"3 These are the generations of Aaron and Moses at the time when the Lord spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai.2 These are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3 These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he ordained to serve as priests. 4 But Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. So Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests in the lifetime of Aaron their father."
We have already seen in the last chapter the emphasis on the importance of a proper order of proceedings. This is a theme that runs throughout not only the Pentateuch, but indeed throughout the Old Testament as a whole (cf Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; 1 Chronicles 15:13; 16:40; 28:11,12,19; Hebrews 8:5). It is this that explains the severity of the judgment that came upon the sons of Aaron. Their infringement was conscious and deliberate and, doubtless, accentuated by the fact that they were among those who ascended the mount of God with Moses (Exodus 24:1, 9). The lesson of the incident, underlines the seriousness of departing from God's way and God's command in His service. It is a lesson of timeless and perennial significance. There is a service of the sanctuary and a service of the Lord that He is not prepared to own, which owes its inspiration not to the holy fire of the altar of the gospel, but to other sources and other fires and, be it never so sincere, never so earnest, never so dedicated, it is bound to come to grief. To serve God acceptably, we must light our flame at His altar. Let this be our inspiration and our dynamic. This is a word of considerable relevance today, when the need for new, modern methods in 'getting the gospel over' to our generation is repeatedly emphasised. We need to beware lest a question of methodology become one of theology. It would be easy to stray from the divine order through a desire for innovation for innovation's sake, and thereby lose contact with the divine fire which alone can give true inspiration.