“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron went before the Lord but did it improperly. They took fire pans and after mixing their offering in the pan presented it before the Lord. But these offerings were consider “strange fire before the Lord” and fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them.” (Lev 10:1-2 NAS)
At first, our reaction would seem to be shock and surprise – that seems rather harsh that God would destroy them because the offering was not done correctly. But the key, again, is that we humans tend to think that we can set the standard by which God needs to operate and we like to define what is fair or unfair; what is appropriate and not appropriate. This passage is a strong reminder that God has very different standards that we do and, to be quite honest, God is not concerned about what we think is fair or appropriate – what God expects is the only thing that matters. Notice verse three:
“Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.” (Lev 10:3 NAS)
Even Aaron was disturbed by this event as we would expect. His sons have just died trying to serve the Lord and it seems that the punishment does not fit the crime. When God “justifies” His act to punish Aaron’s sons for their irreverence toward Him it hits Aaron like a concussion impact. Aaron keeps silent. God demands that His people, especially leaders, treat Him as holy and they must honor God before others. God even charges the people not to mourn for these two that have died because to do so would honor these men above God (v. 6). The idea is that they are not allowed to honor those who do not honor God or they will face the same judgement.
God does not have to play fair. That does not mean that God is unjust; it means that our perception of what is fair has deviated from God’s expectation of justice and fairness and so it seems to us that God is unfair. God is God and He has the right to demand what He chooses and He will not share His glory with anyone. He alone is worthy of our worship, praise, adoration, and devotion. He has every right to set His own standards and expectations on how we are to treat Him and nothing but that is worthy of who He is.
I am challenged that for those who claim to know God and especially those who are leaders among God’s people must always treat God as holy. We must honor Him above ourselves. Our need to protect ourselves, or honor ourselves is double jeopardy – we serve Him, we must honor Him, we must always treat Him as holy. The best posture of all of us is on our knees before His throne of grace, willingly submitted under His authority and willing to follow and obey no matter what.