Leviticus 10:1-7 & Numbers 9 – 11:3
God gave exact instructions to the people of Israel for how they were to worship him. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was chosen to be the high priest, and his sons were to serve with him. When Aaron would eventually die, they would replace him as high priest.
The congregation gathered at the Tabernacle for the ordination of these men. Moses anointed them with oil and made sacrifices to the Lord. He told Aaron and his sons that their ordination would last for seven days, and they were not to leave the Tabernacle until it was over.
Aaron’s oldest two sons were Nadab and Abihu. During this time of ordination, they decided on their own to burn incense before the Lord. But they put coals from a common fire into their censers.
As soon as they came into the presence of the Lord, fire blazed out and killed both men.
Everyone was shocked, but nothing could be said. Moses had some men take the bodies out of the camp. He told Aaron and his other sons that they had to continue with the ordination since they had already been anointed with oil before the Lord.
This meant that they couldn’t properly mourn their loss. So the rest of Israel mourned the death of the two men, while their father and brothers continued at the Tabernacle.
On the second anniversary of leaving Egypt, the people of Israel celebrated Passover. They were still at Mount Sinai.
A cloud hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and it looked like fire at night. God had told them that as long as the cloud hovered there, they were to stay where they were. But if the cloud lifted, they knew it was time to continue their travels.
One month later, after celebrating Passover, it was time for them to move toward the land of Canaan. As the people watched, the cloud lifted and they set out from the mountain of God. They traveled toward the place where they were to enter the land of Canaan.
Within a short time, the people started complaining openly about their hardships. This made the Lord angry and he sent a fire among them, especially around the edges of the camp. Many people died. So the others ran to Moses for help. He prayed for them and the fire stopped. They named that place “Burning.”