Some brothers, like Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau, get each other into trouble. Nadab and Abihu got into trouble together.

Although little is known of their early years, the Bible gives us an abundance of information about the environment in which they grew up. Born in Egypt, they were eyewitnesses of God’s mighty acts of the exodus.  They saw their father, Aaron, their uncle, Moses, and their aunt, Miriam, in action many times.  They had first-hand knowledge of God’s holiness as few men have ever had, and for a while at least, they followed God wholeheartedly (Leviticus 8:36).  But at a crucial moment they chose to treat with indifference the clear instruction from God.  The consequence of their sin was fiery, instant, and shocking to all.

We are in danger of making the same mistakes as these brothers when we treat lightly the justice and holiness of God. We must draw near to God while realising that there is a proper fear of God.  Don’t forget that the opportunity to know God personally is based on his gracious invitation to an always unworthy people, not a gift to be taken for granted.  Do your thoughts about God include a humble recognition of his great holiness?

Strengths and accomplishments:

  • Oldest sons of Aaron
  • Primary candidates to become high priest after their father
  • Involved with the original consecration of the tabernacle
  • Commended for doing “everything the LORD commanded” (Leviticus 8:36)

Weakness and mistake:

  • Treated lightly God’s direct commands

Lessons from their lives:

  • Sin has deadly consequences

Vital statistics:

  • Where: The Sinai peninsula
  • Occupation: Priests-in-training
  • Relatives: Father: Aaron. Uncle and Aunt: Moses and Miriam.  Brothers: Eleazar and Ithamar

Key verses: Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorised fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1, 2).

The story of Nadab and Abihu is told in Leviticus 8-10. They are also mentioned in Exodus 24:1, 9; 28:1; Numbers 3:2-4; 26:60, 61.


©KingsWay 1973.



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