Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) get much attention from us because they are noted as doing something without God’s authority. I intend to write about this truth, but the first thing I want us to notice is that sin ruins everything it touches (Ecc. 9:18b)! Leviticus 10 teaches us this loud and clear!
As we read Leviticus 8-10, we see these chapters recording events happening on the same day – the “inauguration day” of the Tabernacle and the worship of God. On the same day that we see God’s beautiful plan in action, we also see things ruined when Nadab and Abihu sinned and “offered strange (foreign) fire before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1). Their act resulted in God killing them for their disobedience. How ironic that on the day in which God sent down fire to light the altar (Lev. 9:24), He then sent down fire to stop men from violating His command (Lev. 10:2).
Of course, this fire stopped them dead (Lev. 10:2)! Now, a father of four has had his children reduced by 50%! On the day intended to be dedicated to God and His worship, Aaron has to watch the bodies of his boys carried out of the camp (Lev. 10:4-5)! Yet, he can have no part in this, nor tell his boys goodbye (Lev. 10:6-7)! What a tragedy! What suffering! Yes, sin ruins everything!
How these things could have been avoided if these men had acted in a way pleasing to God and not when God had been silent. Their sin left a “dark cloud” over the events of the day and certainly hurt a loving father who no doubt had planned on working with his sons at the Tabernacle for many years!
It is no different today. When men yield to their lusts and sin, it will result in death every time (Jas. 1:14-15)! Sin does not build; it destroys. It destroyed man’s relationship with God in the Garden (Gen. 3:6). It destroyed man’s relationship with his family (Gen. 4:1-11). Sin destroyed people’s minds (Gen. 6:5). It then destroyed the lives of millions in Genesis 6-8! Friends note the destructive power of sin, just in the first few chapters of the Bible! This destruction continues throughout Bible history, and just as it destroyed the lives and unity of a family in Leviticus 10, so also sin destroys in the very same way today (Rom. 6:23)!
Since this is true, what is your view of sin? Is there any wonder why God’s people from Old and New Testament days preached a message of repentance? Repent of your sins or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5). God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Now we know why! Turning back to God and following in the footsteps of Christ is the only thing that will save us from destruction! If the sons of Aaron had listened to God, they would have been spared an instant death! Just think of what you will avoid if you will repent of your sins today and obey the Lord (Heb. 5:9). Don’t continue down the path that leads to destruction. Instead, repent and walk in the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read through the first six chapters of Leviticus, we learn about five sacrifices. These are the burnt offering, grain (meat) offering, peace offering, the sin offering, and guilt offering. These offerings were essential to the lives of the Jews. Each one served a purpose in obtaining forgiveness for those who lived under the Mosaic law. In God’s mind, though, these things not only served an immediate purpose in the lives of the people, but also served the purpose of pointing people toward the ultimate sacrifice, the true culmination of all of God’s plans – Christ!
We see Christ in all of those sacrifices. For example, Christ is seen in …
- The burnt offering. Just as this offering was utterly consumed, so He gave Himself completely at the cross (Phil. 2:8; Matt. 20:28).
- The grain offering. Just as this sacrifice required bread, so Christ is “the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35).
- The peace offering. Just as this sacrifice symbolized the Jews’ fellowship restored, so Christ “is our peace” between us and God (Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:20).
- The sin offering. Just as this sacrifice was burned outside the camp, Christ was also sacrificed “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-12).
- The guilt offering. Just as this demanded restitution of the guilty, Christ purchased us from Satan, “not with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19).
Is it not amazing to consider the seamlessness of God’s word? The things that occurred in the Old Testament pointed to the greatest sacrifice to ever walk the earth. Jesus fills this role as a sacrifice for mankind (and many others). He offered Himself that we might be free from sin, cleansed, and allowed to start again as “babes in Christ” (I Pet. 2:2)!
Yet the comparison in those Old Testament sacrifices does not end here. Just as we can see a spiritual connection between Christ and those sacrifices, remember, Christians are also a “royal priesthood,” and God intends for us to offer “spiritual sacrifices” (I Pet. 2:9, 5). Let us look at those sacrifices and see where the comparisons can be made in our lives.
- As a burnt offering, we are to offer ourselves to God completely (Gal. 2:20).
- As a grain offering (the only sacrifice without blood), we are to be living sacrifices, not dead ones (Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 5:14-15).
- As a peace offering, we enjoy fellowship with God now that we are forgiven (II Jn. 9; I Jn. 1:7; Matt. 5:9).
- As a sin offering, we “take up (our) cross daily and follow” Him (Lk. 9:23). Since we are following Him, where did He go? We need to follow Christ and “be separate” from the world (II Cor. 6:17)!
- As a guilt offering, we strive to make restitution for our sins. We cannot earn our salvation (Lk. 17:10), but we can repent of our sins (Acts 2:38) and be His servant so long as we live (Rom. 6:16-18)!
Christ is our sacrifice, but how have we responded to Him? The beauty and poetry of Scripture show us how the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Christ. We now need to offer sacrifices but in a spiritual way. These also point us to Christ! Are we doing this? Do we give God all that He deserves?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I am sure we are familiar with the words of Christ in Matthew 5:23-24 where He said if someone was going to offer something to God, but remembers that he needs to correct something between him and a brother, he needed to take care of this first and then offer the gift. This is similar to what Moses taught in Leviticus 6:1-7! God said if a man has sinned against his brother (v. 2-4), he needed to “make restitution” and then come to God and offer his sacrifice (v. 6). Only after this has happened will God forgive the man (v. 7). When reading Leviticus (and Exodus), we see where God demands men make restitution for their sins and not merely check something off of their proverbial “checklist.”
In this text, God taught men the proper order of things. It was not appropriate for the man to offer a sacrifice to God and then worry about the neighbor later, if ever. I am reminded of passages such as James 3:9-10 and I John 4:20-21 that tell us how we ought to treat our fellow man, God’s creation. The point is made by asking how can we mistreat someone on earth but proclaim our love for the Creator? We shout our love for a God we hadn’t seen, but our hatred for the people we do! Something is not right about that!
Turn your attention to Leviticus 6:1-7 again and notice the pains God expected this person to take in order to be right with his neighbor. Only by first making corrections with his neighbor could he go to the Father and offer his trespass offering and expect it to be accepted. He could not “skip a step”!
Dear one, do you have something between a brother or sister that you need to correct? What is stopping you from taking care of it? I ask this, not because we live under the Old Testament, but because we live under the New! Jesus taught this same principle we read in Leviticus 6. Even in Matthew 18:15, He makes a point of saying if you have some trespass (sin) against another, then go and deal with it one-on-one and try to gain a brother. How many problems might be avoided, how many misunderstandings and hurt feelings might be resolved if we dealt with the person one-on-one instead of telling the “world” about the issue or speaking in vague ways on social media about the person?
In like manner, how many relationships might have been salvaged in Moses’ day if people did what was taught in Leviticus 6 and they tried to make it right between themselves? The Old Testament has much to teach us (Rom. 15:4). Are we listening?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When the Jews offered sacrifices, we note that God has something to say about what happened to the blood of the sacrifices. Eight times in Leviticus, we read where God expected the priests (or Moses) to put blood on the horns of the altar, and then the rest of the blood was to be poured “at the bottom of the altar” (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34, 5:9, 8:15, 9:9).
As I read these passages and thought about the animals offered, I got to thinking that it would not take long for this area to stink and, on occasion, have blood pooled up around the altar after the priests had offered many sacrifices. In the days of Solomon when the Temple was built, the Bible speaks of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep offered to God (I Kings 8:63)! Think of feast days such as the Passover and other times when the multitudes had gathered and offered their sacrifices! Can we fathom the volume of blood that poured from that altar?
Is there any wonder why God required the numerous washings by the priests and commanded them to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle and Temple? Their hands and feet would have been coated in blood! I wonder how long it would be before the laver itself, once filled with water for their purification, had become blood-red?
Why did God require blood in connection with the sacrifices? “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Blood was necessary in God’s plan. These people needed to see the price of sin. They needed to understand that the consequences of sin were bloody and ugly. They needed to know that sin affected more than just the individual and that, yes, sometimes the innocent will suffer for the deeds of the wicked!
Don’t we also need to understand the price of sin? Don’t we also need to see that the consequences of our sins are bloody, ugly, and affect other people besides ourselves? Don’t we need an object lesson that our sins will hurt innocent people? I believe if we truly faced what our sins do, then sin would not look the same to us anymore! It would repulse us, and we would want to get away from it. Just like when Judas threw the money back at the chief priests and elders in the Temple after Jesus was condemned to death (Matt. 27:1-5), we also would run away from our sins when we understand what it did to the innocent One!
Remember that Christ, the “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), died as the sacrifice for man’s sin. He suffered, and His blood poured out from His various wounds as He died on the cross (Zech. 13:1)! Look with the eye of faith to His sacrifice and understand “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Yes, the “Just” suffered for the “unjust” (I Pet. 3:18)! His blood was shed “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). After He died, a cruel soldier pierced His side “and forthwith came there out blood and water” (Jn. 19:34).
Every time blood was shed and poured at the altar in Old Testament days, it pointed to the blood of the innocent One whose blood could take away sin (Heb. 9:24-26, 10:4)! His blood poured down to the ground and pooled around the cross for a time. Perhaps folks there stepped in it? We know there were many gathered around His cross (Jn. 19:24-27; Mk. 15:29-32; Matt. 27:47-49). I am sure some Roman soldiers had Christ’s literal blood on their hands and clothes since some argued and gambled over His bloody garment (Matt. 27:35, Jn. 19:24), and others had whipped and beat Jesus’ back (Matt. 27:26; Mk. 15:15; Jn. 19:1)! No doubt Christ’s blood could be seen at the whipping post, and from here, one could follow His blood trail to Golgotha! Now, as Christ is suspended between heaven and earth, we see Jesus’ blood drip down and pool at the ground! What a bloody altar the cross is!
The people of the Old Testament knew something about blood and something about the cost of sin. Do we appreciate that cost? Jesus died so we might live (II Cor. 5:14-15; Rom. 12:1-2). His stripes heal us (Isa. 53:5; I Pet. 2:24)! His blood cleanses us (Rev. 1:5, 7:14)! His blood purchased the church (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19)! Have we ever paused to consider the actual cost of sin and the magnificence of Christ’s sacrifice?
When the Jewish people looked at the bloody altar at the Tabernacle or Temple, they came to realize the reality of sin. What will we do when we look at Christ’s blood?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read through the book of Leviticus, we see God mandating what is necessary to do in the various sacrifices and offerings that are brought to Him. He is exact in the method of sacrifice, who is to do it, etc. He not only discusses these things but also talks about what was to be done with the entrails, skin, dung, and other aspects of the animals that people tend to forget when reading about sacrifices. As we noted in an earlier study, since we have fewer people familiar with what it takes to process an animal so that the meat is suitable for eating, fewer think about what happens to the parts of the animals that are not eaten!
God in His wisdom made provisions for every part of these animals. When we read such passages as Leviticus 4:11-12, 8:17, 9:11, and 16:27-28, we see God commanding the priests to take the skin, the entrails, the dung, and remove them outside of the city to be burned. This is repeated in Numbers 19:1-10 and other places.
Why was this important to God to specify that the bull’s head, the skin, the entrails, dung, etc., was to be taken and burned? Indeed, we can comment upon a spiritual truth. No doubt, these actions foreshadowed the time described by the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 13:11-13. Just as the sacrifice was taken outside the city walls, so also Jesus was taken, and killed outside the walls of Jerusalem (Mk. 15:20-24; Jn. 19:17-18)!
Might I suggest that this command also helped them in a physical way? Remember that these people did not know about communicable diseases, microbes, viruses, and other things we are aware of today. They had no understanding about how diseases might be spread! For centuries, many who had been wounded in war died excruciating deaths, not from their wounds, but from the gangrene, blood poisoning and other problems that crept up from the lack of hygiene in the surgery tents on the battlefields and in the hospitals.
Have we ever considered the fact that God was providing a way by which men might be safe from disease? This came not only in the destruction of the animal’s parts that carried disease but also in the various washings (Ex. 29:17, 30:20-21, 40:12; Lev. 11:25-40; Lev. 13-15; Num. 19:7-10)? What about the statement that, in some instances, men are “unclean” for a day? With certain skin diseases, they were considered unclean for a week, etc. This form of “quarantine” allowed the sick time to bathe and time to change clothes. If the disease demanded a longer quarantine time, then this permitted the person to recover and not expose family members, the tribe, etc., to the same illness!
Consider the fact that God forbade the people from drinking water that had first touched a dead carcass (Lev. 11:36). Might we venture a guess as to why God said don’t drink that water? Yes, I believe they (and we) could make a spiritual application to this, but might there also have been a physical, bodily reason why God wouldn’t want people drinking water that had first touched a dead thing?
In Leviticus 13:44-55, we see laws concerning the leprous people. Notice that they had to cry “Unclean” as people approached them. Why? Again, notice God expected them to cover their upper lips. Why cover the lips? Is it not for the same reason we teach our children to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze? God went so far in this text as to say if the leprosy was on their clothes, then burn their clothes! Why do this? I think we understand now what God was doing.
God’s rules are not arbitrary. Though men might not always understand the purpose when it is spoken, there is reason and logic for God saying what He has said. These few examples bear this out. In a time when men thought nothing of diseases and spread them to others, God knew about them and caused His people to make provisions so that they might be healthy in spirit and also in body!
Once we understand this truth, look into the New Testament and think about the various rules concerning marriage (Matt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4), drinking (I Pet. 4:3-4), obedience to parents (Eph. 6:1-4), and numerous other statements of God. In light of what we have learned, we can know that God’s commands, His rules, are not just random thoughts. They have true meaning and purpose that allows us to not only prepare for the life to come but also allows us to enjoy life now!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs