Leviticus 10:6
Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not let your hair become disheveled and do not tear your garments, or else you will die, and the LORD will be angry with the whole congregation. But your brothers, the whole house of Israel, may mourn on account of the fire that the LORD has ignited.
Nadab and AbihuJ.A. Macdonald Leviticus 10:1-7
Strange Fire; and Jehovah's Judgment Upon itR.A. Redford Leviticus 10:1-7
Counterfeit FireR.M. Edgar Leviticus 10:1-11
Self-Restraint and UtteranceW. Clarkson Leviticus 10:3-7
Submission in BereavementR.M. Edgar Leviticus 10:3-7, 12-20
Restrictions and Infirmities of Religious ServiceS.R. Aldridge Leviticus 10:6, 7
That honour involves responsibility is implied in many of these ordinances, and is recognized in the judgment passed on the conduct of men occupying conspicuous positions in society and in the Church. To be dedicated to God's service was an inestimable privilege conferred on Aaron and his family, Their time and labour were bestowed upon high and holy employments, The seal of God was stamped upon their brow, the people regarded them with respect and provided for their maintenance. Compare the honourable position of ministers, missionaries, yea, all the followers of Christ now, and note that there arc special restrictions consequent upon their consecration, and common infirmities to which they are subject equally with others.


1. Forbidden to mingle with the world in its engagements. "Not go out of the sanctuary," at least for a season, they are deprived of the liberty others enjoy, Pursuits which may be harmlessly indulged in by others are unbecoming to them.

2. Prohibited from contact with all that is defiling. They must not touch the dead bodies of their relations; the cousins of Aaron shall perform the last offices for their brethren. What concord hath the Spirit of life with death? To profane the holy unction is to incur the Divine displeasure. "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient." "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."

3. Free manifestation of grief at God's visitations not permitted. The usual relief found in expression is excluded; there must be no signs of mourning upon the priests. Let it suffice for the nation to "bewail the burning." How shall the oil of gladness consort with mourning? The people of God are not to be demonstrative in their sorrow at his chastisements, lest it be misconstrued, and others, taking occasion from their example, go further and even denounce the ways of God, and so "wrath come upon" them. We must remember the wisdom of the Almighty and the glory due unto his Name. Will not the world entertain hard thoughts concerning him if we his servants are over-loud in lamentation?

II. THE INFIRMITIES which are not prevented.

1. They are subject to the common losses and bereavements. There is no special providence in this respect. Even Aaron and his sons have to bow before afflicting dispensations. If it were otherwise great part of the discipline of life would be omitted from the training of God's chiefest scholars.

2. They also feel the natural pangs of sorrow. It is evidently so in the present case, or the command to refrain from the usual manifestations of grief would not have been issued. God's ministers are not expected to become hard-hearted and callous, but they are not to give way to outbursts of anguish.

3. They are liable to commit acts displeasing to God. Nadab and Abihu are a solemn warning of the possibility of transgression. Even Christians of repute fall into grievous sin. They get hurried away by worldly passion, and offer unacceptable worship.

CONCLUSION. Observe the influence of our behaviour upon

(1) the honour of God, and

(2) the welfare of our fellows.

He who expects great things of us wilt also, if we ask him, accord us the necessary strength to enable us to comply with his demands. Whilst conscious of the importance attaching to all our actions, we need not be depressed with a load of anxiety. We may "rejoice in the Lord alway." - S.R.A.

Aaron held his peace.
I. THE DISTURBING INFLUENCES. Physical sufferings, secular anxieties, social grievances, moral remorse, heart bereavements. To the last of these Aaron was now the victim.

1. He has lost two sons. A double trial.

2. He had lost two sons after they had reached maturity.

3. After they had entered upon the most important and honourable office in life. What a disappointment!

4. In the most sudden way.

5. With no hope for their future blessedness. They were struck down by offended justice, without a moment for repentance.


1. There are three kinds of calming influences that are resorted to by men under trial — the carnal, the stoical, and the Christian.

2. The last of these is the only true tranquilising force. It contains at least four doctrines that tend to pacify the human spirit under the most trying circumstances of life.(1) That all who have implicit confidence in Christ as the Mediator are reconciled to God and delivered from condemnation.(2) That every disturbing event takes place under the superintendence of God.(3) That God has an absolute right to dispose of all things as He thinks fit.(4) That the most painful events to the good are short, and may be rendered subservient to their highest interest. They deepen the sense of our individuality by detaching us from society and making us in our sufferings feel our loneliness; they impress us with the unsatisfactoriness of all things pertaining to this material life. Southey has, with great poetic beauty, described how the calamities of life afflict the pious soul: they are only as clouds passing over the moon, making the queen of night appear more majestic in her march.


I. EVEN A CHILD OF GOD MAY BE EXERCISED WITH SORE TRIALS AND AFFLICTIONS, THAT MAY LIE VERY HEAVY UPON HIM. (Psalm 38:2; Job 9:17). And what wonder, if the children of God meet with trials upon earth, where they were never promised, nor could rationally expect their rest? What wonder, seeing they so often sin, and procure the evils under which they groan? All this is consistent with the love of a father, and our relation to him.


1. A deep sense of God's hand in what we suffer. This was the ground of David's silence: "I was dumb, and I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it" (Psalm 39:9). And Hezekiah, mourning, directs his eye to God and heaven. "What shall I say? He hath both spoken unto me, and Himself hath done it" (Isaiah 38:15).

2. It includes a subscribing to God's justice in all His dealings with us, and that whatever He takes from us or lays upon us, we dare not to conclude the worse of Him in our thoughts or to open our mouths against Him. Thus being silent is opposed to self-justification, as being convinced that He hath punished us less than our iniquities deserve.

3. It includes a resigning ourselves to God, as having the most unquestionable dominion over us, and right to do with us and ours as seems good in His sight (Job 3:12).

4. It includes resting in His pleasure, as that which is wisest and best; in opposition to murmuring and impatience, inward frets and discomposure of soul.


1. From God's unquestionable right to dispose of us and ours as He pleases. When it is His will which is done upon us, His sovereignty should teach His creatures to be silent (Romans 9:21, 22).

2. It should teach us to be silent in whatever instance God afflicts; as it is He that continues to us many other mercies, which have been all forfeited, and which might have been as justly removed as those He has taken away.

3. We ought to be silent under what God will have us suffer, as considering we have many ways sinned and offended against Him (Job 40:4, 5).

4. We have reason to be silent, as considering that all God's dispensations, how afflictive soever, are conducted by unerring wisdom to His own glory. And if God be glorified, why should we be dissatisfied?

5. The people of God have reason to be silent under every affliction He brings upon them, considering He hath made with them an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure, which is sufficient to be all their salvation and is all their desire (2 Samuel 23:5).Application:

1. To be impatient under affliction is unbecoming a child of God, considered as a new creature.

2. To oppose our wills to the will of God is high presumption, and both provoking to God, and dangerous to ourselves (Isaiah 45:9).

3. It is contrary to our covenant engagements. When we yielded ourselves to God, did we not expressly agree that He should lead us to heaven, and that we would follow Him through what way He pleased to show us — through seas or wildernesses, or through any, even the roughest paths, so He brought us safe to the promised land.

4. Impatience under affliction is inconsistent with our own prayers. Submission to the will of God is, or ought to be, our daily request, and especially under such trials.

5. It would bring us under the charge of ingratitude to our best benefactor and friend. Has God heard my main prayer, and drawn me to Christ? Yet, if He lays His hand upon me in this or the other instance, shall I by my complaints drown all the remembrance of His former loving-kindness and grace? Moreover, what a slight should we put on the remaining everlasting rest, should we repine at present sufferings, which are so soon to issue in endless joy!

(D. Wilcox).


1. It certainly implies, in the first place, that the afflicted and bereaved should not complain of the Divine conduct towards them. They have no ground to complain, because God takes nothing from them but what He has given them, and inflicts no more upon them than they deserve and He has a right to inflict.

2. For the afflicted to hold their peace implies that they not only cease to complain, but that they cease to think hard of God. It is much easier to suppress their verbal complaints than to suppress all their inward repinings under the correcting hand of God.

3. The only way in which the afflicted and bereaved can get rid of their inward murmuring thoughts is cordially to approve of the conduct of God in causing them to suffer their present afflictions and bereavements. Nothing can remove hatred of God but love to God. Nothing can remove opposition to God but submission to God.


1. Because they always deserve the bereavements which they are called to suffer. They are under the same obligations to submit silently and unreservedly under the frowns of God as to rejoice under His smiles.

2. The afflicted and bereaved ought to hold their peace and silently submit to the correcting hand of God because He has a right to afflict and bereave them whenever He sees it necessary to do it

3. It becomes the afflicted and bereaved to bow in silence to the sovereign will of God because He always afflicts and bereaves them at the proper time. It is well that God does not allow men to choose when He shall afflict them. He always knows the best time, and when He does afflict them they must know that He sees good reasons to afflict them at that time rather than any other. And since He sees good reasons for afflicting them at such a particular time they have no ground to complain but ought silently to submit to His unerring wisdom, whether they are high or low, or whether they are young or old.

4. That men ought to hold their peace under the afflicting hand of God because He always afflicts them in the best way as well as at the best time.Improvement:

1. It appears from the nature of silent submission under Divine corrections, that it must be highly pleasing to God. It is the very spirit which He requires them to feel and express while He lays His chastising hand upon them. He says to them, "Be still, and know that I am God."

2. It appears from the nature of sincere submission under trials and afflictions that insubmission is extremely criminal. When either saints or sinners complain under Divine corrections they practically say that He who has made them shall not reign over them. Can there be anything more displeasing to God?

3. It appears from the nature of true submission under afflictions that it is something different from stupidity. Stupidity consists in despising the chastenings of the Lord. Mankind are far more apt to be stupid than to be faint under afflictions and bereavements. They try to overlook the hand of God in them, and to consider them as mere accidents, or necessary evils, which could not be avoided and must be borne. Such stupidity under Divine corrections in the sinners in Zion God severely condemned. If afflictions do not remove stupidity they increase it; if they do not soften the heart they harden it; and if they do not produce submission they create obstinacy. But the afflicted are extremely apt to misconstrue the effect of their afflictions and to mistake stupidity for submission, and imagine that they feel resigned when they only feel stupid and insensible.

4. True submission is diametrically opposite to stupidity and is perfectly consistent with the keenest sensibility under the correcting hand of God. It becomes the bereaved to view their bereavements, as far as possible, in all their painful effects and consequences, that they may exercise a deep and unlimited submission to the Divine corrections. Though Aaron held his peace and refrained from speaking, yet he did not refrain from thinking. His mind was undoubtedly awake, and all his powers and faculties in vigorous exercise. There is much more danger of feeling too little than of feeling too much under Divine chastisements.

5. If the afflicted and bereaved ought to hold their peace under the chastising hand of God, then they ought to submit to the heaviest as well as to the lightest chastisements.

6. It appears from the nature of submission that it is easy for the afflicted and bereaved to determine whether they do or do not sincerely submit to the correcting hand of God. There is no medium between approving or disapproving His conduct in afflicting them.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

An ancient philosopher has said, "Light sorrows speak; great sorrows are silent." The experience of the human heart, and of this life, where affliction has so many degrees and arrays itself in so many different shades, justifies this observation. The sacred poets of Israel, in this thought, had anticipated pagan wisdom (see Isaiah 47:5; Lamentations 2:12, 13).

1. The impressions and the conduct of Aaron cannot be usefully estimated without a knowledge of the event.

2. It is a test of humility to be silent in the bosom of an irreparable loss, of a profound affliction.

3. In the mute sorrow of Aaron, there is more than this wise humility; we must see there also acquiescence.

4. Lastly, it is just to recognise in the conduct of Aaron lowly and firm resignation.

(A, Coquerel.)

Doubtless Aaron looked somewhat heavily on this sad spectacle: it could not but appal him to see his two sons dead before him — dead in displeasure, dead suddenly, dead by the immediate hand of God. And now he could repent him of his new honour to see it succeed so ill with the sons of his loins; neither could he choose but see himself stricken in them. But his brother Moses, that had learned not to know either nephews or brother when they stood in his way to God, wisely turned his eyes from the dead carcases of his sons to his respect of the living God. My brother, this event is fearful, but just; these were thy sons, but they sinned; it was not for God, it is not for thee, to look so much who they were, as what they did. If they have profaned God and themselves, can thy natural affection so miscarry thee that thou couldst wish their impunity with the blemish of thy Maker? Show now whether thou more lovest God or thy sons. Showy whether thou be a better father or a son. Aaron, weighing these things, holds his peace, not out of an amazement or sullenness, but out of patient and humble sub. mission; and seeing God's pleasure, and their desert, is content to forget that he had sons. He might have had a silent tongue, and a clamorous heart. There is no voice louder in the ears of God, than a speechless repining of the soul. There is no greater proof of grace, than to smart patiently, and humbly and contentedly to rest the heart in the justice and wisdom of God's proceeding.

(Bp. Hall.)

Serious people sometimes wonder how it shall be at the last day — how godly parents shall be able to bear the sight of their Christless children given over to everlasting death; whether the knowledge or sight of near and beloved relatives in perdition will not interrupt and destroy the peace Of heaven. But, if such persons would reason upon the subject from a standpoint higher than the mere sympathies of nature, they would have less trouble concerning it. Aaron looking upon his slain sons, is a picture of how it shall be. When God's ultimate judgments shall go into effect, their justice shall be so conspicuous, and the goodness and glory of God in them shall be so luminous and manifest, that it will not be in the power of any ransomed soul to think of demurring, or indulging one tearful regret. When we come to see things in the light of heaven, every enemy of God will appear so essentially an enemy to ourselves and our peace, that, however otherwise related to us, we will be glad to see them shut up in the dreadful prison-house for ever and for ever. What are domestic ties and sympathies in comparison with the glorious will of our blessed Lord? Jesus says, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me." Every saint is fully wrapped up in the righteousness, wisdom, and goodness of his Lord. Everything that God does carries the heart of the ransomed ones so completely with it, and so overwhelms and swallows up all other affections, that they are as utter nothing. Nadab and Abihu may die for ever under Aaron's very eyes, and yet God's honour and glory in it leave him not a tear to shed, and not a word of lamentation to utter.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)


1. His patriotism — he would feel that Israel as a nation was disgraced.

2. His piety — religion was dishonoured and God insulted.

3. His paternity.(1) It is a great grief for parents to watch their children die when they have seen the end approaching, but in Aaron's case the bereavement was sudden.(2) It is a great grief for parents to surrender their children even when they feel sure they die in the Lord, but, in Aaron's case, his sons died under the frown of the Lord, and concerning their future he could have no sure and certain hope. To lose two sons under such circumstances was sorrow of the most poignant kind.


(F. W. Brown.)

If I so hold a mirror that I cause it to reflect on your dazzled vision the brilliant rays of the sun, that mirror adds nothing to the lustre of the grand orb of day; it only directs the light towards you. If I write to you in most glowing and graphic terms concerning my bosom friend, I do not thereby increase his well-known talents and virtues. I simply beget in your mind, or foster, feelings of admiration, respect or love. So when you and I praise God, we do not, we cannot, augment His essential glory. It is impossible for us finite and dependent creatures to add anything to the infinite love, wisdom, and power of the Divine One. But we can elevate Him in our own estimation, increase our own comfort, stimulate our own spiritual life, and intensify the affection which others entertain for Him.

(J. H. Hitehen, D. D.)

As I have felt a tear drop from a cloudless sky, and wondered whence it could come, so have I seen a fair countenance full of openness, serenity, and majesty, and the large still tear standing in the eye. Yet no single muscle was distorted; it seemed to me like the stillness of intense emotion, like the sorrow of goodness, like a broken heart at peace with its own woe; as though one, whose hopes of earthly bliss had all vanished, were comforted from within by the presence and assurance of Holy Love, saying, "It is well, peace be unto thee."

(John Pulsford, D. D.)

The broken heart is like a broken harp. The harp is either absolutely silent, or sends forth discordant sounds. Human grief is so deep that it is either speechless or gives expression to bitter complaints and hard thoughts. Whatever human ministries may accomplish by way of modifying it, they do not heal. Here is the superiority of Christ Jesus in His treatment. He "heals" the broken-hearted.

— A certain heathen making an oration, as he was sacrificing to his god, in the midst of his devotion, word was brought him that his only son was dead: whereat being nothing at all moved, he made this answer, "I did not get him to live for ever;" and so went on with his business. Thus when we are entering into the sight of God's favour, it may so please Him to try us by afflictions; there may news come of a ship wrecked at sea, of a chapman broke in the country, of the death of friends and allies, &c. Yet ought we not for all this to leave off our course in the service of Him, but rather whatsoever comes cross, make it as it were a parenthesis, an ornament, not a hindrance, in our progress to heaven.

(J. Spencer.)

Valerius Maximus tells a story of a young nobleman, that attended upon Alexander, while he was sacrificing; this nobleman held his censer for incense, and in the holding of it, there fell a coal of fire upon his flesh, and burned it so as the very scent of it was in the nostrils of all that were about him; and because he would not disturb Alexander in his service, he resolutely did not stir to put off the fire from him, but held still the censer. If heathens made such ado, in sacrificing to their idol gods, that they would mind it so as no disturbance must be made, whatsoever they endured: what care should we then have of ourselves, when we come to worship the High God? Oh that we could mind the duties of God's worship, as matters of high concernment, as things of greatest consequence, that so we might learn to sanctify the name of our God in the performance of duty more than ever we have done.

(J. Spencer.)

Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes. There is such a thing as sinning through over-tenderness of feeling; and unless we are on the "watch just here, we shall fail of being both just and merciful in our sympathies and in our conduct. When a great crime is committed, it is not a wise exhibit of tender feelings to dwell upon the peculiar temptations, and the peculiar weaknesses, and the unfortunate early disadvantages of the brutal criminal, to a forgetfulness of the sufferings of his innocent victims, and of the wretchedness which his crime has brought into one home and another. It is not that we are to take vengeance into our own hands; but that we are to refrain from mourning over the execution of justice. It is a sinful as well as a sickly sentimentalism which gives its tears to the criminal class in the community, instead of to those who are wronged through crime. The prevalence of this sentimentalism is one of the stimulating causes of crime. There is need of the re-echoing of the words of God to His people over the displays of His justice, "Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes" [in mourning over the evil-doers] "but let... the whole house of Israel bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled." Let the crime be mourned over, but not the criminal — as a criminal.

(H. C. Trumbull.)

That oil must separate between you and the appearance of unbelief; that oil is a restraint as well as an inspiration. Is it not so now, varying the terms and the relations of things? If we could enter into the spirit of that restriction, what different men we should be I The name of your country is upon you: dishonour it not. A venerable name, never associated with meanness, cowardice, corruption, or fear of man. Rise to the dignity of the signature which is upon you. When you flee, the enemy will say your country has fled; when you play the coward, the enemy will say the throne has tottered and the sovereign has succumbed. The holy vow is upon you. You said you would be better and do better. You punctuated the vow with hot tears; your emphasis was quite an unfamiliar tone, so much so that we wondered at the poignancy of your utterance, and felt in very deed that you were speaking the heart's truth. Remember that vow. The vow of the Lord is upon you. If you stoop, it will not be condescension, it will be base prostration; if you palter with the reality of language, it will not be ability in the use of words, it will be the profanation of the medium which God has established for the conveyance and the interchange of truth. The exalted position is yours. You are the head of a family: if you go wrong, the whole family will suffer to the second and third and fourth generations. You are known and trusted in business: if you be found mean, untrustworthy, faithless, deceitful, the whole city will feel the anguish of a pang, for you were regarded as a trustee of its honour and its reputation. The anointing oil is upon you in some form or in some way. The name of Christ is upon us all. We cannot get rid of it. In this way or in that we have all to do with Christ, with His name, His honour, His cross, His crown.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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