Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leadership Problems! Nadab and Abihu

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, February 20, 2013:  Leviticus 9:7-10:20

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.  Leviticus 10:1-2 (NASB)

Nadab and Abihu are an interesting case.  It is a tragic story with lessons for us today. We live in a day in which high-profile leaders have fallen causing hurt to not only themselves but the entire Body of Christ.  It seems that since the horrendous Jim Bakker/Jimmy Swaggart fiasco of the 1980's, we have had a steady stream of leadership tragedies. The Catholic Church is now suffering through a seemingly unending abuse scandal that brings a black mark on the work of God.  Every year or so, another "Nadab and Abihu story" shows up in the media.  Like dominoes falling, the ill effect seems to continue and grow.

Nadab and Abihu were the two eldest sons of Aaron, Moses' brother.  They were at the top of the leadership scene among the children of Israel.  They had strong family pedigree and powerful spiritual experience.  Earlier in Exodus 24:9-11, they had been among the few privileged to see God and live to tell about it.  They had been through the greatest mountain top experiences imaginable.  They had learned the priesthood from the best school on earth -- God Himself speaking through Moses.  Their future was secure in that they had been installed as priests by a "perpetual statute" (Ex. 29:9).  They could live respected and highly fruitful lives.  They were set.

No sooner had the first great inaugural sacrifice been made than these two ruined the party.  In Leviticus 9:22-24, fire had come out from God to consume the correctly ordered offering.  The blessing of God was obvious.  Then, Nadab and Abihu manufactured their own offering.  Once again, fire came out from God, but instead of consuming the offering, it consumed the priests!

So, what did these two actually do wrong?  What was their fatal error?  Some have compared Nadab and Abihu to Adam and Eve.  They had everything going for them, but one small act brought destruction. 

Some have said that the error of Nadab and Abihu was that they had tried to do priestly work while drunk!  After all, the very next passage in Leviticus gives the instruction, "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink...when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die."  (Lev. 10:9)

Most commentators feel that their error was THE SIN OF PRESUMPTION.  They refused to follow the prescribed way of serving God, and as a result, offered a strange mixture of man's ways mingled with God's ways. 

Here's the lesson, we meet God ON HIS TERMS not ours.  Anything less than God's way is ultimately dishonoring to Him.  He does not come to bargain with us.  He, in His grace, lays out the path of relationship.  He then even empowers it and supports it.  All He asks is that we simply come to Him HIS WAY -- and we will receive His blessing.

Why was God so severe in dealing with Nadab and Abihu?  I believe the answer is found in Luke 12:48 where it says, "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."

Along with great blessing also comes great responsibility.  We are not only objects of His affection, we are also instruments of His righteousness.  Remember, whoever would represent God, must always WALK WITH HIM.  That's the only way to live.

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