was ready to make the purchase of a life-time. One of my most favorite books was in stock, and I was prepared for a good read. The merchant behind the desk waved me forward to the front counter. I laid the book down on the counter without hesitation and smiled at the merchant, hoping that my look would give away my excitement and lead to conversation. To my disappointment, the worker treated me like any other client. She grabbed my book and seemed to hate every second doing it. Within the next minute, she would say something that I wasn't prepared to hear.
She screamed it so loud that I was pretty sure the whole store heard it. Just then, I realized that I didn't have enough money in my account to purchase the book. I was so excited that I had forgotten to check my account.
She repeated it. I was sure that this was the most embarrassed I had ever been in my life. To this day, I have no clue why she screamed it so loud. It made me seem like I was some security threat. All I had was no money and wasn't some robber. But judging my the looks of the lady, that was probably the most exciting thing she had ever done at the job. One thing was sure, I was unauthorized to make the purchase because I didn't have the resources in my account to draw from.
Likewise, this rang true for the Sons of Aaron. They were unauthorized to offer fire before the Lord. As we unpack this, I am certain that you will learn the importance of being led by the fire of God, as well as the way in which we are offer our lives before Him. Now, let's take a closer look at our scripture.
"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized[a] fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord has said: 'Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And Aaron held his peace.." (Leviticus 10:1-4)"
After the plagues. After the exodus. Israel found themselves in a desert and need of structure, organization, and communication between God and man. Aaron was chosen by God to be the leader of the priesthood. They would become the royal family that would intercede for the sins of the people. As a priest, they were responsible for keeping the fire going in the tabernacle. However, on this day, the day of our scripture, the sons of Aaron would be accountable for something besides fire. Just as soon as they were chosen as priests, our Scripture teaches us that they took unapproved authorization and begin to create a fire of their own. Fire that was not rooted in the Word of God. The fire that they would create would be of their own making and not the making of God. Because of this, the Lord would use them as an example to reveal the power behind an offering. God would teach them that it's not about the fire itself; it's how you use it.
Years later, there would be a man who would offer the right kind of fire before the Lord. His name was Jesus. John the Baptist had this to say the man that would hang between two criminals.
"As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Matthew 3:11)
John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize His beloved with the Holy Spirit and fire! Think about that. The Holy Spirit is a flame meant to set ablaze our entire life, and yet, oftentimes, we use it as nothing more as a spiritual transaction to get into heaven.
The Role of Fire In The Sons of Aaron
Fire has played perhaps one of the most significant roles in the advancement of civilization. Practically no manufacturing would be possible apart from the use of fire to break down and shape materials for use. Lives have depended upon the energy given by the biggest fire ever near the earth, the sun.
Each one of us knows how much our earth depends on the sun giving its light, and yet we don't take the same approach with the fire of God as Christians. In the same way that we depend on the sun to give us light, the world (no matter if they say it or not) depends on the fire of the church to lead the way. And yet, instead of us using the fire of God as a resource for others, we use it as a means of salvation, a ticket to use when we go from this life to the next. My friends, heaven is significant, but let's not forget heaven is supposed to flow through us.
Jesus came to show us not only how to die, but also how to live. Instead, we take the fire of God and begin to use it for our pleasure. We sit and shrivel at our jobs, scared to call out the fire of God upon the lives of those around us.
Many of us Christians have spent more time lighting the flames of our achievements while simultaneously maintaining the appearance of authorized fire in our lives.
God acted quickly on the sons of Aaron to illustrate the importance of authorized fire. The fire was not for the sons of Aaron; they were for the people of God. Without the fire, the people would not have what they needed to serve the Lord.
The fire was for the people, not the sons of Aaron. This reminds me of the words of Jesus in Luke 11:33. It reads:
"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light." (Luke 11:33)
Jesus was imploring His disciples to consider the fire they been given by His life. Why would they ever hide the fire that was in them? According to Jesus, if they hid it, how would other people see? If they would not become the lights of the world, then there would be no other options for the people of God.
Does that sound familiar? The sons of Aaron were not only responsible for their fire, but the fire of others. The one who offers unauthorized fire seeks to maintain themselves during the midst of the fire. On the other hand, the one who offers authorized fire allows the fire itself to burn them up for others.
Many of us Christians have spent more time lighting the flames of our achievements while simultaneously maintaining the appearance of authorized fire in our lives. When we take a closer look at our own lives, are they being authorized by ourselves or by God? God gave the sons of Aaron a great authorization.
"The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out…" (Leviticus 6:13)
Church, let us not forget the great authorization God has give us… keep the fire going!
How to Keep the Fire Going
For the sons of Aaron, as soon as they started leading the fire by themselves, the fire became unauthorized. It was only when the fire led them, were their offerings pleasing to the Lord. Being led by the fire, was something God Himself revealed to them and personally mandated.
Did you know that you can have the fire of the Holy Spirit but run for something else?
"By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.." (Exodus 13:21)
God illustrated to them the way in which He leads His people, by fire! The problem for the sons of Aaron was this simple truth. They stopped being led by the fire. It went out in them, and their offerings became unauthorized.
Did you know that you can have the fire of the Holy Spirit but run for something else? You can have the flame of God's Spirit but burn for your control of your life. You can have the flame of God in your life but burn for someone else's approval.
Do you realize that the sons of Aaron fooled every one in the desert beside the presence of the Lord? This disposition seemed to have run in the family. In the verses preceding Leviticus 10:1-4, we read this account:
"12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his surviving sons: "Take the grain offering that is left of the Lord's food offerings, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons' due, from the Lord's food offerings, for so I am commanded. 14 But the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons' due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel. 15 The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the Lord, and it shall be yours and your sons' with you as a due forever, as the Lord has commanded." 16 Now Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it was burned up! And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the surviving sons of Aaron, saying, 17 "Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, since it is a thing most holy and has been given to you that you may bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord?
The remaining sons of Aaron still had trouble realizing the meaning behind the sin offering. The self-reflecting nature of their sacrificing wouldn't suffice when it came to leading the people of God in offerings. Again, it was not about the offerings God gave them, but what they would do with the offering.
In the end, we must all give an account for the fire God has given us.
As soon as the sons of Aaron were given the authorization to keep the fire going, it revealed the true intentions behind their offerings. When the Lord takes a look at your fire, what words will He say? Authorized or Unauthorized?
Institute of Biblical Studies. “The Sons Of Aaron.” ibsresources.org.
Chadbad-Lubavitch. “Why did the Two Oldest Sons of Aaron Die? chadbad.org. 2003.
Got Question Ministries. “Why was it bad that Aaron and his sons burned the sin offering in Leviticus 10:16–20?” gotquestions.org.
Bible Gateway. “Leviticus 10-study-bible.” biblegateway.org.