“Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own censer, put fire in it, laid incense over it, and offered unauthorized fire before Adonai—which He had not commanded them. So fire came out from the presence of Adonai and consumed them. So they died before Adonai” (Leviticus 10:1-2, TLV).
This week while meditating on Nadab and Abihu, I started seeing a pattern with the leadership and their offspring, siblings, or mentorees. Along with Aaron’s sons, I read about Aaron and Miriam speaking against their brother, Moses. Then I was reminded of Gehazi, who lied and usurped his mentor, Elisha. We can’t forget David and Uzzah and carrying the Ark in an unholy manner. Uzzah lost his balance, grasped the Ark where the Shekinah glory resided, and he, too, died before Adonai. The Ark was to be carried by 4 Levites lifting the poles through the rings on the Ark. No one was to touch the Ark. David disobeyed when he put the Ark on a cart. In Numbers 7:9, Moses made it clear that the holy things of God were to be carried on the shoulders.
Have you ever gotten in a hurry with Holy things?
“But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the Ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the Ark of God” (II Samuel 6:6-7, NASB). How grievous to read.
While reading these stories, I noticed several things going on with the people:
- They did not know their identity
- They were jealous
- There was pride involved
- They did not fear Adonai enough
- They were disobedient
I often meditate on Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the Holy One in his generation. We need His grace. As things grow darker, people grow colder, and at times we have a lesser fear of a Holy God. The Holy One said, “Stand before me and be holy.” Aaron’s sons were dressed in fine linen. Their garments served to atone for the sins of Israel. (Exo 28:36) “And you shall make a plate of clean gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet: SET-APARTNESS TO YHVH.
Nadab and Abihu did not know their identity. They did not have a strong enough fear of Adonai to obey His instructions. Nadab and Abihu weren’t authorized to offer the burnt incense. Perhaps they thought they had equal authority with their father or Uncle Moses. Maybe they believed because they were sons and nephews, they had more favor than others. They offered strange fire before The Lord, or rather unauthorized (zā·rāh) fire. One meaning of Zarah is a harlot. Harlot fire (aish zarah). Ouch, that sounds hot.
Nadab and Abihu died before Adonai. Have you ever died before Adonai? Became leprous before Adonai? Silenced like Aaron or Zechariah, who was mute for a period? Placed outside the camp like Miriam?
Author and teacher, Kisha Gallagher @ Grace in Torah explains more concerning Aaron’s sons in her blog Hebrew Numbers 1-10:
Torah Portion Shemini – “Eighth” (Lev. 9:1-11:47) describes what occurs “on the eighth day” after the inauguration of the Tabernacle. Aaron’s sons brought an esh Zarah, a strange fire, before Adonai and His fire consumed them. There is a connection between the brazen altar and the incense altar (the latter being the offering of Aaron’s sons). Both discern between the spirit and the nephesh. While some nephesh might remain after passing through the brazen altar, none can be present at the golden altar, which is closer to the Presence of the Holy One. For YHWH, our God is a consuming fire; He is a jealous God. (Dt. 4:24) His priests are required to teach the people the difference between the holy and the profane. (Lev. 10:10-11) While “new beginnings” sound wonderful to the soul, it is imperative that one considers the cost for this to occur. All new life, new births, and new beginnings require a death (at least figuratively). The old must die in order for new life or for a new beginning to occur. For more, click HERE.
Aaron had his own issues with the golden calf and then we read a story in Numbers where Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. “And they said, “Has יהוה spoken only through Mosheh? Has He not also spoken through us?” And יהוה heard it” (Numbers 12:2, ISR).
Miriam was a prophetess. Aaron was a prophet and High Priest. They ask a question: “Has the Holy One only spoken through Moses?” Has He not also spoken through us? “We have prophetic gifts too,” they chime. Can you see how their focus was on comparing their positions, gifts, and titles with their little brother, Moses? They did not know their identity, or they wanted to be in a greater position of authority. Jealousy and pride were at work. They were having identity issues. Many times, we do not know the price of our mentors. The trail they blazed, the time in the desert, the crushing and sorrow and dying to fleshly things they’ve been through. At other times, we are not humble or aware of who we work for or our co labors. We are servants of a great King.
Elijah was over the school of the prophets, and he was told to pass his mantle down to Elisha. Next, we meet a man named Gehazi who seems to be next in line. This man is the prime example of the immature prophet. He appears on the scene and informs Elisha that the Shunamite woman who has made a room for him longs for a son. Elisha prays and she becomes pregnant and has a son. One day the son becomes ill and dies. The woman rides on her donkey to see Elisha and this is when we learn that his assistant has character issues.
- Gehazi acted roughly with the Shunamite woman who was in distress. (And when she came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me.” (II Kings 4:27, ESV). Once Elisha realizes her son is dead, he instructs Gehazi to take his staff and lay it on the boy.
- “It was while on the way to Shunem with Elisha’s staff that Gehazi proved himself to be a skeptic concerning the resurrection. He considered the whole procedure a joke (Pirá¸³e R. El. ), and instead of obeying the order not to address even one word to any passer-by, nor return any salutation, he asked derisively of those he met whether they believed the staff had the power to restore the dead to life. For this reason, he failed” (Study Light encyclopedia).
- “Therefore, when Gehazi returned after inducing Naaman to give him presents, Elisha, in his rebuke, enumerated eight precious things which Gehazi had taken, and told him that it was time for him to take the punishment prescribed for one who catches any of the eight sheraá, the punishment being in his case leprosy. The four lepers at the gate announcing Sennacherib’s defeat were Gehazi and his three sons (Soá¹ 47a) (Study Light Encyclopedia).
Let’s compare Gehazi with the others above in our next story. Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Syria. He had high favor. The Father had given victory to Syria. He was described as a mighty man of valor. Then we read, “But he was a leper.” Long story short, he learns of the prophet Elisha and is told by his servant, a young girl, that if he would go see the prophet, the prophet could cure him or rather instruct him on how to be cleansed.
“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” (II Kings 5:9-10, ESV).
Namaan expected Elisha to come out and wave his hands over leprosy and call out in a loud voice in The name of his God! Presto chango. The immature prophets/priests have a formula. They think they can change or alter the commandments or the pattern given by the Holy One (Carrying fire/cart/staff).
Many of the false/immature prophets need healing and mentorship. We never lose the gifts, but we can lose the anointing of a spirit of humility. Yeshua gives a strong warning in Matthew 7:22-23, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of (Torahlessness) lawlessness.’” They were doing works but lacked obedience.
In this Parsha, Aaron’s sons are consumed by fire. Their bodies are carried outside still in their priestly garments. On the other hand, Naaman humbles himself, dips seven times in the Jordan, and gets skin like a newborn baby.
When people lack humility, lack Torah, have identity crisis and greed, they miss the beautiful calling the Holy One has uniquely designed for them. How sad to be called as a servant of the Holy One and be consumed with the gifts and callings of others instead of putting horse blinders on and doing what He has called us to do!
In Acts, the prophets are named, and they converse with Paul and others and tell them what they hear in their gifted ears, but today this is primarily obsolete in most assemblies, but one day the gifts and callings will be whole, unified, and full of humility. Each knowing their identity and getting busy doing what He has created us to do for His Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven.
Back to Naaman. Once whole, he offers Elisha silver and gold and gifts, but Elisha refused and blessed him and sent him on his way, but then Elisha’s mentoree, Gehazi, takes off after Naaman’s chariot and pulls him over. Have you ever got pulled over by the authorities? Authorities that were leprous and did not know their conditions?
“But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
Gehazi tells him his master Elisha has sent him.
“There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.'”
And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. (Notice all the 2’s) (2, 2, 2).
And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.
If only Gehazi had known his identity and what he was training for. If only He had the wisdom to know that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro: (II Chronicles 16:9, tells us. “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His.”
One day Ephraim will purchase the silver of redemption and dip in the Jordan 7 times and received new garments like Naaman, clean as a fresh baby’s skin. I long for the day,
Gehazi’s heart was lacking humility. His heart was seeking material things. His heart was full of greed and pomp and lies. He lacked empathy, dishonored Elisha, and found no worth in his instructions. My heart grieves over those who have such opportunities and have been called and chosen for such a time as this but are throwing their gifts away, burying them, or seeking wealth and fame.
May we get busy doing what He called us to do with our eyes on Him. Our hearts seeking His goodwill and plan. Our hearts trusting in His resurrection of the dead. His Son, Yeshua Messiah, raised on the 3rd day. The power of the Ruach poured out in Acts 2, and the gifts of the spirit, walking and using them for His Glory with a holy fear and honor to our King who has called and equipped us to do what He has uniquely designed for our hands, mouths, feet, and every part of us to be consumed and laid on the altar as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him and obedient.