Nadab and Abihu.

C. H. Mackintosh.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 262.

Hardly had the echo of the shout of victory died away (Leviticus 9) ere the elements of a spurious worship were prepared. Hardly had the divine position been assumed ere it was deliberately abandoned through neglect of the divine commandment. No sooner were those priests inaugurated than they grievously failed in the discharge of their priestly functions. And in what did their failures consist? Were they spurious priests? Were they mere pretenders? By no means. They were genuine sons of Aaron, true members of the priestly family, duly-appointed priests. Their vessels of ministry and their priestly garments too would seem to have been all right. What then was their sin? Did they stain the curtains of the tabernacle with human blood? or pollute the sacred precincts with some crime which shocks the moral sense? We have no proof of their having done so. Their sin was this: They "offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not." Here was their sin. They departed in their worship from the plain word of Jehovah, who had fully and plainly instructed them as to the mode of their worship. We have already alluded to the divine fulness and sufficiency of the word of the Lord in reference to every branch of priestly service. There was no room left for man to introduce what he might deem desirable or expedient. "This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded" was quite sufficient. It made all very plain and very simple. Nothing was needed on man's part save a spirit of implicit obedience to the divine command; but herein they failed. Man has always proved himself ill‑disposed to walk in the narrow path of strict adherence to the plain word of God. The by-path has ever seemed to present resistless charms to the poor human heart. "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." (Proverbs 9: 17.) Such is the enemy's language; but the lowly, obedient heart knows full well that the path of subjection to the word of God is the only one that leads to "waters" that are really "sweet" or to "bread" that can rightly be called "pleasant." Nadab and Abihu might have deemed one kind of "fire" as good as another, but it was not their province to decide as to that. They should have acted according to the word of the Lord, but instead of this they took their own way, and reaped the awful fruits thereof. "He knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell."

"And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them; and they died before the Lord." How deeply solemn! Jehovah was dwelling in the midst of His people to govern, to judge, and to act according to the claims of His nature. At the close of Leviticus 9 we read, "And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat." This was Jehovah's acceptance of a true sacrifice, but in Leviticus 10 it is His judgment upon erring priests. It is a double action of the same fire. The burnt offering went up as a sweet odour, the "strange fire" was rejected as an abomination. The Lord was glorified in the former, but it would have been a dishonour to accept the latter. Divine grace accepted and delighted in that which was a type of Christ's most precious sacrifice, divine holiness rejected that which was the fruit of man's corrupt will - a will never more hideous and abominable than when active in the things of God. C. H. M.

*  *  *

The way to walk in a time of difficulty is by valuing Christ, not as One to help me in temptation, though He be ever ready to do so, but for His own sake.

*  *  *

If my heart is full of Christ, the things that are contrary to Him do not attract me.