Priests vs. Nadab/Abihu — The true priests in the Old Testament (Levites) and the New Testament (Christians).
Reading 1: Leviticus 9
Reading 2: Leviticus 10:1-7
Reading 3: Revelation 1:5-6
Yesterday we read of the seriousness of sin, and learned that blood must be shed for forgiveness, underlining the cost of our rebellion against God’s wisdom and our failure to follow His instruction.
Today we see both the blessing of obedience, and the folly of following our own wisdom. Aaron carefully completes the instructions God gave to Moses, offering the sacrifices that represented and atoned for sin. Thus Aaron, the priests, and the people were able (by God’s grace) to avoid punishment for their sins.
It may help to outline briefly the five types of offering in the Law:
Burnt Offering – ascends to God; a repeated symbol of devotion and commitment.
Grain Offering – expression of gratitude; shared between God and the priests.
Peace Offering – a meal together symbolizing fellowship and commitment to one another. Portions were given to the priests and to God.
Sin or Cleansing Offering – similar to the Peace Offering but focused on purification to resume fellowship with God. So the meal went to God and was not shared by the offerer.
Guilt or Reparation Offering – monetary value to repay the consequences of a sin.
Not all of these were offered in Leviticus 9 but you will see the principle – the offerings are primarily visual reminders of God’s grace in allowing sinful mankind to live in relationship with Him, albeit at the cost of some of their livelihood. The sacrifices were not seen as payment for sin, but rather as demonstrations of God’s goodness.
In light of that understanding, the episode of Nadab and Abihu comes into clearer focus. Who in their right mind would watch all the carefully choreographed steps to demonstrate how kind God is, and how to remain in fellowship with Him despite universal sin, and then decide to make up your own way to join in?!
Clearly Nadab and Abihu were more taken with their position as priests than in awe of the God who chose them for that role, and they found out how serious is the sin of independence.
By contrast, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for all sin, and now we are a Kingdom of priests by virtue of His grace!
Have a great day!