“Then Moshe carefully investigated what had happened to the goat of the sin offering and discovered that it had been burned up. He became angry with El‘azar and Itamar, the remaining sons of Aharon, and asked, ‘Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the area of the sanctuary, since it is especially holy? He gave it to you to take away the guilt of the community, to make atonement for them before Adonai.'”-Leviticus 10:16-17
The Lord’s grace is on display from verse 12.
Here we have Moses going over a checklist of the procedures the priests need to adhere to when officiating.
A wise thing to do considering what had just happened to Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu.
Moses makes sure the newly consecrated priests understand that the unleavened dough from the MINCHAH (Grain Offering) is eaten by the priests “beside the altar” INSIDE the courtyard of the Tabernacle.
The reason I say the Lord’s Grace is on display here is because we can see that the tragic incident involving Nadav and Avihu didn’t change anything.
The show will still go on so to speak.
The rituals and their atoning purposes will remain the same.
Aaron and his remaining sons will still be the Lord’s priests.
In spite of the disaster that has just occurred, their holy office will not been taken away from them.
However, verses 16 and onwards present us with an interesting conundrum.
When Moses hears what happened with the Purification Offering, he explodes in anger.
Apparently, Aaron’s remaining two sons Eleazar and Ithamar had not eaten the meat from the HATTA-AT Offering (Purification Offering) in a proper manner.
They were supposed to eat it inside the confines of the courtyard but instead disregarded God’s command and ate it in a different location.
Although this action wasn’t as serious as what Nadav and Avihu did, it was still a violation against the Lord’s specific command involving his Holy Property.
So why weren’t Eleazar and Ithamar destroyed?
My answer: I’m not sure.
And believe me, my logical mind hates not knowing the answers.
Maybe it was the Lord showing compassion because He knew that Eleazar and Ithamar were still in a state of shock from what had just happened to Nadav and Avihu.
Maybe there is some unseen boundary line in the heavens that when crossed the Lord’s heavy hand of judgment will fall but other times the Lord will show grace.
The only answer I can possibly think of is God’s Words from Exodus Chapter 33.
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Who are we to question the sovereign Lord’s decisions on such matters?
I’m pretty confident in my answer to that question.
NOBODY is the answer.