This chapter is well known because it deals with the failings of Nadab and Abihu offering unauthorized fire before the Lord. There is much more present in the chapter, however.
There is a powerful and objective lesson learned by Moses, Aaron, and his sons (10:1-3). The deceased brothers were removed from the camp; Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar were not allowed to mourn for their fallen family members (just imagine how difficult that would be). This all took place within the seven day period specified by the Lord (10:4-7). In the only location (within Leviticus) where God speaks directly to Aaron (10:8-11), he is told a) no alcoholic beverages, b) make proper distinctions, c) you are God’s teacher to the nation. The offerings belong to Aaron and his children (10:12-15). It is of note that Jewish rabbis believe Moses “erred because he became angry” (Chumash, p. 596), and that he should have properly analyzed that Aaron did what was proper. In any case, what we have here is Moses’ anger and Aaron’s response to what was just accomplished (10:16-20).
Application: “God will forgive me; that his job.” This is the sentiment of a great many people on earth; a great many people who identify themselves as Christians. This approach to God has not served people very well at all through the years. Men and women may not do what the sons of Aaron were guilty of, but they are doing more of it than they realize. “The surviving priests, even though they were brothers, had to identify themselves entirely with God’s viewpoint…” (Wenham, p. 157). Because so many Christians (as they have identified themselves) have failed to do this, they also fail to notice that God is a just God, one who will not allow His will to be lightly regarded. Those who lightly esteem Him, will be lightly esteemed.