Unauthorized Fire

Leviticus 10:1, “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them.” ESV

“Nadab and Abihu’s sin offering ‘unauthorized fire’ to the Lord is not defined in the text. Some have suggested that these newly consecrated priests were eager to begin the more honorable portion of their duty, and so they proceeded to offer incense when they had not been commanded to do so. There may have been a special incense (Exodus 39:38) that was kept in the custody of Moses or Aaron, and Nadab and Abihu may have offered improper incense (Exodus 30:9). They may also have been drunk (see v. 9). Whatever their sinful action may have been, the punishment for it was swift and complete; another fire came forth from God and consumed them. There is a similar instance in the New Testament where Ananias and Sapphira died immediately after lying to God, and it had a beneficial, sobering effect upon all who heard about it (Acts 5:1-11).” ESV Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible Notes