The spiritual lives of our faith leaders are very important. They need to be able to distinguish between “the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.” I suppose this is why drinking on the job, as a priest or pastor, is frowned upon!
Some commentators believe Nadab and Abihu had been drinking “wine” or “strong drink” while doing their work at the tabernacle, which would be the reason why this is the passage where the prohibition against priestly drinking is given. This makes sense to me.
Of course, there is more going on in this passage.
Nadab and Abihu also violated God’s Law with their “unauthorized fire.” God had just lit on fire the offerings on the altar, and in the very next moment, these two priests were doing their own thing at God’s tabernacle. It was as if they were saying, “Well, that’s nice, God. But we’ve got some good ideas, too.”
Perhaps the most important thing to know about this chapter is the fact that God chooses what sacrifices and what rituals are acceptable to Him. And the most important sacrifice that has been offered was the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The application for us today is that we, as a church and as pastors and as “priests,” ought to be focused squarely on life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We shouldn’t offer God our own “truth.” We come to him simply in faith.
Many churches make mistakes here. They want to please culture, and so they alter God’s commandments to suit their culture. They walk around with “unauthorized fire.” I think of those churches that refuse to talk about sin or try to argue away the clear words of God on certain topics, like gender and homosexuality.
And, of course, the global church long has struggled with the idea of works-righteousness, the idea there are other ways to God besides the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul had something to say about this – “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Read Galatians 1:6-10 when you have time.
There is only one gospel by which a person can be saved. There is only one sacrifice for our sins. There is only one Savior.
And so Leviticus 10 is about how God established rules for the people’s worship and for the rituals that brought them into relationship with him – and how quickly some began to move in their own direction rather than God’s.
Let us be aware of this as a church.