These young men were self-willed, and perhaps also excited by strong drink, and therefore daringly violated the Lord’s commands in his own immediate presence. They followed their own wills as to time, place, and manner of offering the incense, no doubt considering these to be small matters, but indeed nothing is small in the service of God. He will be worshipped in his own way, and not in ours. There is more sin than they suppose in altering the ordinances as some do in our day. Moreover, there is one fire in the church, namely the Holy Spirit, and one incense, namely the merit of Jesus, and it is a daring impiety to seek other excitement, or offer any other righteousness to God.
The devouring flame flashed right across the mercy seat and slew them. Think of that, and remember that they were minister’s sons and ministers themselves. Even our God is a consuming fire. They died while offering a vain will-worship, and it is to be feared that thousands will perish in like manner. Let us be careful and prayerful, and walk jealously before the jealous God; seeking even to worship him as his own Word directs.
Even as all godly parents must when they see their graceless children perish before the Lord. God is most strict with those nearest to him. Let such be very jealous over themselves.
Leviticus 10:4, 5
Thus all saw them and were warned. Sad indeed that these who should have taught holiness by their lives, could only teach it by becoming warnings of divine wrath in their deaths.
Leviticus 10:6, 7
The nearest friends were called upon to approve the divine justice. Others might mourn the sin and doom of the offenders, but their brethren were bidden to make no sign of mourning.
Probably because Nadab and Abihu had been drinking, all priests were for the future forbidden to drink wine at times of service. It is a foul sin when the Christian minister seeks to stimulate his eloquence by wine; it is offering strange fire before the Lord, and will surely be visited upon him. He who serves God must be calm, sober, and not excited with any fleshly passion. O for a baptism of the Holy Ghost, to free the Lord’s ministers from every false excitement, and make them wait upon the Lord in quiet holiness.
Holy and reverend is the name
Of our eternal King!
“Thrice holy Lord,” the angels cry,
“Thrice holy,” let us sing.
With sacred awe pronounce His name,
Whom words nor thoughts can reach,
A contrite heart shall please Him more
Than noblest forms of speech.
Thou holy God, preserve my soul
From all pollution free;
The pure in heart are Thy delight,
And they Thy face shall see.