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Icons of the Bible: Nadab and Abihu - We Must Fear God

Updated: Aug 31, 2023


Icons of the Bible: Nadab and Abihu - We Must Fear God
Icons of the Bible: Nadab and Abihu - We Must Fear God

The Icons of The Bible Series will go through all the people of the Bible in chronological order. I will attempt to provide you focused article and videos that will help you become more familiar with those whom God chose to tell us about in His Holy Scripture. - Andy


Icons of the Bible: Nadab and Abihu - We Must Fear God

“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” – Exodus 24:9-10


Who were Nadab and Abihu?

Nadab and Abihu were the oldest and second oldest sons of Aaron, the brother of Moses and first high priest of Israel. Their relation to Aaron is mentioned in Numbers 3:2–3 as two of Aaron’s four sons: “The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests.”


Exodus 24 includes Nadab and Abihu as two of the leaders of Israel who came before the Lord. They were given the special privilege of seeing a vision of God: “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank” (Exodus 24:9–11).


Nadab and Abihu are best known, however, for offering “unauthorized fire” (or “strange fire,” KJV) before the Lord in the tabernacle and dying as a result. Leviticus 10:1–2 shares this sobering account, stating, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized 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.”." from the article: Who were Nadab and Abihu?


What is Strange Fire?


Video from Bible Study Tools


Strange Fire

There is an incident in the biblical record that causes abiding consternation for many of God's people. It is the story of how two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, were slain suddenly by God.

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. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 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. (Lev. 10:1–3)

Aaron, of course, was the older brother of Moses and the first high priest of Israel. God had consecrated Aaron and his sons to the holy vocation of the priesthood. It was in the context of their priestly service that two of Aaron's four sons, Nadab and Abihu, each got a censer—a kind of vessel that was used in antiquity to contain the incense that was burned as an offering before God—put fire in them, put incense on them, and offered what the book of Leviticus calls "unauthorized fire."

What is "unauthorized fire," or, as it is rendered in other translations, "profane fire" or "strange fire"? We use the word profane to refer to that which is less than holy, but the word profane comes from the Latin profanus, which literally means "outside the temple." So, in a literal sense, Moses, as the author of Leviticus, is saying that the fire that Nadab and Abihu introduced to the altar had not been purified or consecrated. For that, God took their lives.." from the article: Strange Fire


Lessons for Us Today

It's hard to imagine what Nadab and Abihu experienced and saw when they among others were permitted to glimpse God. Today we discuss "The Hiddenness of God" with most Christians still unable to grasp the idea. But to see God is to die, to actually see him would overwhelm our minds and bodies. Therefore God always had strict rules when he allowed his sons and daughters to be near his manifestation.

Why were these two men so foolish and careless. had they become so accustomed to seeing God that they lacked fear and reverence?


”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.

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

Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spoke, 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.” – Leviticus 10:1-3


In our culture today we have made God casual, he's our friend, our genie. We have foolishly forgotten to fear him!


“And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean” Leviticus 10:10.


Today we are negligent in our faith and our reluctance top fear God is a fools errand.


Hebrews 12:28-29

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”


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