israel's order of divine service. HEB 9:1.
C. Among other things, Leviticus provides us with principles and patterns of service to God, and is
therefore profitable and educational. HEB 8:4-5; 2TI 3:16; ROM 15:4.
1. Baptized believers are a holy, royal priesthood of God's spiritual house, the church.
1PE 2:5, 9 c/w 1TI 3:15.
2. There is a limited correspondence between O.T. priests and N.T. ministers of Jesus Christ.
3. N.T. priests function under the authority of Christ, Whose priesthood is superior to Levi.
4. Be mindful that we are N.T. priests governed by a body of law that transcends and
abolishes the O.T. 2CO 3:13; EPH 2:15; HEB 7:12.
5. Whatever may be seen in Leviticus is subject to the superior N.T. revelation of Christ.
2PE 1:19; HEB 9:15-17.
D. In preview, this chapter shows us:
1. God will be approached on His terms only.
2. the Lord will judge His people.
3. divine offices of appointment do not excuse sin by the officers.
4. obedience trumps sacrifice.
5. love of family must be subordinate to the love of God.
6. alcohol and ministry are a bad cocktail.
7. the Lord is tender and merciful.
E. It will be helpful to remember the basic layout of the tabernacle (HEB 9:1-5) and that the layout
and service of the tabernacle was a pattern of heavenly things. HEB 8:5.
A. The priesthood belonged exclusively to Aaron and his posterity. EXO 29:9; NUM 3:10.
B. Nadab and Abihu were Aaron's eldest sons (NUM 3:2-4) who were very recently consecrated to
the priesthood (LEV 8).
1. Their family and official primacy did not insulate them against judgment for their sin.
2. They are part of a list of firsts that became lasts: Adam, Ishmael, Esau, Saul, natural Israel,
3. The N.T. priesthood of believers is warned about the conditional nature of their inheritance.
1CO 5:9-13; ROM 11:22; REV 2:5.
4. N.T. ministers may through sin lose their inheritance and their office.
TIT 1:7 c/w LUK 16:2; 1CO 9:27; ACT 1:20, 25.
C. Nadab and Abihu attempted an unauthorized form of worship. It didn't take these freshly minted
priests long to cease from “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught...” (TIT 1:9).
1. The phrase, “before the LORD” denotes worshipful approach to / appearance before God.
EXO 23:17; 27:21.
a. God must be worshipped in spirit and truth. JOH 4:23-24.
b. God must be worshipped according to His order. 1CH 15:13; 1CO 11:1-2.
c. Emphasizing judgment, mercy and faith does not excuse keeping the letter of God's
law. MAT 23:23; 5:19.
2. They offered strange (foreign, alien) fire which he commanded them not.
c/w EXO 30:7-9.
Leviticus 10 10-30-11 Page 1a. The keeping of God's commandments requires no deviations from them. DEU 4:2.
b. Therefore where God specifies the details of a thing, capricious deviations from the
details constitute the breaking of a commandment.
c. This principle invalidates and condemns will worship or the traditions of men
which are strange or foreign elements that add to or diminish from God's specified
order. MAR 7:13; COL 2:22-23.
(1) Obedience trumps sacrifice. 1SAM 15:22; PRO 21:3.
(2) The form is abominable without the godliness. EZE 8:11-12; 9:6.
(3) False worship will sacrifice anything but its own ideas and sin.
d. “Every part of the religion of God is Divine. He alone knew what he designed by its
rites and ceremonies, for that which they prefigured - the whole economy of
redemption by Christ - was conceived in his own mind, and was out of the reach of
human wisdom and conjecture. He therefore who altered any part of this
representative system, who omitted or added any thing, assumed a prerogative
which belonged to God alone, and was certainly guilty of a very high offense
against the wisdom, justice, and righteousness of his Maker. This appears to have
been the sin of Nadab and Abihu, and this at once shows the reason why they were
so severely punished. The most awful judgments are threatened against those who
either add to, or take away from, the declarations of God.”
(Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible)
3. Heretofore, only Aaron had been authorized to burn incense before the LORD. EXO 30:7.
a. This implied an intrusion into a restricted office. c/w 2CH 26:18.
b. Willingness, diligence and opportunity did not justify them.
c. Neither did the fact that they were in agreement. PRO 11:21.
c. “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive
lawfully” (2TI 2:5).
d. How many men arrogate to themselves the peculiarities of the office of our High
Priest Jesus Christ or presume to approach the Creator other than through Christ?
JOH 10:1; 14:6.
4. The timing was wrong.
a. Scripture speaks of “...the time of incense” (LUK 1:10).
b. This incense was evidently not that which was to accompany the morning and
evening sacrifice (EXO 29:38-39; 30:7-9 c/w LEV 9:17), nor that which was to be
burned on the Day of Atonement. LEV 16:12-13.
c. What Nadab and Abihu did here took place after the offerings that were made in
LEV 9 but before the priests had partaken of the same. LEV 10:12-18.
(1) Their addition implied that something else was needed between the sacrifice
and the partaking of its benefits. Mind how this theme is substantially the
same as the soteriology of Arminianism, Calvinism, Catholicism and
(2) The picture of Christ that God had designed was corrupted by Nadab and
Abihu's insertion of their works!
(3) How many people believe that Jesus Christ's partaking of the benefits of the
sacrifice of Himself is denied him because of the lack of sinful man's input?
AA. Some deny that He obtained eternal redemption for all that the Father
had given Him to save. But see JOH 6:37-40; HEB 9:12.
BB. Some say that He grieves over His sacrifice because of the lack of
the sinner's input. But see ISA 53:11.
Leviticus 10 10-30-11 Page 2CC. Some say that the lack of man's obedience has denied Christ David's
throne which He was promised. But see ACT 2:29-36; REV 3:7.
d. Under the N.T., we are not bound by calendar or clock rituals, but there is a sense in
which timing is important as touching our divine service.
(1) When it's time for church assembly, that's where we ought to be.
(2) The time for the Lord's Supper is NOT the time for a carnal feast.
5. Incense is associated with prayer. PSA 141:2 c/w REV 5:8; 8:3.
a. Self-willed prayers, like Nadab and Abihu's incense, may well meet with judgment.
b. Prayers offered according to God's will are blessed. 1JO 5:14-15.
D. Nadab and Abihu “...died before the LORD” (v. 2).
1. This is the lot of the enemies of Christ: those who do not through Christ live in holiness
and righteousness before the Lord will die in shame before the Lord. LUK 19:27.
a. The promise to Abraham included holy, righteous living before God. LUK 1:74-75.
b. God's election unto Christ's atoning blood alone provides this. EPH 1:3-7.
2. Relative to the tabernacle service, “before the LORD” may refer to:
a. the immediate presence of God over the mercy seat in the holiest of all.
EXO 16:33 c/w HEB 9:4.
b. the holy place. LEV 16:12.
c. the court before the sanctuary (holy place). LEV 1:5; 10:4.
3. Though the high priest alone had access to the holiest place to be before the Lord, yet
others in their more distant service must deem themselves before the Lord.
a. The doorkeeper was before the Lord and accordingly was blessed. PSA 84:10.
b. The least esteemed in the church are before the Lord as much as are the highly
esteemed. 1CO 6:4 c/w 1TH 5:12-13.
c. Relief of the needy is before the Lord though it be done at home.
1TI 5:4; JAM 1:27.
d. Our service in the church on earth is as much before the Lord as is the service of the
church in heaven because of Christ's atonement. HEB 10:19-22; 12:22-24.
E. “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them...” (v. 2).
1. Their bodies were not consumed. vs. 4-5.
2. God is able to burn but not consume to get our attention. EXO 3:2-4.
3. God is also able to burn and consume which should really get our attention. 2KI 1:10.
4. Presumptuous sinners may expect “...a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery
indignation which shall devour the adversaries” (HEB 10:27).
5. An account like this one should get our attention, it happening so early in the history of the
a. The account of Ananias' and Sapphira's toying with God in offerings should
similarly get our attention. ACT 5:1-11.
b. The account of the Corinthian church's toying with the service of Jesus Christ
should also get our attention. 1CO 11:28-30.
6. “...let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire” (HEB 12:28-29).
A. Moses' words to Aaron began, “This is that the LORD spake...”
1. That which God has spoken is in all things for our comfort. ROM 15:4; 1TH 4:18.
Leviticus 10 10-30-11 Page 32. For the humble heart, even difficult reminders of the will of God should be a comfort.
3. We do well to not argue with God but humbly submit to what He said should befall us.
1SAM 3:18; ISA 39:8.
B. “...I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me...” c/w ISA 8:13.
1. Sanctification may refer to:
a. being set apart religiously for an office or function.
b. making a person holy, purified or freed from sin.
c. consecrating a thing by setting it apart as holy or sacred.
d. honoured as holy; having holiness ascribed to.
2. They had been sanctified (set apart religiously for an office or function) by God and were
expected to approach him in kind. EXO 29:44 c/w EXO 19:22.
3. Drawing nigh unto God is preceded by submission to Him. JAM 4:7-8.
4. God is thus sanctified by our faith and obedience. NUM 20:12-13; ISA 5:16.
a. The elect are sanctified by Christ and are therefore to sanctify themselves.
HEB 10:10; 13:12 c/w 1TH 4:3-4.
b. Ministers who are sanctified by ordination must be sanctified by separation from
heresies and dishonour. 2TI 2:16-21.
5. Sanctifying God must begin in the heart. 1PE 3:15.
6. N.T. priests may thank Jesus Christ for being able to draw nigh to God in service in spite of
a. At Sinai, only the mediator and high priest could draw intimately nigh to God.
b. In the tabernacle, only the high priest could draw intimately nigh to God on one day
each year. HEB 9:7.
c. Our Mediator and High Priest has opened up a way for us to draw intimately and
continually nigh to God in a heavenly mount and tabernacle.
HEB 7:19; 8:2; 10:19-22; 12:18-24.
d. “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which
cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,” (HEB 2:11).
7. If God be not sanctified in His people's faith and obedience, He will be sanctified through
His judgments. 1SAM 6:19-20; ACT 5:1-11.
C. “...And Aaron held his peace.” c/w PSA 39:2, 9.
1. “...O man, who art thou that repliest against God?...” (ROM 9:20).
2. Aaron recognized that Moses had not killed the servants of the Lord. ct/w NUM 16:41.
a. It is a common copout to blame ministerial leadership for troubles that disobedient
men bring upon themselves. 1KI 18:17; 2KI 6:31; 2CO 6:12.
b. “Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted”
3. Aaron was not as Eli who honoured his sons above God. 1SAM 2:29.
a. Israel had a law which required the family of an enticer to idolatry to be the first to
stone him or her. DEU 13:6-11.
b. The terms of discipleship to Christ forbid us from showing partiality to family
before God. MAT 10:37.
A. Their priestly garments did not protect them but rather became their body bags.
B. The external trappings of religion without the substance avail nothing. ISA 1:11-15.
1. Circumcision avails nothing in justification (GAL 5:2-3) and is counted uncircumcision
Leviticus 10 10-30-11 Page 4because of transgression. ROM 2:25.
2. Works without faith are as dead as faith without works. HEB 11:4 c/w 1JO 3:12.
C. As the body of sacrificial beasts were disposed of without the camp (HEB 13:11), so the bodies of
these men who were offered upon the altar of divine justice were carried out for disposal.
A. Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar were forbidden to leave their duty to bury their dead or participate in
the common mourning, “...lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people.” c/w JOS 22:20.
B. Soon after this a law was given which regulated inferior priests' and the high priest's involvement
in rites of mourning. LEV 21:1-11.
C. For this situation neither the high priest nor the inferior priests were to bewail God's burning.
1. They were not to uncover their heads. c/w EXO 29:6-9; LEV 21:5.
2. They were not to rend their clothes. c/w GEN 37:34.
3. They were not to leave the door of the tabernacle. c/w LEV 21:12.
4. The anointing oil of the LORD was upon them. EXO 30:30.
D. This all may remind us that:
1. discipleship to Jesus Christ can require duty to overrule family and heart. LUK 9:59-60.
2. as N.T. priests, death of loved ones should not mean the same thing to us as it does to
others. 1TH 4:13.
3. we dare not let God's judgments against those closest to us cause us to react in such a way
as to call His judgments into question and so create trouble for other brethren. JOS 7:10.
4. as they were not to uncover their heads, neither should we in distress dishonour our
submission to the headship of Christ. 1CO 11:3-5.
5. as they were not to rend their clothes, neither should we rend our garment of Christ when
His judgments affect us. ROM 13:14.
6. as they were not to leave the door of the tabernacle, neither should we abandon the place of
our worship when things go against us. HEB 10:25, 34-35; 12:16; LUK 9:62.
7. as long as we have the anointing oil of God's spirit (ISA 61:1 c/w LUK 4:18-19;
ACT 10:38), we have a place and a duty (1JO 2:19-28). But woe betide the man that
grieves or quenches the spirit! Compare “....lest ye die” with ROM 8:13.
8. our High Priest does not abandon His tabernacle or office to mourn the judgment of His
sons. HEB 10:26-30; 2CO 2:15-16.
E. “...And they did according to the word of Moses” (v. 7).
1. The consequences of not doing the word of Moses were painfully clear to them.
2. They did not reject their family member's words from God because he was of their family.
3. They were as the Thessalonian believers. 1TH 2:13.
A. As God spake directly to Job after Elihu (JOB 38:1), He here speaks directly to Aaron after
1. It is a great comfort to faithful ministers when the Lord backs them up.
MAT 17:5; ACT 13:45-49.
2. By God speaking directly to Aaron, this warning could certainly not be construed as the
uncharitable surmising of an over-righteous brother. c/w MAT 13:57.
3. NOTE: The N.T. differs from the O.T. in that God has spoken unto us by His Son.
a. The Son is God (HEB 1:8) and therefore God has spoken to us more directly.
b. As such, we are under weightier responsibility than O.T. saints in many respects.
Leviticus 10 10-30-11 Page 5HEB 2:1-3; 12:24-25; 10:28-29.
B. Nadab and Abihu had exercised very poor judgment in their offering of strange fire.
1. They died because of a lack of discernment. c/w 1CO 11:29.
2. It was therefore appropriate to warn the priests about mingling the judgment-impairing
properties of wine and strong drink with the solemn duties of the house of God.
c/w EZE 44:21.
3. Isaiah reproved the priests for such. ISA 28:7.
C. Scripture takes particular notice of the impairing properties of intoxicants. PRO 20:1; 23:29-32.
1. Excess drink (EPH 5:18) breaks down inhibitions and causes one to do what he otherwise
would restrain himself from doing. PRO 23:33; HAB 2:15.
2. Excess drink destabilizes and numbs the nervous system out of its natural power to hinder
us from hurtful actions. PRO 23:34-35.
3. Of special concern for the priests was the fact that they were responsible for the law's
utility in Israel.
a. They were the ordained teachers of the law. DEU 33:8-11; MAL 2:7.
b. They were also involved in the application of the law as judges.
DEU 17:8-9; 18:16-17; 21:5.
c. Express warning is given to those who are in such authority to not let their
judgment be clouded by wine or strong drink.
PRO 31:4-5; ISA 5:22-23; ISA 28:7.
d. N.T. ministers are similarly instructed to not be given to wine but rather to be sober.
e. N.T. saints in general are to be defined by sobriety lest they invite God's judgment
for the lack of their own judgment. 1TH 5:5-8; LUK 21:34; 1PE 4:7.
f. The spirit of a sound mind (2TI 1:7) is needed for sound judgment, not one clouded
4. Wine and strong drink are Christian liberties, even as they were liberties under the Law.
DEU 14:26; EPH 5:18.
a. Mind that all Christian liberties are governed by the greater laws of Christ.
GAL 5:13; ROM 14:21; 1CO 6:12.
b. Licitus perimus omnes – These lawful things undo us.
5. Unlike John the Baptist to whom wine or strong drink were forbidden, Jesus Christ drank
and so was falsely accused of being a winebibber. LUK 1:15 c/w MAT 11:18-19.
a. By Paul's instruction in 1CO 11, the fruit of the vine that pertains to the Lord's
Supper was an intoxicant. 1CO 11:1-2, 20-25.
b. As Aaron the high priest was not to drink wine in the earthly tabernacle, so Christ
would refrain from wine during His ministry in the heavenly tabernacle.
A. These verses show that the work of the Lord's house must go on in spite of affliction or loss.
ACT 5:12-14; HEB 10:33-35.