There are a number of ways that God indicates His acceptance. In Leviticus 9, fire comes out from before the Lord and consumes the first offering in front of the Tabernacle. God approves of the presentation, and His fire consumes it. People made an offering to God, and God seals the deal with approving fire. There are many other sacrifices after this that do not get the same treatment, but this sets the pattern of acceptance. So as long as the others are done the same way they are also acceptable.
There are at least five times mentioned in the Word where fire from the Lord consumes a sacrifice. The other four are in Judges 6 (Gideon), 1 Kings 18 (Elijah and the prophets of Baal) 1 Chronicles 21 (David’s sacrifice) and 2 Chronicles 7 (Solomon’s sacrifice). These examples illustrate for us what happens when God approves. When God disapproves, fire destroys the person rather than the offering.
Fire from God can show acceptance, or rejection, and it doesn’t have to be in connection with an animal sacrifice. When fire rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, it was a rather obvious rejection of their behavior. Moses calls down fire on the Egyptians (Exodus 9). Fire from heaven also destroyed two captains of fifty and their men when trying to arrest Elijah (2 Kings 1). Fire pours from the mouth of God’s two prophets or witnesses of Revelation 11 if anyone tries to harm them. The second beast of Revelation 13 fakes a fire that looks like it comes from heaven, but it’s not from God. Not like the final fireworks that fall on the armies of Satan in Revelation 20.
If Nadab and Abihu had stayed within the Law, depending on God’s grace and doing exactly what He said when He said it, then there would’ve been no reason for the fire from God to consume them. Grace, in the Law, would’ve saved them. Just like it saved all the other priests who followed the rules. The grace was in telling them how to approach and be acceptable. Love, in following what God said, is the other way to look at, and observe, the Law.
Nadab and Abihu get toasted right after the accepted sacrifice of Leviticus 9. It was not only that they did the process wrong, it was also their hearts. They were willfully doing something they knew to be wrong. This is called a high-handed sin. When you’ve been told, warned, cautioned, and seen others punished for wrongdoing, and you do it too, there is no excuse. The sons of Aaron stepped out of God’s boundaries and tried to demand acceptance based on their own actions. Paul calls this “works of the Law” in Galatians.
From Berea at Whole Bible dot com – Manna, 26 Shemini