What does it say?
Dressed in their ceremonial robes and accessories, the priests are consecrated to ministry (Lev 8). The ordination includes ceremonial cleansing, anointing and special sacrifices for purification.
Following the week of consecration, the priests enter into the exercise of their duties of leading in the sacrificial offerings (Lev 9). Fire falls from Heaven, indicating God’s acceptance of the sacrifices.
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu disregard God’s instruction to use only the fire continually burning upon the altar. They die stricken by the fire of God’s holiness from above (Lev 10). Only one week into living according to the Law Moses received on the mount, this event must have made an indelible impression on everyone. Eleazar and Ithamar replace their dead brothers in the priesthood, as both Aaron and Moses struggle to process what has just happened and move forward. This chapter records the only time in Leviticus that God speaks directly to Aaron alone.
What does it mean?
Leviticus is often the place where best intentions to read through the Bible die. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t try to understand all the details and symbolism. This is your devotion and Bible reading time, not an in-depth study. The more you read, the more you will understand. I promise! For now, just understand that God is working to deal with the human sin issue and is painting a picture that redemption is through grace upon a substitutionary blood sacrifice in the sinner’s place.
God gives detailed instructions for the priesthood, the sacrifices and the tabernacle. Everything pertains to his mission. Nadab and Abiu go wrong by thinking they can add to what God has spoken. Any attempt at do-it-yourself religion ends badly. There is one God, one story, one mission, and one way to deal with sin and enter into his presence.
How will I respond?
Am I sometimes guilty of trying to serve God by my own efforts and ideas rather than being faithful to what he has already spoken? A serious problem for many believers is biblical illiteracy. They simply do not know what the scriptures say, much less what they mean and how they apply to real life situations. Have I struggled to stay faithful to this Bible reading? The most important step I can take today is to renew my resolve to read through the Bible. I won’t worry as much about trying to catch up, but simply to stay on course from this point forward.