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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Leviticus 10

 

 


Verses 1-7

EXPOSITION

THE DEATH OF NADAB AND ABIHU, THE SONS OF AARON (Leviticus 10:1-7). The first day of Aaron's ministry had not yet closed. He had offered the sacrifices, and had entered into the holy place with Moses, and had returned to the court of the tabernacle, where the people had been standing in mute expectation, and God had shown his approval and his confirmation of him in his priestly acts by consuming the sacrifices, as they lay on the altar, with a miraculous fire emblematic of himself, when a rash act on the part of his two eldest children changed the day from one of rejoicing to one of mourning. It would seem that Nadab and Abihu, being already in a slate of exaltation from the events of the day, in which they had taken so prominent a part, felt bound, when the fire came forth from God, and the people shouted and fell on their times, to lake some step whereby to acknowledge on the part of the people the graciousness displayed so visibly by the Lord. Moses and Aaron had been parted from them when they went into the tabernacle, and were now facing the congregation, the ministers rather of God to man than of man to God, and Nadab and Abihu appear to have regarded themselves as the representatives of tile people. Without waiting for instructions, they rose from their prostration, and, preparing to make a return to God for his gift of fire by the offering of incense symbolical of prayer, they lit their censers from one of the fires which had been made for boiling the sacrificial flesh, and, putting incense upon them, started forward, with the intention of carrying the burning incense to the golden altar of prayer in the holy place. They reached the door of the tabernacle, where Moses and Aaron were standing, when they were met by a blast of the same fire which had already swept to the brazen altar, and they fell dead. They had acted presumptuously. They had not, like Eleazar and Ithamar, waited for the Divine command, but, in their haste, they had irreverently broken the custom, which rested upon a Divine command, of taking the fire for the altar of incense from the altar of burnt sacrifice alone. The fact that this offense was the transgression of a positive rather than of a moral precept, would have made the lesson the more complete and emphatic. They—the newly ordained priests—had, with whatever good intentions, done what God had not commanded, and in doing it had done what he had forbidden. Like Uzzah afterwards (2 Samuel 6:7), they died for it, that others might fear to do the same. Will-worship (Colossians 2:23) received thereby an emphatic condemnation, and priests and people were taught, in a manner not to be forgotten, that "to obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22).

Leviticus 10:1

Nadab and Ahibu are said to have each taken his censer. This is the first time that the word used in the original is translated "censer." It means any vessel or pan that will hold embers or tinder (see Exodus 25:38; Exodus 27:3, 23; Exodus 28:3). They put fire therein, and put incense thereon. No doubt they used the incense ordered in Exodus 30:34. They are not found fault with for the incense, but for the fire that they used. They offered strange fire, that is, fire not taken from the altar of burnt offering, which they might have feared to approach after the miracle that had occurred. In Exodus 16:12 it is ordered that, on the Day of Atonement, the incense fire should be taken from the brazen altar, and this was no doubt the rule on all occasions, though the law has not been recorded.

Leviticus 10:2

And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured. These are the exact words used in Le Leviticus 9:24 of the fire that consumed the sacrifices. The fire was the same; its source was the same; its effect was the same, and yet how different! They died before the Lord; that is, they were struck dead at the door of the tabernacle.

Leviticus 10:3

This is that the Lord spake (see Exodus 19:22; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:44; Le 8:33). God will be sanctified either by the obedience or by the punishment of those that come nigh him, that is, his priests. If they have greater privileges, they have greater perils (cf. Matthew 11:21). Aaron held his peace—in submission (see Psalms 39:9; Job 1:22), acknowledging that Moses had justified the act of God in executing so terrible a judgment.

Leviticus 10:4

Uzziel was the youngest brother of Amram (see Exodus 6:18-22). His sons, Mishael and Elzaphan, were therefore second cousins of Nadab and Abihu, who are here called their brethren. (Cf. the use of the term "brothers of the Lord," applied probably to his first cousins in the New Testament.)

Leviticus 10:5

They went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp. Their coats were the tunics which they had put on as their priestly attire (Leviticus 8:13). The lightning flash which had struck them down had not injured their clothes. As Mishael and Elzaphan became ceremonially defiled by contact with the corpses, and as the Passover was now at hand, it has been thought that it was in reference to their case that the concession was made, that those d, filed by a dead body might keep the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second instead of the first month (Numbers 9:6-11). The defilement caused by death ceased when Christ had died.

Leviticus 10:6

Uncover not your heads. They are to abstain from all the conventional signs of mourning, in order to show that they acknowledged the justice of the punishment. The whole house of Israel, that is, the people in general, might mourn the death of their priests, but the high priest and his remaining sons must prove their submission to the Divine chastisement by crushing their individual feelings of sorrow. A murmur on their part would have brought God's wrath on themselves and on the whole congregation, which they represented (Leviticus 4:3). Uncover not your heads may be otherwise translated, Let not your hair fall disheveled (see Le Leviticus 21:10).

Leviticus 10:7

The priests are not to be taken away from their duties at the door of the tabernacle, that is, the court in front of the tabernacle, even for the sake of burying their dead. They had now been in the court for eight days continuously, and they had to remain there until, in the fulfillment of their public function, they had eaten the sacrificial meal. Cf. Matthew 8:21, Matthew 8:22, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me." God's service comes before all things.

HOMILETICS

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:2

The sinfulness of man mars the full effect of the good purposes of God

on the very day of the consecration of the priests.

I. THE SIN OF NADAB AND ABIHU. Presumption. They chose their own method of returning thanks and giving praise to God, a method unsanctioned by God's command, unauthorized by their official superiors.

II. THEIR PUNISHMENT. Death. We might have thought that a lesser penalty would have sufficed for such a sin, if we had not had their example before us.

III. ITS LESSONS.

1. The necessity of obedience to positive precepts as well as moral commands. Moral commands, which rest for their basis on some reason which we can apprehend, being in their nature of far greater importance than positive precepts, which are binding simply because they have been ordered, we are tempted to undervalue the latter. We say, "I know God's purpose, and will carry it out; it is slavish to be bound by the letter. He will prefer the course which has now become the best to that which he commanded under perhaps altered circumstances." This arises from pride. We make ourselves judges of God's purposes, in respect to which we are in truth ignorant or can at best guess blindly. There may be a thousand other objects of the Divine counsels beside that which we think that we see, which we regard as the only one. The questions which alone we must ask are, "Does this injunction come from God? and does it affect me?" If so, we must obey it without respect to consequences, and we may not substitute for it a course of action which appears to ourselves better adapted to effect the end which we suppose to be in view.

2. The special necessity of this obedience in Divine warship. God knows how he wills to be worshipped, and why he should be so worshipped. Man does not. Under the old dispensation, the forms of worship appointed by him were typical. What they were typical of' he knew, but man did not; therefore man could not judge of their propriety. Under the new dispensation, he has by positive injunction appointed two rites—the sacrament of Baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. To dispense with either of them would be an act of the highest presumption. He appointed certain forms by which they were to be administered. Human authority may not in baptism change water for any other element, or substitute other words than those appointed, nor may it alter the form of the consecration in the administration of the Holy Communion; nor when Christ has said, "Drink ye all of this," may it, without sin, enjoin, "Ye shall not all drink of it."

3. Human authority to be obeyed where God has not spoken. There must be regulations of some kind for Divine worship, and these it is the office of the Church to supply, ordaining, abolishing, and changing, as it seems good from time to time. "Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain … ceremonies or rites of the Church;" and also "to change and abolish" them when "ordained by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying" (Art. 34). When once ordained, they have a binding force over the conscience until abolished by the same authority. "Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the tradition and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, as he that offendeth against the common order of the Chinch, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren" (Ibid.). Although the intention be good, though the purpose be to improve the worship of God, and, as in the case of Nadab and Abihu, to light up in the sanctuary the golden altar of incense and prayer, yet, if a man act without the authority of his Church, he is guilty of presumption, and will have to bear his iniquity,

Leviticus 10:2

Fire

was the instrument of the destruction of Nadab and Ahihu, whilst just before it had been the means of consuming the sacrifice, and in passing to the altar it had probably bathed Moses and Aaron in its harmless flames as they stood at the door of the tabernacle. Thus it is that the same thing serves as a means of glorification or of destruction, according to the qualities of that with which it comes in contact. The discipline of daily life makes one a saint, another a more determined sinner. The discipline of suffering softens one heart, hardens another. The difficulties of religious belief make one the more submissive, another an unbeliever. God is the joy of the believer and the misery of the infidel. And so we may suppose that it will be hereafter. The presence of God will be the exceeding great reward of those who have sought him, and that same presence would be the torture of those who have not submitted their wills to his. It may be that this in itself will be sufficient to constitute the punishment of the unrighteous in the world to come.

Leviticus 10:3

Increase of privilege involves increase of danger.

The nearer men are brought to God, the more liable they are to chastening at his hands. This is more particularly the case with those who are made his ministers. What might pass unpunished in others will be punished in them. What would be allowed in others will not be allowed in them (Leviticus 10:6). Had Nadab and Abihu not been called to be priests, they would not have met their untimely fate; and had Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar been laymen, they would have been permitted to make use of the ordinary signs of mourning for their dead. But God's work must come before any other duty, and if it be not done as God has willed it to be done, a sorer punishment will fall upon those who have specially devoted themselves to the immediate service of God than on others. This is a solemn thought for those who are ordained to be the ministers of God.

HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR

Leviticus 10:1-11

Counterfeit fire.

cf. Acts 5:1-42. We have considered the consecration both of the high priest and of the minor priests, and how, entering upon their office in expectation of a sign, they got it in the outflash of the "consuming fire." But sad to say, two of the minor priests so provoke the Lord by their presumption that they are instantly consumed. Having already contrasted the high priest's consecration with Christ's baptism, and the descent of the fire with the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost, we cannot resist the parallel presented by the case of Ananias and Sapphira to this case of Nadab and Abihu. If believers are rightly regarded as "priests unto God," then the case of Ananias and Sapphira is one of presumption in an assumed priesthood. The parallel will help us to definite ideas about the sin.

I. HONOUR IS OFTENTIMES TOO MUCH FOR SOME MINDS. And it is generally a minor class of mind that gets intoxicated with position and success. Nadab and Abihu, elevated to the priesthood, are so elated as to suppose that everything becomes them. Moreover, allied with this mental intoxication and excitement there often is physical intoxication. Indulgence is thought a proper thing for the upstart, and so he leads his presumption by excess. The probabilities are in favour of supposing that Nadab and Abihu had indulged in wine or strong drink immediately on their elevation to the priesthood (cf. Acts 5:9, Acts 5:10), and, in consequence, were incapacitated for distinguishing between the holy fire and its unholy counterfeit. It is not every one who can stand a "full cup," or walk with it steadily. If with honour there comes not a quiet spirit, it becomes a curse rather than a blessing.

II. SELF-CONFIDENCE IS THE NATURAL RESULT OF THE INTOXICATION OF SUCCESS. Nadab and Abihu, in their folly, think that they can guide themselves in priestly duty. Their venerable uncle, Moses, is not to be consulted by such dignitaries as they are. They can approach the Divine presence in a perfectly new and original way. The fire which came originally from heaven, and which has been most carefully preserved as a sacred deposit, is not, they believe, a bit better than fire they themselves can kindle. They will not depend upon it, but furnish a good fire themselves. Their spirit is sell-confidence all through. The license of innovation was most uncalled for at such a time, seeing that the ritual was only in process of reception from heaven. There was no excuse for their course at all.

III. GOD NEVER GRANTS A MANIFESTATION, BUT SATAN GETS UP THROUGH SELF-CONFIDENT MEN A COUNTERFEIT. Nadab and Abihu believed they could produce as good a fire as God. Ananias and Sapphire believed that hypocrisy could conduct itself as creditably as Pentecostal devotion. To every suggestion of a "year of grace," there comes the counter-suggestion of a "year of delusion." All fire is equally common, or, for that matter, equally sacred, to the self-confident mind. Special inspirations are incredible. Censers can be filled on the most rational principles, and God does not refuse any man's person.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, conveys the idea of counterfeit eloquence, a loveless exhibition of oratory that casual observers might pronounce angelic; of counterfeit enthusiasm, and even faith, so that neither mysteries nor mountains can retard the loveless spirit's prayers; of counterfeit martyrdoms, giving up the body to be burned after giving up fortune to the poor; and yet, because love is wanting in such cases, they constitute an unacceptable and profitless service.

IV. THOSE WHO PRESUME WITH THEIR COUNTERFEITS MUST ACCEPT OF THE JUDGMENT THEY DESERVE. Nadab and Abihu, despising the Divine fire, and coming into competition with their own, are consumed by it. In a moment they experience how God is a "consuming fire' to all presumption. Ananias and Sapphira feel the same. They fall before the deserved vengeance of the Most High. God offers us the great alternative—either sanctification through the fire of the Holy Ghost, or destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. God will be sanctified in some way: if the wrath of man does not turn to praise, it will glorify God in being restrained (Psalms 76:10).

V. IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD ONLY ACCEPTS WHAT HE HIMSELF INSPIRES. This is the lesson of this sad providence. We must bring back to God what he has given. Independent offerings are not acceptable. To come to him in a way of our own devising, instead of by Jesus Christ; to come to him in a self-confident spirit, instead of in the humility inspired by the Holy Ghost; to come to him with proud, cold hearts, instead of with warm and ardent ones, is to be sent empty away. He refuses all such counterfeit offerings; he must have Divine fire or none.—R.M.E.

Leviticus 10:3-7; 12-20

Submission in bereavement.

cf. 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Job 1:18-21; John 11:1-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The conduct of Aaron under the bereavement is most instructive. He holds his peace and is prepared to do whatever Muses commands. And here we have to notice—

I. GOD'S SERVICE AND GLORY MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE OF EVERY OTHER CONSIDERATION. The surviving priests were to leave the mourning and the funeral arrangements to their brethren. The bereavement is not to interfere with their priestly service and consecration. God asserts his claims as paramount. "He that loveth father or mother more than me," said God incarnate, "is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37). It is ideally possible, therefore, to be so filled with a sense of consecration to God that every other consideration is made to dwindle into insignificance. Is not this what we shall realize in heaven?

II. SUBMISSION TO GOD'S CLEARLY EXPRESSED WILL IS A RELIEF TO THE SOUL WHICH HAS BEEN UNCERTAIN BEFORE IT. The thought that God willed the death of those dear to us, has a wonderfully calming influence upon us. We may see no reason for the stroke, and God may not for a long season show us his reason, but we can believe he has one and a good one, and. that "he doeth all things well." The death of Nadab and Abihu was as clearly a token from God as the previous manifestation. Job, again, shows the same submissive spirit under a still greater bereavement (Job 1:18-21). So did David on the death of his child (2 Samuel 12:15-23). So did Mary and Martha on the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-57.). All these worthies rested, as we all may rest, and there is no other rest but in the will of an all-wise God. Uncertainty is trying, but even the certainty of bereavement and of sorrow has an element of rest in it.

III. AARON IS CAUTIONED AGAINST ANY USE OF WINE OR STRONG DRINK WHEN ENGAGED IN PRIESTLY SERVICE. Doubtless the primary significance of this injunction was, as already noticed, that Nadab and Abihu had erred therein. But it seems to carry also a beneficial caution. For at no time are people more tempted to resort to wine and strong drink than when in bereavement. A little stimulus, they fancy, will sustain them. So they take to "the bottle" to replenish their courage. The result is that they fall into deeper troubles than ever. Aaron is the better of this injunction to abstain at this time when his sorrow is so keen.

IV. SORROW NECESSITATED FASTING INSTEAD OF FEASTING. After the terrible trial, Aaron and his surviving sons had no appetite for the feasting to which they were entitled; and so they seem to have burned the sin offering in its entirety instead of eating of it. Moses, in directing the sorrowing priests to proceed to the feast of fellowship, made no due allowance for their condition. Aaron instinctively saw the incongruity of feasting when his heart was so sore, and therefore he acted in the spirit of the Law, which disposed of what could not be used in the fire of the altar.

And might not those who turn a house of mourning into a house of feasting learn a lesson of propriety here? Eating and drinking in connection with wakes and funerals have been carried oftentimes to most unseemly excess. The whole spirit of sorrow evaporates before the copious offerings to the "belly-god," and instead of spiritual profit there is spiritual deterioration.

Fasting is an effort of nature to say a word for the spirit within. Sorrow takes the edge off appetite, and rebukes feasting that the soul may have a season of repair. If the sad heart gets fair play, it will emerge from its sorrows purified and elevated.

V. THE SPIRIT MAY SOMETIMES MOST PROPERLY SUPERSEDE THE LETTER. We have seen how fatal was the innovation of the presumptuous priests. But in this same chapter we come across an innovation on the part of Aaron, at which Moses and God were content. There is all the difference between rigidity which must not be broken, and a law whose spirit can move freely amid its forms. It was the latter which God gave. There are necessities which arise from time to time and are themselves laws to the spiritual mind. We should be jealous of ourselves in the exercise of our liberty, but, at the same time, we ought to realize our freedom as God gives it to us in his Law.—R.M.E.

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:2

Disobedience swiftly punished.

What a contrast between the two scenes! Aaron and Moses entering the tabernacle and returning to bless the people and to participate in the rejoicing caused by the appearance of God's glory, and Nadab and Abihu approaching the same sacred place only to be consumed by the fire of judgment, their offerings rejected, themselves destroyed! The judgments of God are not pleasing to contemplate, but they are necessary to completeness of view, and to the begetting in us of due caution when we venture into his presence, lest our holy boldness degenerate into a presumptuous disregard of his regulations.

I. THE ACT OF RASH DISOBEDIENCE.

1. We see two brothers sinning against God. Brothers may be mutually helpful or injurious. To witness the union of members of a family in pious zeal is delightful, but too often relationship is provocative of harm rather than of blessing. Elder brothers, beware of leading your younger relations into sin!

2. Two that were intimately related to holy men were not thereby shielded from thoughtless action and severe judgment. Alas! that the children of godly parents should ever belie their ancestry. Here the sons of Aaron and nephews of Moses dishonoured their relationship.

3. Two young men brought destruction upon themselves and grief upon their friends. They died childless, and, if more than youths, could yet hardly have attained to any great age. Eleazar, the next brother, was perhaps not twenty at this time, for he was not included in the list of the men forbidden to see or enter the land of promise. We are apt to censure the evil deeds of young men too gently, and to look upon youth as more of an excuse than God seems here to regard it. Experience proves that if youth naturally inclines to sin, so also is it, equally with age, visited with righteous retribution.

4. Two that had been openly dedicated to the service of God were unmindful of his precepts. They had just been consecrated as priests. This did not prevent them from violating the Law, nor protect them from the consequences of their behaviour. There is danger as well as honour involved in waiting upon God. If Peter had not been called to the lofty position of discipleship, he had not denied his Master. By smiting these two priests, sons of the high priest, Jehovah taught the people that sin could be committed by, and would not be pardoned in, the most exalted of the nation. It was a conspicuous, forcible demonstration of the majesty and holiness of God.

5. Two that had recently beheld the glory of the Lord forgot the obedience their position demanded. Perhaps it was the very excitement consequent on such s scene that unduly elevated them, so that, becoming giddy, they reeled into the abyss of impetuous self-will and awful penalty. We must guard against imprudent familiar handling of Divine things after the grace of God has visited us with wondrous revelations of his mercy and favour. It is evident that even if displays of supernatural power were frequent, they would not prove a security against transgression. Some have turned the grace of God manifested in full and free salvation through Christ into a covering for licentiousness and irreverence.

II. THE GLOOMY CHANGE EFFECTED BY SIN.

1. A day of hallowed joy becomes a day of mourning. This is the bitter chequered experience of life. The sunny skies soon grow dark with clouds, the quiet waters are lashed into tempestuous fury. Men are almost afraid of seasons of ecstatic rejoicing, as if a reaction must quickly ensue; the gladness seems itself a presentiment of coming trouble. Sorrow treads close upon the heels of mirth. Sin may well excite in us sentiments of aversion when we see how it has disfigured the fair features of creation's landscape, changing songs into sighs and smiles into tears. Many a day that began with singing and prayer has ended with wailing and remorse.

2. The fire of Divine approval is changed in, to the fire of Divine wrath. The men became a sacrifice to God's glory indeed, but were not an offering voluntarily laid upon his altar. It seemed fitting that the punishment should bear an analogy to the sin. Strange fire was punished with hallowed fire. The conception of a mild Deity unmoved to indignation at acts unaccordant with his will is not justified by Scripture, nor is it in harmony with the utterances of conscience or the testimony borne by the existent laws of his moral government of the world.

3. Not even the profession of desire to honour God excuses the willful neglect of his injunctions. To substitute human inventions for scriptural institutions is a dangerous practice. Reason may discern little difference of moment, but it is not safe to argue that therefore the particular observance is immaterial, and rests on no rational ground of distinction. The loyalty that will presume to alter the king's ordinances is of doubtful character and certain of rejection.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 10:3

A bereaved parent.

Who can stand in the presence of death unmoved? A gulf separates us from the departed friend; the past is like a dream. The partnership between soul and body has been dissolved, and already the clay tabernacle, deprived of its tenant, shows signs of crumbling into decay. The form is the same, but the animating principle has fled. The casket has been rifled of its jewel; we survey the husk, but the kernel has vanished.

I. HERE WAS AN INSTANCE OF SUDDEN DEATH. This is the more startling. The festival is changed into a funeral. The active frame is motionless, the busy brain that teemed with thought is still; we call aloud, but there is no reply; we bend down to touch the lips, but we receive no responsive kiss. How weak is man, when a stroke deprives him of all his faculties, removes him from earthly ken, and his place knows him no more!

II. IT IS SAD WHEN CHILDREN DIE BEFORE THEIR PARENTS. Then the cup of bereavement contains an added element of bitterness. The natural order is inverted. Pathetic was the expression of Burke's grief at the loss of his only son. "I am stripped of all my honours; I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate. They who ought to have succeeded me have gone before me. They who should have been to me a posterity are in the place of ancestors." To see the budding rose suddenly blighted, all the promise of life unrealized, is enough to rend a parent's heart with disappointment.

III. IT IS SADDER STILL WHEN DEATH IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF THOUGHTLESS, SINFUL CONDUCT. Then no gleam of light tempers the darkness. If the flower be transplanted to adorn the heavenly garden, there will be joy at the thought to alleviate the sorrow. But when the removal appears like that of tares to be burned, who shall assuage the pangs of bereavement? Children! strive so to live that if Providence call you away in early life, the memory left behind may be sweet and fragrant, pleasant and reassuring. Let us not too hastily assume the death of the youthful to be a judgment. We may have no Moses at our side, as here, to interpret the harrowing scene. We would not rush instantly to adverse conclusions, nor misconceive the dispensation. Even in the case before us we are not warranted in deciding upon the ultimate fate of Nadab and Abihu. Death is truly in every case a particular instance of a general law. "This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified," etc. It ever reminds us of its connection with sin, and every time we are called to stand by the grave we should be impressed with a deeper sense of the enormity and awfulness of sin in God's sight. Beholding the effect, let us hate the cause.

IV. Aaron furnishes AN EXAMPLE OF FITTING BEHAVIOUR UNDER TRIAL. He could not rejoice to see the withering of his cherished hopes; God expects no such unnatural triumphing over the instincts of affection. But he refrained from murmuring, he "held his peace." "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." Open the quivering lips, and the pent-up agony of the spirit may find vent in the utterance of expostulations and reproaches unworthy of a child of God. Job's wife tempted him to "curse God and die," but he "sinned not with his lips." He was, indeed, able to say, "Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." It was after this that he "uttered that he understood not."

V. TO REPRESS REPINING IS ACCEPTED AS TACIT ACQUIESCENCE IN THE EQUITY OF DIVINE JUDGMENTS. His ways are often mysterious, but his wisdom cannot err nor his love prove unkind. The greatest degree of affection for our fellow-creatures must never be allowed to lessen our supreme regard for the glory of the Creator. "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." Listen to the voice from under the trees of the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, not my will, but thine be done." Fond parents have sacrificed their children for the good of the commonwealth, how much more shall they be content to leave them in the hands of God, to be dealt with according to his infinite justice and mercy! It was the glory of the Father that necessitated the surrender of his beloved Son to death for the redemption of the world.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 10:6, Leviticus 10:7

Restrictions and infirmities of religious service.

That honour involves responsibility is implied in many of these ordinances, and is recognized in the judgment passed on the conduct of men occupying conspicuous positions in society and in the Church. To be dedicated to God's service was an inestimable privilege conferred on Aaron and his family, Their time and labour were bestowed upon high and holy employments, The seal of God was stamped upon their brow, the people regarded them with respect and provided for their maintenance. Compare the honourable position of ministers, missionaries, yea, all the followers of Christ now, and note that there arc special restrictions consequent upon their consecration, and common infirmities to which they are subject equally with others.

I. THE RESTRICTIONS.

1. Forbidden to mingle with the world in its engagements. "Not go out of the sanctuary," at least for a season, they are deprived of the liberty others enjoy, Pursuits which may be harmlessly indulged in by others are unbecoming to them.

2. Prohibited from contact with all that is defiling. They must not touch the dead bodies of their relations; the cousins of Aaron shall perform the last offices for their brethren. What concord hath the Spirit of life with death? To profane the holy unction is to incur the Divine displeasure. "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient." "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."

3. Free manifestation of grief at God's visitations not permitted. The usual relief found in expression is excluded; there must be no signs of mourning upon the priests. Let it suffice for the nation to "bewail the burning." How shall the oil of gladness consort with mourning? The people of God are not to be demonstrative in their sorrow at his chastisements, lest it be misconstrued, and others, taking occasion from their example, go further and even denounce the ways of God, and so "wrath come upon" them. We must remember the wisdom of the Almighty and the glory due unto his Name. Will not the world entertain hard thoughts concerning him if we his servants are over-loud in lamentation?

II. THE INFIRMITIES which are not prevented.

1. They are subject to the common losses and bereavements. There is no special providence in this respect. Even Aaron and his sons have to bow before afflicting dispensations. If it were otherwise great part of the discipline of life would be omitted from the training of God's chiefest scholars.

2. They also feel the natural pangs of sorrow. It is evidently so in the present case, or the command to refrain from the usual manifestations of grief would not have been issued. God's ministers are not expected to become hard-hearted and callous, but they are not to give way to outbursts of anguish.

3. They are liable to commit acts displeasing to God. Nadab and Abihu are a solemn warning of the possibility of transgression. Even Christians of repute fall into grievous sin. They get hurried away by worldly passion, and offer unacceptable worship.

CONCLUSION. Observe the influence of our behaviour upon

He who expects great things of us wilt also, if we ask him, accord us the necessary strength to enable us to comply with his demands. Whilst conscious of the importance attaching to all our actions, we need not be depressed with a load of anxiety. We may "rejoice in the Lord alway."—S.R.A.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

Leviticus 10:1-7

Nadab and Abihu,

When the fire of God came upon the sacrifices, "the people shouted, and fell on their faces." While thus in an attitude of prayer, Nadab and Abihu snatched their censers, put fire into them, and put incense upon the fire, as though to send up the prayers of the people to God. In this they sinned, and in consequence paid a fearful penalty. Let us consider—

I. THE NATURE OF THEIR SIN. We are told:

1. That they offered strange fire to God.

2. That they acted without direction.

II. THE LESSONS OF THE PUNISHMENT.

1. God is not to be trifled with.

2. His vengeance is often retributive.

3. His retributions are sometimes summary.

4. Mourning for the dead has its laws and limitations.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Leviticus 10:1-3

Sin and penalty in sacred things.

The story of the guilt and doom of the sons of Aaron constitutes a sad episode in the recital of the sacred precepts of the Law. We look at—

1. THE CHARACTER OF THE TRANSGRESSION. It appears (from Leviticus 10:16, compared with Le Leviticus 9:15) that this forbidden act was done very soon indeed after the solemnities described in the preceding chapter (9). Otherwise we should have inferred that it was familiarity with sacred rites which had bred irreverent unconcern, and issued in disobedience. We seem shut up to the conclusion that these young men, even when the solemn inaugural scenes were fresh in their memories, and. the commandments of the Lord clearly before their minds, deliberately and wantonly took fire from another source than the heaven-kindled flame on the brazen altar (Leviticus 9:24). Their action was, therefore, not only a defiant violation of the Law they had received from Moses, the servant of Jehovah, but it was a perverse disregard of the manifest will of God, made known in special supernatural disclosure.

II. THE EXPLANATION OF THE PUNISHMENT. (Leviticus 10:2.) This may seem severe, has seemed so to some. Why not exclusion from office or excommunication from the congregation of the Lord? Why the extreme penalty for one act of error in worship? The answer is manifold.

1. Their deed was (as has been said) an act of willful and wanton disobedience.

2. It was committed by those who were in high position.

3. It was a sin on the part of men in the enjoyment of high privilege, and in the exercise of no slight influence.

4. It was an evil thing done in the holy place and before the very face of God; it was disobedience in connection with the public worship of Jehovah—the supreme sphere of activity, in regard to which it was of vital consequence to the nation that everything should be done aright.

5. One signal mark of high displeasure might be mercy as well as justice—inspiring holy awe and saving many others from similar transgressions.

III. THE LESSONS WHICH THE SIN AND THE PENALTY LEAVE BEHIND THEM. We learn from this solemn and painful scene:

1. That God's will must be sedulously regarded in our approaches to himself: "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me" (Leviticus 10:3).

2. That God will vindicate his Law in unmistakable ways: "before all the people I will be glorified" (Leviticus 10:3).

3. That there is no exemption from exposure to temptation: not

4. That the heinousness of sin depends on many things beside the nature of the overt act.

5. That between sin and suffering there will be found a striking correspondence. With fire they sinned, and by fire they were consumed. God makes meet penalty to overtake transgression: whatsoever a man sows, that he reaps (Galatians 6:7). Sins against the soul lead to spiritual injury; against the body, to weakness, disease, and death; against society, to social dishonour and shame, etc.—C.

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:3

Strange fire.

"I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me." Great and small things in the worship of God. Doubtless it seemed to Nadab and Abihu a matter of no consequence at all that they should take fire from one altar rather than from another. To us it may seem a comparatively small thing, when viewed in connection with the terrible doom that immediately ensued. Obviously, however, it was a great thing in the sight of God. The act of punishment by which he showed his high displeasure, and the words of the text, sufficiently prove this. The seriousness of this particular transgression on the part of the sons of Aaron arose from several attendant considerations (see Homily on "Sin and penalty," etc.): its seriousness to us, in the fact that we may be disregarding as small and insignificant that which, in God's sight, is great and even vital; that we may be approaching him with what we think acceptable service, when he is prepared to reject it as "strange fire," and condemn us severely for our disregard of his revealed will. In connection with the worship of God, there is—

I. THE APPARENTLY AND INTRINSICALLY SMALL. So far as the things themselves are concerned, it is of no consequence to that most High God "who dwelleth not in temples made with hands," what is

The judgment of good and faithful men may differ on these things, and their differences may be of no moment in the sight of God; in no way invalidating the service rendered, or lessening or lowering the blessing gained. But oven in connection with the smaller matters, as also apart from that connection, there is—

II. THE ACTUALLY AND INTRINSICALLY GREAT. It is of the most serious importance that:

1. In all things, weightier and lighter, we should study to follow the will of Christ. His will is revealed in his own words, and in the acts and words of his apostles. Thence we must studiously deduce his desire concerning us.

2. We should make all things conduce to a reverential spirit. "God will be sanctified," etc. The service which does not tend to impress the worshipper with the greatness, majesty, holiness, wisdom, faithfulness of God, is fatally defective, is essentially faulty.

3. We should exalt Jesus Christ as a Saviour from sin. The prominence and priority given to the sin offering in this book point clearly to the truth that "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" should have the principal place in Christian worship. He, the Divine Son, is also to be "sanctified in them that come nigh."

4. We should present the entire truth of revelation; not that part which we prefer, which falls in with our tastes or acquirements, but the "whole counsel of God." Guiltily disregarding these imperative matters, we

Leviticus 10:3-7

Self-restraint and utterance.

"And Aaron held his peace," etc. The sequel to the sad story of the sin and death of Nadab and Abihu carries with it three lessons we shall do well to learn.

I. THAT A MAN IS LESS HONOURED BY EXALTED OFFICE THAN BY LOFTY ACTION. We pay a certain respect to Aaron as the first high priest of the ancient Law, type of the "High Priest of our profession." But we pay a higher honor to him and feel a deeper regard for him, as one who acted nobly at a most trying time. Such a scene might well have unmanned him. We could not have blamed him had he given way to violent agitation, even in the house of the Lord. There is, in sorrow, a descending scale, and his was at the very bottom of its dark depths. Bereavement, the saddest of all losses; the death of a child, the saddest of all bereavements; the death of two sons in their manhood, the saddest form which the loss of children can assume; its startling, awful suddenness; its occurrence under the aggravating conditions of guilt and dishonour;—such was the staggering blow that fell on Aaron then! There is a nobleness of self-restraint which is truly touching, which excites our hearty admiration, in the fact that "Aaron held his peace." He did not give way to tempestuous emotion or to querulous complaint; he acted as became him: standing where he stood in the near presence of God, he bore the blow in sacred silence, he opened not his mouth, he was dumb, because he felt the Lord had done it (Psalms 39:9). There is nothing manlier, nobler, more admirable than calmness in the overwhelming hour. it is born of

II. THAT THE DEVOUT HEART WILL RECOGNIZE THE RIGHTNESS OF SUBORDINATING PERSONAL SENTIMENT TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. (Leviticus 10:6.) This melancholy occurrence had taken place in vindication of the honour of God (Leviticus 10:3). The one feeling which was to fill the hearts of those who stood before God was an unquestioning acceptance of the severe and. afflictive decree of the Holy One. To show the ordinary signs of sorrow might be open to misconstruction; might appear as a protest against the death-penalty. In the cause of righteousness the natural feeling of father and sons must be energetically suppressed. And it was done. There come times in our history when, in the highest interests of all, in the service of God and of our kind, we are called upon to make parental, conjugal, fraternal, friendly emotions give place to calmness of spirit. When that hour comes, we, if we have Aaron's spirit, shall obey as he obeyed.

III. THAT GOD DESIRES US TO GIVE PLAY TO HUMAN FEELING WHEN HIS LAW IS NOT BROKEN OR, HIS SERVICE HINDERED THEREBY.

1. The relatives of the dead were to carry their bodies decently and reverently "from before the sanctuary" (Leviticus 10:4).

2. The whole house of Israel were to "bewail the burning which the Lord had kindled" (Leviticus 10:6). Where the lamentation was natural, and where there was no peril of its being misinterpreted, it was not only allowed but encouraged of God. Stoicism is no part of Christianity. We are to be natural and sympathetic. Jesus "rejoiced in spirit" and" wept" himself. He intimated his wish that we should act naturally, in accordance with our surrounding circumstances and inward spirit (Matthew 9:15-17; John 16:20-22; James 5:13). Sympathetic as well as natural: "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep," etc. (Romans 12:15).—C.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Leviticus 10:1-7

Strange fire; and Jehovah's judgment upon it.

Leviticus 10:3, "Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace?

I. A GREAT OFFENSE against the holiness of God.

1. Defilement of his worship. Violation of his written Word. Introduction of self-will and mere human device. Abuse of the joyful spirit of praise to insolent self-assertion and disregard of decencies and reverence.

2. Special profanation of the sanctuary by disobedience of priests. Holy offices dishonoured is a fearful evil.

3. Hiding of God's glory with false glory. Ritualism. Mere show of human talent. Abuse of music. Forgetfulness of God in his service. Temptation to vain-glory.

II. A SOLEMN VINDICATION of the sanctity of God's house and Law, Strange fire offended, true fire punished.

1. Profitableness of the study of providence, especially ecclesiastical history, as revealing the "consuming fire" of righteousness in the Church.

2. Representative character of all God's people, and especially those in prominent position. God glorified in us, whether by life or by death,

3. Double aspect of all Divine visitations of judgment, as confirming at once the strength of the Law and the faithfulness of the covenant, therefore both warning and encouragement. "Aaron held his peace," for he could only acknowledge the righteousness of God. Grace is above nature, and controls and exalts it,

III. A GREAT LESSON on the infirmity of man and the necessity of redemption. Immediately that the temple service was inaugurated, man spoiled it, as it were, by his sin. Compare the inauguration of earthly life spoiled by the sin of Adam and Eve; the new world after the Flood by Noah's sin (Genesis 9:1-29); defection in the new land of Canaan ( 2:13); Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-43); the corruption of the early Church (Acts 20:29, etc.); the final apostasy (Revelation 20:7-10). On what can we depend but the preserving mercy, the rescuing grace of him who has redeemed us? The "strange fire" was thus solemnly condemned only for the sake of calling out faith and attaching the people of God the more firmly to that fire of his love which, while it consumed the Sacrifice on the cross, did also prepare the way for all into the holiest, that all might be kings and priests unto God through Christ.—R.

Leviticus 10:8-20

EXPOSITION

THE COMMAND TO ABSTAIN FROM WINE (Leviticus 10:8-11). The law given to Aaron (some manuscripts read Moses) against the use of wine by the priests during their ministrations, by its juxtaposition with what has gone before, has led to the probable supposition that Nadab and Abihu had acted under the excitement of intoxicating drink. It is possible that the sacrificial meals on the peace offerings had begun, and that at the same time that the congregation was feasting, the two priests had refreshed themselves with wine after their long service. The special ceremonial meal of the priests had not yet been eaten.

Leviticus 10:10

Wine and other intoxicating liquors ( שֵׁכר, whence the Greek word σίκερα, Luke 1:13, was made from dates, or barley, or honey) are forbidden to the priests during their ministrations, that they may pat a difference between holy and unholy; that is, that their minds may not be confused, but be capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, what ought and what ought not to be done. Nadab and Abihu, on the contrary, had not distinguished between the sacred and profane fire, or between God's commands and their own unregulated impulses. If they had partaken too freely of the wine provided for the drink offerings, their sin would be similar to that of the Corinthians in their abuse of the Lord's Supper. As to the use of wine by the minister of God under the New Testament, see 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 5:23. The spiritual emotion, which, in the service of God, shows itself in pouring out the feelings in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," is contrasted, in Ephesians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19, with the physical excitement caused by wine, the former being commended and the latter forbidden.

Leviticus 10:11

That ye may teach the children of Israel. This shows that one part of the priest's office was teaching the Law (cf. Deuteronomy 24:8; Malachi 2:7).

Leviticus 10:12-20

Moses takes care that the remaining part of the ritual of the day shall be carried out in spite of the terrible interruption that has occurred. Under his instructions, Aaron and Eleazar and Ithamar eat the remainder of the meat offering (Leviticus 9:17), in the court of the tabernacle, and reserve the wave breast and heave shoulder to eat in a clean place, that is, not necessarily within the court; but he finds that the sin offerings (Leviticus 9:15), which ought to be eaten by the priests, had been burnt. The rule was that, when the blood was presented in the tabernacle, the flesh was burned; when it was not, the flesh was eaten by the priests. In the present case, the blood had not been brought within the holy place, and yet the flesh had been burned instead of being eaten. Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, and demanded an explanation. Aaron's plea of defense was twofold.

1. His sons had fulfilled aright the ritual of their own sin offering and burnt offering, that is, the offerings made for the priests, and it had been rather his duty than theirs to see that the ritual of the sin offering of the congregation had been properly carried out.

2. The state of distress in which he was, and the near escape that he had had from ceremonial defilement, and the sense of sin brought home to him by his children's death, had made him unfit and unable to eat the sin offering of the people, as he should have done under other circumstances. With this plea Moses was content. It was true that the letter of the Law had been broken, but there was a sufficient cause for it (see Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7). It appears from hence that the expiation wrought by the sin offering was not complete until the whole ceremony was accomplished, the last act of which was the eating of the flesh by the priests in one class of sin offering, and the burning the flesh outside the camp in the other. It has been questioned, what is the full meaning of the expression, God hath given it you—the flesh of the sin offering—to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Archdeacon Freeman expresses the view of A Lapide, Keil, and many others when he says that, by eating the flesh of the offering, the priests "in a deep mystery neutralized, through the holiness vested in them by their consecration, the sin which the offerer had laid upon the victim and upon them" ('Principles of Divine Service,' part 2). Oehler, on the other hand (Herzog's 'Cyclop.,' 10), maintains that the priests did no more by this act than declare the removal of the sin already taken away; with which accords Philo's explanation ('De Vict.,' 13, quoted by Edersheim, 'Temple Service,' Leviticus 6:1-30.) that the object of the sacrificial meal was to carry assurance of acceptance to the offerer, "since God would never have allowed his servants to partake of it had there not been a complete removal and forgetting of the sin atoned for." Neither of these explanations seems to be altogether satisfactory. The former attributes more meaning to the expression bear the iniquity than it appears to have elsewhere; e.g. Exodus 28:38 and Numbers 18:1, where Aaron is said to bear the iniquity of the holy things and of the sanctuary; and Ezekiel 4:4-6, where the prophet is said to bear the iniquity of Israel and Judah. The latter interpretation appears too much to evacuate the meaning of the words. It is quite certain that the part of the ceremony by which the atonement was wrought (if it was wrought by any one part) was the offering of the blood for the covering of the offerer's sins, but yet this action of the priests in eating the flesh of the victim was in some way also connected with the atonement, not only with the assurance of its having been wrought; but in what way this was effected we are not told, and cannot pronounce. The words bear the iniquity are equivalent to making atonement for by taking the sin in some sense upon themselves (cf. Isaiah 53:11, "He shall bear their iniquities," and John 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away [or beareth] the sin of the world'). Accordingly, Bishop Patrick comments: "The very eating of the people's sin offering argued the sins of the people were, in some sort, laid upon the priests, to be taken away by them. From whence the sacrifice of Christ may be explained, who is said to bear our iniquity (as the priest is here said to do), all our sins being laid on him, who took upon him to make an expiation for them by the sacrifice of himself. For the priest, hereby eating of the sin offering, receiving the guilt upon himself, may well be thought to prefigure One who should be both Priest and Sacrifice for sin; which was accomplished in Christ" (on Le Ezekiel 10:17).

HOMILETICS

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:2

The sinfulness of man mars the full effect of the good purposes of God

on the very day of the consecration of the priests.

I. THE SIN OF NADAB AND ABIHU. Presumption. They chose their own method of returning thanks and giving praise to God, a method unsanctioned by God's command, unauthorized by their official superiors.

II. THEIR PUNISHMENT. Death. We might have thought that a lesser penalty would have sufficed for such a sin, if we had not had their example before us.

III. ITS LESSONS.

1. The necessity of obedience to positive precepts as well as moral commands. Moral commands, which rest for their basis on some reason which we can apprehend, being in their nature of far greater importance than positive precepts, which are binding simply because they have been ordered, we are tempted to undervalue the latter. We say, "I know God's purpose, and will carry it out; it is slavish to be bound by the letter. He will prefer the course which has now become the best to that which he commanded under perhaps altered circumstances." This arises from pride. We make ourselves judges of God's purposes, in respect to which we are in truth ignorant or can at best guess blindly. There may be a thousand other objects of the Divine counsels beside that which we think that we see, which we regard as the only one. The questions which alone we must ask are, "Does this injunction come from God? and does it affect me?" If so, we must obey it without respect to consequences, and we may not substitute for it a course of action which appears to ourselves better adapted to effect the end which we suppose to be in view.

2. The special necessity of this obedience in Divine warship. God knows how he wills to be worshipped, and why he should be so worshipped. Man does not. Under the old dispensation, the forms of worship appointed by him were typical. What they were typical of' he knew, but man did not; therefore man could not judge of their propriety. Under the new dispensation, he has by positive injunction appointed two rites—the sacrament of Baptism and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. To dispense with either of them would be an act of the highest presumption. He appointed certain forms by which they were to be administered. Human authority may not in baptism change water for any other element, or substitute other words than those appointed, nor may it alter the form of the consecration in the administration of the Holy Communion; nor when Christ has said, "Drink ye all of this," may it, without sin, enjoin, "Ye shall not all drink of it."

3. Human authority to be obeyed where God has not spoken. There must be regulations of some kind for Divine worship, and these it is the office of the Church to supply, ordaining, abolishing, and changing, as it seems good from time to time. "Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain … ceremonies or rites of the Church;" and also "to change and abolish" them when "ordained by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying" (Art. 34). When once ordained, they have a binding force over the conscience until abolished by the same authority. "Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the tradition and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, as he that offendeth against the common order of the Chinch, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren" (Ibid.). Although the intention be good, though the purpose be to improve the worship of God, and, as in the case of Nadab and Abihu, to light up in the sanctuary the golden altar of incense and prayer, yet, if a man act without the authority of his Church, he is guilty of presumption, and will have to bear his iniquity,

Leviticus 10:2

Fire

was the instrument of the destruction of Nadab and Ahihu, whilst just before it had been the means of consuming the sacrifice, and in passing to the altar it had probably bathed Moses and Aaron in its harmless flames as they stood at the door of the tabernacle. Thus it is that the same thing serves as a means of glorification or of destruction, according to the qualities of that with which it comes in contact. The discipline of daily life makes one a saint, another a more determined sinner. The discipline of suffering softens one heart, hardens another. The difficulties of religious belief make one the more submissive, another an unbeliever. God is the joy of the believer and the misery of the infidel. And so we may suppose that it will be hereafter. The presence of God will be the exceeding great reward of those who have sought him, and that same presence would be the torture of those who have not submitted their wills to his. It may be that this in itself will be sufficient to constitute the punishment of the unrighteous in the world to come.

Leviticus 10:3

Increase of privilege involves increase of danger.

The nearer men are brought to God, the more liable they are to chastening at his hands. This is more particularly the case with those who are made his ministers. What might pass unpunished in others will be punished in them. What would be allowed in others will not be allowed in them (Leviticus 10:6). Had Nadab and Abihu not been called to be priests, they would not have met their untimely fate; and had Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar been laymen, they would have been permitted to make use of the ordinary signs of mourning for their dead. But God's work must come before any other duty, and if it be not done as God has willed it to be done, a sorer punishment will fall upon those who have specially devoted themselves to the immediate service of God than on others. This is a solemn thought for those who are ordained to be the ministers of God.

HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR

Leviticus 10:1-11

Counterfeit fire.

cf. Acts 5:1-42. We have considered the consecration both of the high priest and of the minor priests, and how, entering upon their office in expectation of a sign, they got it in the outflash of the "consuming fire." But sad to say, two of the minor priests so provoke the Lord by their presumption that they are instantly consumed. Having already contrasted the high priest's consecration with Christ's baptism, and the descent of the fire with the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost, we cannot resist the parallel presented by the case of Ananias and Sapphira to this case of Nadab and Abihu. If believers are rightly regarded as "priests unto God," then the case of Ananias and Sapphira is one of presumption in an assumed priesthood. The parallel will help us to definite ideas about the sin.

I. HONOUR IS OFTENTIMES TOO MUCH FOR SOME MINDS. And it is generally a minor class of mind that gets intoxicated with position and success. Nadab and Abihu, elevated to the priesthood, are so elated as to suppose that everything becomes them. Moreover, allied with this mental intoxication and excitement there often is physical intoxication. Indulgence is thought a proper thing for the upstart, and so he leads his presumption by excess. The probabilities are in favour of supposing that Nadab and Abihu had indulged in wine or strong drink immediately on their elevation to the priesthood (cf. Acts 5:9, Acts 5:10), and, in consequence, were incapacitated for distinguishing between the holy fire and its unholy counterfeit. It is not every one who can stand a "full cup," or walk with it steadily. If with honour there comes not a quiet spirit, it becomes a curse rather than a blessing.

II. SELF-CONFIDENCE IS THE NATURAL RESULT OF THE INTOXICATION OF SUCCESS. Nadab and Abihu, in their folly, think that they can guide themselves in priestly duty. Their venerable uncle, Moses, is not to be consulted by such dignitaries as they are. They can approach the Divine presence in a perfectly new and original way. The fire which came originally from heaven, and which has been most carefully preserved as a sacred deposit, is not, they believe, a bit better than fire they themselves can kindle. They will not depend upon it, but furnish a good fire themselves. Their spirit is sell-confidence all through. The license of innovation was most uncalled for at such a time, seeing that the ritual was only in process of reception from heaven. There was no excuse for their course at all.

III. GOD NEVER GRANTS A MANIFESTATION, BUT SATAN GETS UP THROUGH SELF-CONFIDENT MEN A COUNTERFEIT. Nadab and Abihu believed they could produce as good a fire as God. Ananias and Sapphire believed that hypocrisy could conduct itself as creditably as Pentecostal devotion. To every suggestion of a "year of grace," there comes the counter-suggestion of a "year of delusion." All fire is equally common, or, for that matter, equally sacred, to the self-confident mind. Special inspirations are incredible. Censers can be filled on the most rational principles, and God does not refuse any man's person.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, conveys the idea of counterfeit eloquence, a loveless exhibition of oratory that casual observers might pronounce angelic; of counterfeit enthusiasm, and even faith, so that neither mysteries nor mountains can retard the loveless spirit's prayers; of counterfeit martyrdoms, giving up the body to be burned after giving up fortune to the poor; and yet, because love is wanting in such cases, they constitute an unacceptable and profitless service.

IV. THOSE WHO PRESUME WITH THEIR COUNTERFEITS MUST ACCEPT OF THE JUDGMENT THEY DESERVE. Nadab and Abihu, despising the Divine fire, and coming into competition with their own, are consumed by it. In a moment they experience how God is a "consuming fire' to all presumption. Ananias and Sapphira feel the same. They fall before the deserved vengeance of the Most High. God offers us the great alternative—either sanctification through the fire of the Holy Ghost, or destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. God will be sanctified in some way: if the wrath of man does not turn to praise, it will glorify God in being restrained (Psalms 76:10).

V. IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD ONLY ACCEPTS WHAT HE HIMSELF INSPIRES. This is the lesson of this sad providence. We must bring back to God what he has given. Independent offerings are not acceptable. To come to him in a way of our own devising, instead of by Jesus Christ; to come to him in a self-confident spirit, instead of in the humility inspired by the Holy Ghost; to come to him with proud, cold hearts, instead of with warm and ardent ones, is to be sent empty away. He refuses all such counterfeit offerings; he must have Divine fire or none.—R.M.E.

Leviticus 10:3-7; 12-20

Submission in bereavement.

cf. 2 Samuel 12:15-23; Job 1:18-21; John 11:1-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The conduct of Aaron under the bereavement is most instructive. He holds his peace and is prepared to do whatever Muses commands. And here we have to notice—

I. GOD'S SERVICE AND GLORY MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE OF EVERY OTHER CONSIDERATION. The surviving priests were to leave the mourning and the funeral arrangements to their brethren. The bereavement is not to interfere with their priestly service and consecration. God asserts his claims as paramount. "He that loveth father or mother more than me," said God incarnate, "is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37). It is ideally possible, therefore, to be so filled with a sense of consecration to God that every other consideration is made to dwindle into insignificance. Is not this what we shall realize in heaven?

II. SUBMISSION TO GOD'S CLEARLY EXPRESSED WILL IS A RELIEF TO THE SOUL WHICH HAS BEEN UNCERTAIN BEFORE IT. The thought that God willed the death of those dear to us, has a wonderfully calming influence upon us. We may see no reason for the stroke, and God may not for a long season show us his reason, but we can believe he has one and a good one, and. that "he doeth all things well." The death of Nadab and Abihu was as clearly a token from God as the previous manifestation. Job, again, shows the same submissive spirit under a still greater bereavement (Job 1:18-21). So did David on the death of his child (2 Samuel 12:15-23). So did Mary and Martha on the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-57.). All these worthies rested, as we all may rest, and there is no other rest but in the will of an all-wise God. Uncertainty is trying, but even the certainty of bereavement and of sorrow has an element of rest in it.

III. AARON IS CAUTIONED AGAINST ANY USE OF WINE OR STRONG DRINK WHEN ENGAGED IN PRIESTLY SERVICE. Doubtless the primary significance of this injunction was, as already noticed, that Nadab and Abihu had erred therein. But it seems to carry also a beneficial caution. For at no time are people more tempted to resort to wine and strong drink than when in bereavement. A little stimulus, they fancy, will sustain them. So they take to "the bottle" to replenish their courage. The result is that they fall into deeper troubles than ever. Aaron is the better of this injunction to abstain at this time when his sorrow is so keen.

IV. SORROW NECESSITATED FASTING INSTEAD OF FEASTING. After the terrible trial, Aaron and his surviving sons had no appetite for the feasting to which they were entitled; and so they seem to have burned the sin offering in its entirety instead of eating of it. Moses, in directing the sorrowing priests to proceed to the feast of fellowship, made no due allowance for their condition. Aaron instinctively saw the incongruity of feasting when his heart was so sore, and therefore he acted in the spirit of the Law, which disposed of what could not be used in the fire of the altar.

And might not those who turn a house of mourning into a house of feasting learn a lesson of propriety here? Eating and drinking in connection with wakes and funerals have been carried oftentimes to most unseemly excess. The whole spirit of sorrow evaporates before the copious offerings to the "belly-god," and instead of spiritual profit there is spiritual deterioration.

Fasting is an effort of nature to say a word for the spirit within. Sorrow takes the edge off appetite, and rebukes feasting that the soul may have a season of repair. If the sad heart gets fair play, it will emerge from its sorrows purified and elevated.

V. THE SPIRIT MAY SOMETIMES MOST PROPERLY SUPERSEDE THE LETTER. We have seen how fatal was the innovation of the presumptuous priests. But in this same chapter we come across an innovation on the part of Aaron, at which Moses and God were content. There is all the difference between rigidity which must not be broken, and a law whose spirit can move freely amid its forms. It was the latter which God gave. There are necessities which arise from time to time and are themselves laws to the spiritual mind. We should be jealous of ourselves in the exercise of our liberty, but, at the same time, we ought to realize our freedom as God gives it to us in his Law.—R.M.E.

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:2

Disobedience swiftly punished.

What a contrast between the two scenes! Aaron and Moses entering the tabernacle and returning to bless the people and to participate in the rejoicing caused by the appearance of God's glory, and Nadab and Abihu approaching the same sacred place only to be consumed by the fire of judgment, their offerings rejected, themselves destroyed! The judgments of God are not pleasing to contemplate, but they are necessary to completeness of view, and to the begetting in us of due caution when we venture into his presence, lest our holy boldness degenerate into a presumptuous disregard of his regulations.

I. THE ACT OF RASH DISOBEDIENCE.

1. We see two brothers sinning against God. Brothers may be mutually helpful or injurious. To witness the union of members of a family in pious zeal is delightful, but too often relationship is provocative of harm rather than of blessing. Elder brothers, beware of leading your younger relations into sin!

2. Two that were intimately related to holy men were not thereby shielded from thoughtless action and severe judgment. Alas! that the children of godly parents should ever belie their ancestry. Here the sons of Aaron and nephews of Moses dishonoured their relationship.

3. Two young men brought destruction upon themselves and grief upon their friends. They died childless, and, if more than youths, could yet hardly have attained to any great age. Eleazar, the next brother, was perhaps not twenty at this time, for he was not included in the list of the men forbidden to see or enter the land of promise. We are apt to censure the evil deeds of young men too gently, and to look upon youth as more of an excuse than God seems here to regard it. Experience proves that if youth naturally inclines to sin, so also is it, equally with age, visited with righteous retribution.

4. Two that had been openly dedicated to the service of God were unmindful of his precepts. They had just been consecrated as priests. This did not prevent them from violating the Law, nor protect them from the consequences of their behaviour. There is danger as well as honour involved in waiting upon God. If Peter had not been called to the lofty position of discipleship, he had not denied his Master. By smiting these two priests, sons of the high priest, Jehovah taught the people that sin could be committed by, and would not be pardoned in, the most exalted of the nation. It was a conspicuous, forcible demonstration of the majesty and holiness of God.

5. Two that had recently beheld the glory of the Lord forgot the obedience their position demanded. Perhaps it was the very excitement consequent on such s scene that unduly elevated them, so that, becoming giddy, they reeled into the abyss of impetuous self-will and awful penalty. We must guard against imprudent familiar handling of Divine things after the grace of God has visited us with wondrous revelations of his mercy and favour. It is evident that even if displays of supernatural power were frequent, they would not prove a security against transgression. Some have turned the grace of God manifested in full and free salvation through Christ into a covering for licentiousness and irreverence.

II. THE GLOOMY CHANGE EFFECTED BY SIN.

1. A day of hallowed joy becomes a day of mourning. This is the bitter chequered experience of life. The sunny skies soon grow dark with clouds, the quiet waters are lashed into tempestuous fury. Men are almost afraid of seasons of ecstatic rejoicing, as if a reaction must quickly ensue; the gladness seems itself a presentiment of coming trouble. Sorrow treads close upon the heels of mirth. Sin may well excite in us sentiments of aversion when we see how it has disfigured the fair features of creation's landscape, changing songs into sighs and smiles into tears. Many a day that began with singing and prayer has ended with wailing and remorse.

2. The fire of Divine approval is changed in, to the fire of Divine wrath. The men became a sacrifice to God's glory indeed, but were not an offering voluntarily laid upon his altar. It seemed fitting that the punishment should bear an analogy to the sin. Strange fire was punished with hallowed fire. The conception of a mild Deity unmoved to indignation at acts unaccordant with his will is not justified by Scripture, nor is it in harmony with the utterances of conscience or the testimony borne by the existent laws of his moral government of the world.

3. Not even the profession of desire to honour God excuses the willful neglect of his injunctions. To substitute human inventions for scriptural institutions is a dangerous practice. Reason may discern little difference of moment, but it is not safe to argue that therefore the particular observance is immaterial, and rests on no rational ground of distinction. The loyalty that will presume to alter the king's ordinances is of doubtful character and certain of rejection.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 10:3

A bereaved parent.

Who can stand in the presence of death unmoved? A gulf separates us from the departed friend; the past is like a dream. The partnership between soul and body has been dissolved, and already the clay tabernacle, deprived of its tenant, shows signs of crumbling into decay. The form is the same, but the animating principle has fled. The casket has been rifled of its jewel; we survey the husk, but the kernel has vanished.

I. HERE WAS AN INSTANCE OF SUDDEN DEATH. This is the more startling. The festival is changed into a funeral. The active frame is motionless, the busy brain that teemed with thought is still; we call aloud, but there is no reply; we bend down to touch the lips, but we receive no responsive kiss. How weak is man, when a stroke deprives him of all his faculties, removes him from earthly ken, and his place knows him no more!

II. IT IS SAD WHEN CHILDREN DIE BEFORE THEIR PARENTS. Then the cup of bereavement contains an added element of bitterness. The natural order is inverted. Pathetic was the expression of Burke's grief at the loss of his only son. "I am stripped of all my honours; I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate. They who ought to have succeeded me have gone before me. They who should have been to me a posterity are in the place of ancestors." To see the budding rose suddenly blighted, all the promise of life unrealized, is enough to rend a parent's heart with disappointment.

III. IT IS SADDER STILL WHEN DEATH IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF THOUGHTLESS, SINFUL CONDUCT. Then no gleam of light tempers the darkness. If the flower be transplanted to adorn the heavenly garden, there will be joy at the thought to alleviate the sorrow. But when the removal appears like that of tares to be burned, who shall assuage the pangs of bereavement? Children! strive so to live that if Providence call you away in early life, the memory left behind may be sweet and fragrant, pleasant and reassuring. Let us not too hastily assume the death of the youthful to be a judgment. We may have no Moses at our side, as here, to interpret the harrowing scene. We would not rush instantly to adverse conclusions, nor misconceive the dispensation. Even in the case before us we are not warranted in deciding upon the ultimate fate of Nadab and Abihu. Death is truly in every case a particular instance of a general law. "This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified," etc. It ever reminds us of its connection with sin, and every time we are called to stand by the grave we should be impressed with a deeper sense of the enormity and awfulness of sin in God's sight. Beholding the effect, let us hate the cause.

IV. Aaron furnishes AN EXAMPLE OF FITTING BEHAVIOUR UNDER TRIAL. He could not rejoice to see the withering of his cherished hopes; God expects no such unnatural triumphing over the instincts of affection. But he refrained from murmuring, he "held his peace." "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." Open the quivering lips, and the pent-up agony of the spirit may find vent in the utterance of expostulations and reproaches unworthy of a child of God. Job's wife tempted him to "curse God and die," but he "sinned not with his lips." He was, indeed, able to say, "Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil?" "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." It was after this that he "uttered that he understood not."

V. TO REPRESS REPINING IS ACCEPTED AS TACIT ACQUIESCENCE IN THE EQUITY OF DIVINE JUDGMENTS. His ways are often mysterious, but his wisdom cannot err nor his love prove unkind. The greatest degree of affection for our fellow-creatures must never be allowed to lessen our supreme regard for the glory of the Creator. "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." Listen to the voice from under the trees of the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, not my will, but thine be done." Fond parents have sacrificed their children for the good of the commonwealth, how much more shall they be content to leave them in the hands of God, to be dealt with according to his infinite justice and mercy! It was the glory of the Father that necessitated the surrender of his beloved Son to death for the redemption of the world.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 10:6, Leviticus 10:7

Restrictions and infirmities of religious service.

That honour involves responsibility is implied in many of these ordinances, and is recognized in the judgment passed on the conduct of men occupying conspicuous positions in society and in the Church. To be dedicated to God's service was an inestimable privilege conferred on Aaron and his family, Their time and labour were bestowed upon high and holy employments, The seal of God was stamped upon their brow, the people regarded them with respect and provided for their maintenance. Compare the honourable position of ministers, missionaries, yea, all the followers of Christ now, and note that there arc special restrictions consequent upon their consecration, and common infirmities to which they are subject equally with others.

I. THE RESTRICTIONS.

1. Forbidden to mingle with the world in its engagements. "Not go out of the sanctuary," at least for a season, they are deprived of the liberty others enjoy, Pursuits which may be harmlessly indulged in by others are unbecoming to them.

2. Prohibited from contact with all that is defiling. They must not touch the dead bodies of their relations; the cousins of Aaron shall perform the last offices for their brethren. What concord hath the Spirit of life with death? To profane the holy unction is to incur the Divine displeasure. "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient." "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."

3. Free manifestation of grief at God's visitations not permitted. The usual relief found in expression is excluded; there must be no signs of mourning upon the priests. Let it suffice for the nation to "bewail the burning." How shall the oil of gladness consort with mourning? The people of God are not to be demonstrative in their sorrow at his chastisements, lest it be misconstrued, and others, taking occasion from their example, go further and even denounce the ways of God, and so "wrath come upon" them. We must remember the wisdom of the Almighty and the glory due unto his Name. Will not the world entertain hard thoughts concerning him if we his servants are over-loud in lamentation?

II. THE INFIRMITIES which are not prevented.

1. They are subject to the common losses and bereavements. There is no special providence in this respect. Even Aaron and his sons have to bow before afflicting dispensations. If it were otherwise great part of the discipline of life would be omitted from the training of God's chiefest scholars.

2. They also feel the natural pangs of sorrow. It is evidently so in the present case, or the command to refrain from the usual manifestations of grief would not have been issued. God's ministers are not expected to become hard-hearted and callous, but they are not to give way to outbursts of anguish.

3. They are liable to commit acts displeasing to God. Nadab and Abihu are a solemn warning of the possibility of transgression. Even Christians of repute fall into grievous sin. They get hurried away by worldly passion, and offer unacceptable worship.

CONCLUSION. Observe the influence of our behaviour upon

He who expects great things of us wilt also, if we ask him, accord us the necessary strength to enable us to comply with his demands. Whilst conscious of the importance attaching to all our actions, we need not be depressed with a load of anxiety. We may "rejoice in the Lord alway."—S.R.A.

HOMILIES BY J.A. MACDONALD

Leviticus 10:1-7

Nadab and Abihu,

When the fire of God came upon the sacrifices, "the people shouted, and fell on their faces." While thus in an attitude of prayer, Nadab and Abihu snatched their censers, put fire into them, and put incense upon the fire, as though to send up the prayers of the people to God. In this they sinned, and in consequence paid a fearful penalty. Let us consider—

I. THE NATURE OF THEIR SIN. We are told:

1. That they offered strange fire to God.

2. That they acted without direction.

II. THE LESSONS OF THE PUNISHMENT.

1. God is not to be trifled with.

2. His vengeance is often retributive.

3. His retributions are sometimes summary.

4. Mourning for the dead has its laws and limitations.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Leviticus 10:1-3

Sin and penalty in sacred things.

The story of the guilt and doom of the sons of Aaron constitutes a sad episode in the recital of the sacred precepts of the Law. We look at—

1. THE CHARACTER OF THE TRANSGRESSION. It appears (from Leviticus 10:16, compared with Le Leviticus 9:15) that this forbidden act was done very soon indeed after the solemnities described in the preceding chapter (9). Otherwise we should have inferred that it was familiarity with sacred rites which had bred irreverent unconcern, and issued in disobedience. We seem shut up to the conclusion that these young men, even when the solemn inaugural scenes were fresh in their memories, and. the commandments of the Lord clearly before their minds, deliberately and wantonly took fire from another source than the heaven-kindled flame on the brazen altar (Leviticus 9:24). Their action was, therefore, not only a defiant violation of the Law they had received from Moses, the servant of Jehovah, but it was a perverse disregard of the manifest will of God, made known in special supernatural disclosure.

II. THE EXPLANATION OF THE PUNISHMENT. (Leviticus 10:2.) This may seem severe, has seemed so to some. Why not exclusion from office or excommunication from the congregation of the Lord? Why the extreme penalty for one act of error in worship? The answer is manifold.

1. Their deed was (as has been said) an act of willful and wanton disobedience.

2. It was committed by those who were in high position.

3. It was a sin on the part of men in the enjoyment of high privilege, and in the exercise of no slight influence.

4. It was an evil thing done in the holy place and before the very face of God; it was disobedience in connection with the public worship of Jehovah—the supreme sphere of activity, in regard to which it was of vital consequence to the nation that everything should be done aright.

5. One signal mark of high displeasure might be mercy as well as justice—inspiring holy awe and saving many others from similar transgressions.

III. THE LESSONS WHICH THE SIN AND THE PENALTY LEAVE BEHIND THEM. We learn from this solemn and painful scene:

1. That God's will must be sedulously regarded in our approaches to himself: "I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me" (Leviticus 10:3).

2. That God will vindicate his Law in unmistakable ways: "before all the people I will be glorified" (Leviticus 10:3).

3. That there is no exemption from exposure to temptation: not

4. That the heinousness of sin depends on many things beside the nature of the overt act.

5. That between sin and suffering there will be found a striking correspondence. With fire they sinned, and by fire they were consumed. God makes meet penalty to overtake transgression: whatsoever a man sows, that he reaps (Galatians 6:7). Sins against the soul lead to spiritual injury; against the body, to weakness, disease, and death; against society, to social dishonour and shame, etc.—C.

Leviticus 10:1, Leviticus 10:3

Strange fire.

"I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me." Great and small things in the worship of God. Doubtless it seemed to Nadab and Abihu a matter of no consequence at all that they should take fire from one altar rather than from another. To us it may seem a comparatively small thing, when viewed in connection with the terrible doom that immediately ensued. Obviously, however, it was a great thing in the sight of God. The act of punishment by which he showed his high displeasure, and the words of the text, sufficiently prove this. The seriousness of this particular transgression on the part of the sons of Aaron arose from several attendant considerations (see Homily on "Sin and penalty," etc.): its seriousness to us, in the fact that we may be disregarding as small and insignificant that which, in God's sight, is great and even vital; that we may be approaching him with what we think acceptable service, when he is prepared to reject it as "strange fire," and condemn us severely for our disregard of his revealed will. In connection with the worship of God, there is—

I. THE APPARENTLY AND INTRINSICALLY SMALL. So far as the things themselves are concerned, it is of no consequence to that most High God "who dwelleth not in temples made with hands," what is

The judgment of good and faithful men may differ on these things, and their differences may be of no moment in the sight of God; in no way invalidating the service rendered, or lessening or lowering the blessing gained. But oven in connection with the smaller matters, as also apart from that connection, there is—

II. THE ACTUALLY AND INTRINSICALLY GREAT. It is of the most serious importance that:

1. In all things, weightier and lighter, we should study to follow the will of Christ. His will is revealed in his own words, and in the acts and words of his apostles. Thence we must studiously deduce his desire concerning us.

2. We should make all things conduce to a reverential spirit. "God will be sanctified," etc. The service which does not tend to impress the worshipper with the greatness, majesty, holiness, wisdom, faithfulness of God, is fatally defective, is essentially faulty.

3. We should exalt Jesus Christ as a Saviour from sin. The prominence and priority given to the sin offering in this book point clearly to the truth that "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" should have the principal place in Christian worship. He, the Divine Son, is also to be "sanctified in them that come nigh."

4. We should present the entire truth of revelation; not that part which we prefer, which falls in with our tastes or acquirements, but the "whole counsel of God." Guiltily disregarding these imperative matters, we

Leviticus 10:3-7

Self-restraint and utterance.

"And Aaron held his peace," etc. The sequel to the sad story of the sin and death of Nadab and Abihu carries with it three lessons we shall do well to learn.

I. THAT A MAN IS LESS HONOURED BY EXALTED OFFICE THAN BY LOFTY ACTION. We pay a certain respect to Aaron as the first high priest of the ancient Law, type of the "High Priest of our profession." But we pay a higher honor to him and feel a deeper regard for him, as one who acted nobly at a most trying time. Such a scene might well have unmanned him. We could not have blamed him had he given way to violent agitation, even in the house of the Lord. There is, in sorrow, a descending scale, and his was at the very bottom of its dark depths. Bereavement, the saddest of all losses; the death of a child, the saddest of all bereavements; the death of two sons in their manhood, the saddest form which the loss of children can assume; its startling, awful suddenness; its occurrence under the aggravating conditions of guilt and dishonour;—such was the staggering blow that fell on Aaron then! There is a nobleness of self-restraint which is truly touching, which excites our hearty admiration, in the fact that "Aaron held his peace." He did not give way to tempestuous emotion or to querulous complaint; he acted as became him: standing where he stood in the near presence of God, he bore the blow in sacred silence, he opened not his mouth, he was dumb, because he felt the Lord had done it (Psalms 39:9). There is nothing manlier, nobler, more admirable than calmness in the overwhelming hour. it is born of

II. THAT THE DEVOUT HEART WILL RECOGNIZE THE RIGHTNESS OF SUBORDINATING PERSONAL SENTIMENT TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. (Leviticus 10:6.) This melancholy occurrence had taken place in vindication of the honour of God (Leviticus 10:3). The one feeling which was to fill the hearts of those who stood before God was an unquestioning acceptance of the severe and. afflictive decree of the Holy One. To show the ordinary signs of sorrow might be open to misconstruction; might appear as a protest against the death-penalty. In the cause of righteousness the natural feeling of father and sons must be energetically suppressed. And it was done. There come times in our history when, in the highest interests of all, in the service of God and of our kind, we are called upon to make parental, conjugal, fraternal, friendly emotions give place to calmness of spirit. When that hour comes, we, if we have Aaron's spirit, shall obey as he obeyed.

III. THAT GOD DESIRES US TO GIVE PLAY TO HUMAN FEELING WHEN HIS LAW IS NOT BROKEN OR, HIS SERVICE HINDERED THEREBY.

1. The relatives of the dead were to carry their bodies decently and reverently "from before the sanctuary" (Leviticus 10:4).

2. The whole house of Israel were to "bewail the burning which the Lord had kindled" (Leviticus 10:6). Where the lamentation was natural, and where there was no peril of its being misinterpreted, it was not only allowed but encouraged of God. Stoicism is no part of Christianity. We are to be natural and sympathetic. Jesus "rejoiced in spirit" and" wept" himself. He intimated his wish that we should act naturally, in accordance with our surrounding circumstances and inward spirit (Matthew 9:15-17; John 16:20-22; James 5:13). Sympathetic as well as natural: "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep," etc. (Romans 12:15).—C.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Leviticus 10:1-7

Strange fire; and Jehovah's judgment upon it.

Leviticus 10:3, "Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace?

I. A GREAT OFFENSE against the holiness of God.

1. Defilement of his worship. Violation of his written Word. Introduction of self-will and mere human device. Abuse of the joyful spirit of praise to insolent self-assertion and disregard of decencies and reverence.

2. Special profanation of the sanctuary by disobedience of priests. Holy offices dishonoured is a fearful evil.

3. Hiding of God's glory with false glory. Ritualism. Mere show of human talent. Abuse of music. Forgetfulness of God in his service. Temptation to vain-glory.

II. A SOLEMN VINDICATION of the sanctity of God's house and Law, Strange fire offended, true fire punished.

1. Profitableness of the study of providence, especially ecclesiastical history, as revealing the "consuming fire" of righteousness in the Church.

2. Representative character of all God's people, and especially those in prominent position. God glorified in us, whether by life or by death,

3. Double aspect of all Divine visitations of judgment, as confirming at once the strength of the Law and the faithfulness of the covenant, therefore both warning and encouragement. "Aaron held his peace," for he could only acknowledge the righteousness of God. Grace is above nature, and controls and exalts it,

III. A GREAT LESSON on the infirmity of man and the necessity of redemption. Immediately that the temple service was inaugurated, man spoiled it, as it were, by his sin. Compare the inauguration of earthly life spoiled by the sin of Adam and Eve; the new world after the Flood by Noah's sin (Genesis 9:1-29); defection in the new land of Canaan ( 2:13); Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-43); the corruption of the early Church (Acts 20:29, etc.); the final apostasy (Revelation 20:7-10). On what can we depend but the preserving mercy, the rescuing grace of him who has redeemed us? The "strange fire" was thus solemnly condemned only for the sake of calling out faith and attaching the people of God the more firmly to that fire of his love which, while it consumed the Sacrifice on the cross, did also prepare the way for all into the holiest, that all might be kings and priests unto God through Christ.—R.


Verses 8-20

EXPOSITION

THE COMMAND TO ABSTAIN FROM WINE (Leviticus 10:8-11). The law given to Aaron (some manuscripts read Moses) against the use of wine by the priests during their ministrations, by its juxtaposition with what has gone before, has led to the probable supposition that Nadab and Abihu had acted under the excitement of intoxicating drink. It is possible that the sacrificial meals on the peace offerings had begun, and that at the same time that the congregation was feasting, the two priests had refreshed themselves with wine after their long service. The special ceremonial meal of the priests had not yet been eaten.

Leviticus 10:10

Wine and other intoxicating liquors ( שֵׁכר, whence the Greek word σίκερα, Luke 1:13, was made from dates, or barley, or honey) are forbidden to the priests during their ministrations, that they may pat a difference between holy and unholy; that is, that their minds may not be confused, but be capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, what ought and what ought not to be done. Nadab and Abihu, on the contrary, had not distinguished between the sacred and profane fire, or between God's commands and their own unregulated impulses. If they had partaken too freely of the wine provided for the drink offerings, their sin would be similar to that of the Corinthians in their abuse of the Lord's Supper. As to the use of wine by the minister of God under the New Testament, see 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 5:23. The spiritual emotion, which, in the service of God, shows itself in pouring out the feelings in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," is contrasted, in Ephesians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19, with the physical excitement caused by wine, the former being commended and the latter forbidden.

Leviticus 10:11

That ye may teach the children of Israel. This shows that one part of the priest's office was teaching the Law (cf. Deuteronomy 24:8; Malachi 2:7).

Leviticus 10:12-20

Moses takes care that the remaining part of the ritual of the day shall be carried out in spite of the terrible interruption that has occurred. Under his instructions, Aaron and Eleazar and Ithamar eat the remainder of the meat offering (Leviticus 9:17), in the court of the tabernacle, and reserve the wave breast and heave shoulder to eat in a clean place, that is, not necessarily within the court; but he finds that the sin offerings (Leviticus 9:15), which ought to be eaten by the priests, had been burnt. The rule was that, when the blood was presented in the tabernacle, the flesh was burned; when it was not, the flesh was eaten by the priests. In the present case, the blood had not been brought within the holy place, and yet the flesh had been burned instead of being eaten. Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, and demanded an explanation. Aaron's plea of defense was twofold.

1. His sons had fulfilled aright the ritual of their own sin offering and burnt offering, that is, the offerings made for the priests, and it had been rather his duty than theirs to see that the ritual of the sin offering of the congregation had been properly carried out.

2. The state of distress in which he was, and the near escape that he had had from ceremonial defilement, and the sense of sin brought home to him by his children's death, had made him unfit and unable to eat the sin offering of the people, as he should have done under other circumstances. With this plea Moses was content. It was true that the letter of the Law had been broken, but there was a sufficient cause for it (see Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7). It appears from hence that the expiation wrought by the sin offering was not complete until the whole ceremony was accomplished, the last act of which was the eating of the flesh by the priests in one class of sin offering, and the burning the flesh outside the camp in the other. It has been questioned, what is the full meaning of the expression, God hath given it you—the flesh of the sin offering—to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Archdeacon Freeman expresses the view of A Lapide, Keil, and many others when he says that, by eating the flesh of the offering, the priests "in a deep mystery neutralized, through the holiness vested in them by their consecration, the sin which the offerer had laid upon the victim and upon them" ('Principles of Divine Service,' part 2). Oehler, on the other hand (Herzog's 'Cyclop.,' 10), maintains that the priests did no more by this act than declare the removal of the sin already taken away; with which accords Philo's explanation ('De Vict.,' 13, quoted by Edersheim, 'Temple Service,' Leviticus 6:1-30.) that the object of the sacrificial meal was to carry assurance of acceptance to the offerer, "since God would never have allowed his servants to partake of it had there not been a complete removal and forgetting of the sin atoned for." Neither of these explanations seems to be altogether satisfactory. The former attributes more meaning to the expression bear the iniquity than it appears to have elsewhere; e.g. Exodus 28:38 and Numbers 18:1, where Aaron is said to bear the iniquity of the holy things and of the sanctuary; and Ezekiel 4:4-6, where the prophet is said to bear the iniquity of Israel and Judah. The latter interpretation appears too much to evacuate the meaning of the words. It is quite certain that the part of the ceremony by which the atonement was wrought (if it was wrought by any one part) was the offering of the blood for the covering of the offerer's sins, but yet this action of the priests in eating the flesh of the victim was in some way also connected with the atonement, not only with the assurance of its having been wrought; but in what way this was effected we are not told, and cannot pronounce. The words bear the iniquity are equivalent to making atonement for by taking the sin in some sense upon themselves (cf. Isaiah 53:11, "He shall bear their iniquities," and John 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away [or beareth] the sin of the world'). Accordingly, Bishop Patrick comments: "The very eating of the people's sin offering argued the sins of the people were, in some sort, laid upon the priests, to be taken away by them. From whence the sacrifice of Christ may be explained, who is said to bear our iniquity (as the priest is here said to do), all our sins being laid on him, who took upon him to make an expiation for them by the sacrifice of himself. For the priest, hereby eating of the sin offering, receiving the guilt upon himself, may well be thought to prefigure One who should be both Priest and Sacrifice for sin; which was accomplished in Christ" (on Le Ezekiel 10:17).

HOMILETICS

Leviticus 10:11

That priests are teachers

is assumed all through the Old Testament. The contrast in this respect which has been found by some between the prophets and the priests, the former being the spiritual guides of the people, and the latter the organs of a dull ceremonial routine or even rude slayers of beasts, has no foundation in fact. It is true that the primary work of the priest was to teach by type and rite, and the primary work of the prophet to declare God's will by word of mouth; but they were co-ordinate, not hostile, influences and powers, having the same end in view, which they carried out, partly by the same, partly by different means. If the prophet sharply reproves the priests, it is because they are bad priests, not because they are priests (Malachi 2:1); and when he strikes at the priest, he sometimes strikes at the prophet in the same breath (Jeremiah 5:30, Jeremiah 5:31).

THE MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL IS THE SUCCESSOR AND REPRESENTATIVE OF BOTH PRIEST AND PROPHET. He has to conduct the public worship of God, which must always be a solemn occupation, though now disembarrassed of the minute regulations of the Judaic Law, and he is a channel through whom the Divine blessing flows; in this he represents the priest. He is the expounder and preacher of God's Word; herein he represents the prophet. He teaches God's commandments and applies them to the consciences of individuals; herein he does the work of both priest and prophet. But he holds a higher office than either one or the other, inasmuch as he is the dispenser of the gifts of the Holy Ghost for the good of man, which were purchased for man by Christ's death, received by him of his Father at his ascension, anti shed forth upon his Church in the form of graces dispensed by the apostolic ministry (see Ephesians 4:7-11).

HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE

Leviticus 10:8-11

Abstinence enjoined.

Without asserting positively that inflammatory drink was the cause of the unhallowed presentation made by the sons of Aaron, we may believe that it was the wise and merciful intention of the prohibition herein contained to guard against a possible source of similar heedless attendance upon God in his sanctuary.

I. THE FUNCTIONS OF THE PRIESTS.

1. To observe the various rites connected with the worship of God.

2. To see that nothing unholy entered the precincts of the tabernacle. The incense, which might suffice without, would be an insult to Jehovah within. The fire, useful for common cooking purposes, would be counted "strange fire" if presented to the Lord.

3. To advise the people concerning the distinction made by the Law between things clean and unclean. There was the food permissible to be eaten, the diseases requiring separation, the times in which ceremonial uncleanness was contracted, etc. All these matters were under the supervision of the priests.

4. To instruct the people generally in the statutes of the Lord. In the absence of written documents, this was a very important part of the duties of the priests, and furnished one of the reasons for afterwards locating their cities amongst the different tribes of Israel. This teaching was the origin of the present exposition of Scripture by the preacher, being now the chief feature of the minister's office. Is the acquaintance of the people with the Bible at all commensurate with the many advantages they enjoy? The Israelites may rise up in the day of judgment to condemn the ignorance of modern civilization.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF RIGHTLY DISCHARGING THESE FUNCTIONS. Consider the happy results that would flow from a proper fulfillment of their obligations, and the dire effects of lax observance of the regulations of the priesthood. In this latter event God. would be insulted anti profaned, his indignation would destroy the slothful servants, anti the nation of Israel would relapse into a state of idolatry and disgrace. No priest lived or died unto himself. The progress and comfort of others were inseparably bound up with his due attendance at the altar.

III. THE NECESSITY OF ABSTAINING FROM WHATEVER IMPAIRS CLEARNESS OF THOUGHT AND STEADINESS OF CONDUCT. The effects of "wine" or "strong drink" are various in different men and at different stages. Carelessness, excitement, stupefaction,—either might ensue, and bring upon the offender the wrath of God. The principle is obvious that the service of God may require abstention from enjoyments otherwise permissible. As the number of priests was at this time so limited, the injunction of the text practically enforced almost continuous abstinence upon them. Enthusiasm stimulated by unworthy means, boldness engendered by false heat, an inability to declare the whole counsel of God, imagination running riot among his precepts,—these are offensive to God in his servants, and expose the possessors to his judgments. To walk not in the path of danger is better than to calculate upon successfully encountering its risks. The householder who cuts off the supply of gas is in no fear of an explosion, nor needs continually to examine the pipes. This prudent method is to be commended where the light furnished is unsteady, or superfluous because of the shining of the purer light. Drink not at the ruddy stream, and you will not dread its poison.—S.R.A.

Leviticus 10:8-11

Sobriety in the priesthood.

The Jews say that Nadab and Abihu were inebriated when they sinned in offering strange fire, and that this law, forbidding intoxicants to the priests while serving in the holy place, was given in consequence. It is remarkable that, whereas both before and after this God spake "by the hand of Moses," the instruction before us was given, immediately, "to Aaron." The reasons for the prohibition are—

I. THAT MINISTERS SHOULD BE RECOLLECTED IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

1. He was present in the tabernacle.

2. And God is jealous of his honour.

II. THAT THEY NEED THEIR FACULTIES TO KEEP THEIR CHARGE,

1. They have to judge in holy things.

(a) that he might save his soul alive,

(b) and that he might fittingly typify Christ, whose judgment in moral and spiritual causes is true.

2. They have to teach the statutes of the Lord.

Leviticus 10:12-15

The eating of the holy things.

In the words of the last paragraph God speaks immediately to Aaron; here Moses resumes, addressing now "Aaron and his sons that were left," or who had escaped the terrible judgment in which Nadab and Abihu were involved. He repeats his instructions concerning—

I. THE MEAT OFFERING REMAINING OF THE OFFERINGS MADE BY FIRE.

1. This was accounted "most holy."

2. It was to be eaten, viz.

II. THE WAVE BREAST AND HEAVE SHOULDER.

1. These were accounted "holy."

2. The holy things were to be eaten in a clean place.

Leviticus 10:16-20

Moses and Aaron an allegory.

Moses may be taken as the impersonation of the Law which was given by his hand (see Luke 16:29; Acts 15:21). Hence the "body of Moses," about which Michael disputed with Satan, is by some supposed to denote the substance of the Law (Jude 1:9). In this view he appeared upon the mount of transfiguration, surrendering to Christ, who, in like manner, impersonated his gospel (Matthew 17:3-5). So the vail over Moses' face represented the shadows in which the Law invested the glory of the Lord until the death of Christ, when the darkness passed away and the true light shined forth. Hence, when the vail, that is to say, the flesh of Christ, was tom in death, the vail of the temple was rent from the top throughout (Matthew 27:50, Matthew 27:51; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Hebrews 9:3, Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 10:20). Aaron's function was to bring out the spiritual meaning of the Law; and so he was a type of Christ, who came not to destroy but to fulfill it. Bearing these things in mind, light may be let in upon the remarkable passage before us. We have here—

I. THE ANGER OF MOSES.

1. Look at the history in the letter.

2. Now look at the moral.

II. THE EXPLANATION OF AARON.

1. The anger of Moses was with the sons of Aaron.

2. But Aaron speaks in his own person for his sons.

3. But what is the import of Aaron's words (Leviticus 10:19)?

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

Leviticus 10:8-10

Wine and worship.

The prohibition of the text only extends to the priest about to officiate in the worship of God; "when ye go into the tabernacle." It had no reference to the domestic use of wine; nor did it separate "strong wine" from sacred service altogether (Exodus 29:42; Numbers 28:7). Perhaps, as some think, it was consequent upon the foregoing scene. But if not so closely connected with it as to be occasioned by it, the fact that its announcement followed that scene in order of time suggests the truth—

I. THAT FROM THE WORSHIP OF GOD EVERY TEMPTATION SHOULD BE RELIGIOUSLY EXCLUDED. If intoxicants would have even the slightest effect on the understanding so that error might be committed, they should be scrupulously avoided: and so with any and every source of peril, whatever it may be. Whatsoever would lead the mind away from God and his truth; whatsoever would interfere with the purity, sincerity, spirituality of public worship, should be shunned. It may be beautiful attire, ornamentation, music, rhetoric, philosophizing, etc. Every man must judge for himself; "happy is he who condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth" (Romans 14:22).

II. THAT IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD EVERY FACULTY SHOULD BE IT FULLEST EXERCISE, If intoxicants are anywise injurious, they enfeeble, they make the body drowsy, the intellect clouded, the spirit heavy and unaspiring. To the worship of God we should bring our best; not by any means the lame and the blind, etc. (Malachi 1:8), nor the second best, but the very best we can bring—the flower in the bud, the fruit adorned with its bloom; not the wearied bodily frame that sinks to sleep while God is being approached; not the mind that has lost its elasticity and strength, but our most vigilant and wakeful, our most vigorous and energetic self. We should bring to his altar the power that can discern between the evil and the good, between the acceptable and the offensive (Leviticus 10:10); and the power that can rise on fleetest and most enduring wing into the heavens of joyful praise and earnest prayer and saving truth.

III. THAT FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD THERE SHOULD BE CAREFUL PREPARATION. The priests were, in virtue of this and other precepts, to consider carefully beforehand what they should do and what they should avoid, that they might be ready to minister unto the Lord. Whether our offering of spiritual sacrifices unto God in his sanctuary (1 Peter 2:5) be acceptable or not, depends not more on the provision which is prepared in the house for us than on the conscientious preparing of our heart before we go up unto it.—C.

Leviticus 10:11

Instruction as well as sacrifice.

These words point to—

I. A SECONDARY DUTY OF THE PRIESTHOODINSTRUCTION. No doubt the primary object of their appointment was sacrifice. Their function was, first of all, to mediate between God and the people, to stand at his altar and present sacrifices unto him. But this did not constitute their whole duty; they were to "teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord had spoken." No doubt the whole tribe of Levi was associated with the priesthood in "teaching Jacob the judgments and Israel the Law" of the Lord (see Deuteronomy 33:8-11; Malachi 2:7; Hosea 4:6).

II. THE TWOFOLD TASK THIS INSTRUCTION INVOLVED. The priests and Levites would have:

1. To make known the particular precepts of the Law, so that the people might bring their proper sacrifices, come at the appointed seasons to the sacred festivals, shun all those things which were prohibited, act rightly in their various domestic and social relations, etc.

2. To explain the spirit and significance of the ritual, so that when the worshippers came to the tabernacle they might not only go through the right forms, but also enter into the spirit of them; so that they should be affected by a sense of sin, by a hope of forgiveness, by a desire to dedicate themselves unto God, by a spirit of holy joy in God and of brotherly love toward their fallows. To communicate all the particulars of the Law, and leave uninterpreted their spiritual significance, would have been to omit an essential part of their sacred duty as religious instructors of the nation. We may be reminded of—

III. THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY. The privilege of those who minister for Christ is also twofold:

1. To lead souls with them to God; to suggest those thoughts and words through which the worshippers may address themselves to him and make their own personal, direct appeal to him.

2. To instruct in Christian truth. And this instruction is to combine two things: it is

IV. THE DUTY OF THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION. That is, to avail themselves of the work of the minister.

1. To follow him spiritually and sympathetically to the throne of grace and, with him, draw nigh to God. in prayer.

2. To seek to understand the mind of God as it is stated and explained.

3. To apply to themselves and their own need. the exhortations which are given.—C.

Leviticus 10:12-20

The spirit of obedience.

The words of Moses appear to have followed. closely upon the incidents described in the opening verses of the chapter. Thus viewed, they show—

I. THAT THE SIN OF SOME MUST NOT INTERFERE WITH THE SERVICE OF OTHERS. (Leviticus 10:12.) Consternation or resentment might have led Aaron and "his sons that were left" to leave the remainder of their sacred duties undischarged. This must not be. The sin of the two sons must not interrupt the service of the Most High. His worship must not cease because two men have erred. Men often plead the inconsistencies and transgressions of others as an excuse for their own shortcoming. They decline to worship God, or to sit down to the table of the Lord, or to work in the vineyard of the Great Husbandman because of their resentment against the wren.—doing of their fellows. This may satisfy themselves, but it will have no weight at all in the balances of the Divine Judge.

II. THAT THE SIN OF SOME NEED NOT INTERFERE WITH THE PRIVILEGE OF OTHERS. (Leviticus 10:14.) The whole congregation were to "bewail the burning which the Lord had kindled" (Leviticus 10:6). But they were, nevertheless, to "eat in a clean place of the sacrifices of peace offerings." The saddest things need not interpose to prevent our enjoyment of the sacred privileges with which God has provided us.

III. THAT RESPONSIBLE MEN MAY WELL BE VIGILANT IN ALL MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE SERVICE OF GOD. (Leviticus 10:16-18.) Moses "diligently sought" the goat which should not have been burnt, but eaten, he showed a holy solicitude to conform to the exact requirements of "the Law of the Lord," and a commendable concern when he thought he discovered a slight departure therefrom. In Christ Jesus we are not bound by any minute commandments like those which regulated the temple service of the Jews. But there is room enough in the Church of Christ for holy vigilance on the part of those who are "over others in the Lord." They should watch keenly to observe and to correct the slightest departure from the spirit of the Master; from the spirit

IV. THAT THE SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE IS EVERYTHING IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. There is something profoundly touching in the excuse (Leviticus 10:19) which Aaron urged. His sons who "were left" had, spite of their bereavement and their fraternal sorrow, "offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord;" they had laid great restraint upon their feelings; they had striven to render the service required of them. And when "such things had befallen him;" when Aaron "held his peace," indeed, but "his sorrow was stirred;" when his parental heart was bleeding,—would the eating of the flesh of the goat in such a "day of desperate grief" have been an acceptable service in the sight of the Lord? Would an act in which there must have been so large a measure of constraint have been in accordance with the will of God? Moses was content with Aaron's plea; he felt that it was sound. We may infer that he was right in accepting it. Had Aaron repined, or had he resented the retributive act of God, he would certainly have sinned. But this he did not. He summoned himself and his sons to continue in the service of the Lord, and only stopped at the point where overcoming sorrow laid its arresting hand upon him. God desires of us

Leviticus 10:12

That which is left to us.

"His sons that were left." Happily and mercifully, it is not often that we suffer such a breach in our life or in our home as that which Aaron was called upon this day to endure; but inroads arc made, suddenly or gradually, upon our sources of joy. Accident (as we call it), disease, treachery, misfortune, the band of time,—these take away our treasures; they strip the goodly tree of its branches, as well as of its leaves. But "though much is taken, much abides." The good man has always consolation in that which is left to him. There is left to us—

I. SOME HUMAN AFFECTION. If not "sons that are left," or daughters, yet friends whose attachment has grown with the growing years.

II. SOME HUMAN ESTEEM. There are those—it may be many, at any rate a few—who hold us in genuine regard; who honour us, and pour on our wounded spirit the precious ointment of their esteem.

III. Solacing memories of faithful work.

IV. The consciousness of our own integrity (Psalms 41:12).

V. The abiding favour and friendship of the Lord (Psalms 125:2).

VI. The hope of eternal life in the presence of God (2 Timothy 4:6).—C.

HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD

Leviticus 10:8-20

Ministers to be examples of purity

The ministers of God's house must be examples of purity and obedience.

I. The influence of PERSONAL CHARACTER on the work of the teacher, "that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes," etc. (Leviticus 10:11).

1. Self-control and temperance necessary to a wise judgment and a correct life. Possibly the offense of Nadab and Abihu owing to intemperance.

2. The teacher needs the respect of the taught to uphold him in his work.

3. The difference between the holy and the unholy, the clean and the unclean, should be seen as well as heard described.

II. THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY may be safely left to come out of the faithful discharge of duty. If the priests are at their post, they will get their portion (Leviticus 10:12-15). "It shall be thine by a statute for ever."

III. THE ERRORS AND OMISSIONS, as well as sins of the ministry, should be "diligently sought after." But in the spirit of charity, not with harsh and censorious judgment. Aaron's excuse was the overwhelming stress of natural feeling. Ministers are but men. Domestic affliction often clouds their mind and burdens their spirit. Moses was content when he understood that the law of nature was honoured; and there is no true sanctity in observances which violate the first principles of humanity, and subvert the natural feelings of the human heart. The slavish system of Rome exalts religious law at the expense of natural justice, and destroys man while it professes to save him. No true religion is cruel The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of mercy.—R.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Leviticus 10:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/leviticus-10.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 30th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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