“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”
Immediately preceding these events Aaron and his sons (including Nadab and Abihu) had been consecrated to the Lord’s service as priests and HAD WITNESSED THE GLORY OF GOD as fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering they had made upon the altar (Leviticus 9:24). In fact, so near were these events that there were still portions of the sacrifices that had been offered during the consecration ceremony that were to have been eaten by Aaron and his sons which had not been eaten as of yet (Leviticus 10:12-20). Now, another fire came out from before the Lord and devoured Nadab and Abihu because they offered profane fire before the Lord. Moses then tells Aaron, “"This is what the Lord spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.' " (Leviticus 10:3).
As I read these events, I am amazed at how quickly as humans we can witness the great glory of God and IMMEDIATELY FORGET IT! Nadab and Abihu had witnessed the glory of God as God consumed the sacrifices on the altar, but then immediately went and offered profane fire before God and did not regard God as holy! It is hard to believe how they could have done such a thing.
But before I get on my “high horse” all I have to do is consider myself and how often I can see the glory of God as I behold a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a precious baby taking his or her first steps, or the majesty of a horse in the pasture and seconds later grumble or curse because someone has cut in front of me as I am driving or I see some politician on TV that says something that upsets me. I need to work on not forgetting to remember that God is holy and He must be continually glorified by me!
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11)