Did Nadab and Abihu go to heaven (did Aaron’s sons go to heaven)?

I attended church last Sunday, and I was intrigued by the story of Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, who were priests to the people of Israel. They were responsible for keeping all the furnishings and instruments in the tabernacle and performing priestly duties such as offering sacrifices and incense to God on behalf of the Israelites. Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before the Lord and died. This triggered my curiosity, and I kept wondering, did Nadab and Abihu go to heaven?

It is not clear whether Nadab and Abihu went to heaven or not. The Bible does not mention their final destination after their fateful death. Bible scholars and theologians have varying opinions and points of view concerning this. 

I invite you to join me as I dig deeper into this subject to find out what the Bible says about Nadab and Abihu going to heaven, what happened to them, what strange fire they offered, and what Bible commentators say about this. Read on to find all this information.

Does the Bible say that Nadab and Abihu went to heaven?

The Bible does not state whether Nadab and Abihu went to heaven. When they died, Moses asked Mishael and Elzaphan, sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, to carry them outside the camp from the front of the sanctuary, Leviticus 10:4. This marks the end of their story, and there is no mention of their afterlife in the Bible.  

What happened to Nadab and Abihu in the Bible?

did Aaron’s sons go to heaven?
Nadab and Abihu in the Bible. Image source: Pixabay

Nadab and Abihu died while offering incense to God. God had chosen them to serve as priests to the people of Israel, and part of their duties was to offer incense to God. They faced death because they offered unauthorized fire, as recorded in Leviticus 10:1-2. 

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them, and added incense, and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the LordLeviticus 10:1-2

What strange fire did Nadab and Abihu offer?

The strange fire Nadab and Abihu offered is described as foreign, unauthorized, or profane in different bible versions. The exact nature of the ‘strange’ fire is not known. 

Bible scholars speculate that Nadab and Abihu were using self-made fire to burn incense rather than using fire from the altar as directed in Leviticus 16:12. Scholars also think that the strange fire could be because the two men failed to follow instructions and might have come to the tabernacle drunk not remembering what was right and wrong pertaining incense offering to the Lord.

Since Aaron’s sons sinned against God, does it mean they went to hell?

It is not clear if Aaron’s sons went to hell or not. The Bible does not give us information about what happened to them after death. There are different perspectives on the afterlives of Nadab and Abihu, informed by biblical texts. 

The first perspective is that Nadab and Abihu went to heaven. According to Romans 3:23-24, everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the gift of God’s grace, all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. 

This scripture implies that God’s grace makes every sinner right with God. There is a possibility that God saved Nadab and Abihu and took them to heaven despite their disobedience. 

The other point of view is that Nadab and Abihu did not go to heaven because they were disobedient and disrespectful to God. According to Leviticus 10:1-3, fire came from the presence of the Lord and consumed them. Their deaths resulted from violating God’s command by offering strange fire, and they were considered unrighteous in the eyes of God.

What do bible commentators believe was Nadab and Abihu’s eternal destination?

Did Nadab and Abihu go to heaven?
The eternal destination. Image source: Pixabay

Bible commentators are not sure about the final destination of Nadab and Abihu, but the most common school of thought is that they went to hell. The Enduring Word Bible commentary given by David Guzik suggests that Nadab and Abihu went to hell. David says the fire is a figure that searches for judgment and purification. He says the same fire that consumed sacrifices in approval is the same that consumed Nadab and Abihu in judgment.

Another bible commentary by Matthew Henry also suggests that Nadab and Abihu might have ended up in hell. Matthew says Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord in front of the veil that covered the mercy seat. He says Mercy itself could not let its glory be insulted and that those that sinned before the Lord faced their death before the Lord and were tormented in the presence of the Lamb, implying that the Lamb does not intervene on their behalf. 

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