NKJV - 61 And Nadab and Abihu died when they offered profane fire before the LORD.
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I think that the actions for which God judged Nadab and Abihu may have consisted of several separate aspects that violated the detailed instructions that God gave in regard to such offerings, such as: 1) using their own censers for the offering, rather than the devices specifically consecrated for such use; 2) apparently making an offering together that had been commanded to be made by only one person; 3) presumptuously taking it upon themselves to make an offering in a censer that God had said was to be offered only by the high priest (that is, by Aaron, their father). (Lesser offerings were normally burned on the altar itself.); 4) offering the incense at an unauthorized time of day, other than as part of the morning or evening sacrifice; 5) using fire for burning the incense from a source other than the holy fire of the altar of burnt offering. Although God's judgment of them might seem to us today to be out of proportion to the offense, this occurred at the very beginning of the Aaronic priesthood, and I would say that God wanted to make emphatically clear to the people of Israel and to its priests the vital importance of performing these ritual duties precisely as He had prescribed, since they involved direct dealings with God Himself. Nadab and Abihu had been among the leaders of Israel to whom God had granted the privilege of dining in His very presence (Exodus 24:1-11). With such great favor comes great responsibility. Any lesser punishment would have led to God's name being increasingly dishonored among the priests and the people.
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