…And they did according to the word of Moses. (Lev. 10:7)
In Leviticus 8, nearly every paragraph ends with “as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Lev. 8:9, 13, 17, 21, 29, 36).
Then in Leviticus 9, you see the results of such careful obedience. The glory of the Lord is so manifest to the people that it literally knocks them off their feet (Leviticus 9:24).
But in Leviticus 10, there’s a switch. You don’t see “as the Lord commanded Moses” anymore. Instead, you have, “as Moses had said” (10:5); “according to the word of Moses” (10:7); and “when Moses heard that, he approved.” (v. 20).
And you have this confusing passage where Moses gets angry at Aaron because Aaron didn’t eat the sacrifice in the holy place (verses 16-20). You have Moses saying “You certainly ought to have eaten it in the sanctuary as I commanded.” (Leviticus 10:19). Is Moses afraid Aaron’s remaining two sons will also be killed because they weren’t following God’s command? Was there a command from God here, or was it a command from Moses?
It is confusing. There isn’t the clarity you had in chapter 9. There seems to be fear and indecision. Uncertainty about the right thing to do.
What happened in between? Well, Nadab and Abihu decided to free lance. They offered a sacrifice that was NOT “as the Lord commanded Moses” (See Leviticus 10: 1-4
There’s a pattern in Scripture: When we step out on our own, God often steps back. Where Leviticus 9 shows the clarity that comes from obedience, Leviticus 10 shows the confusion that comes from rebellion.
After sin corrupts the picture, it’s a lot harder to get the clear word from God. It’s not that God turns away from us (thank you for that reminder yesterday, Tara-Leigh), it’s that our sin is so loud it’s harder to hear His voice. And Moses is left to do the best he can based on the last clear word he heard from God.
There’s still a lot of Leviticus left to go, and I am thankful that it didn’t take long for God to start speaking again (the first words of chapter 11: “And the Lord spoke to Moses”—whew!) But Leviticus 10 reminds us that there are consequences to coming before the Lord with strange fire. When we choose to do things our own way, tragically, God lets us.