This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

 
Issue Features
  
View this issue online as it looks in print
Discovery Magazine 7/1/2000

Strange Fire

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

In the Old Testament, there is an unusual story about two young men who died while worshipping God. Nadab was the firstborn son of Aaron, the Israelites’ High Priest; Abihu was his younger brother. Leviticus 10 explains how these two men followed their own desires, rather than doing what God had commanded.

"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them. And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them and they died before Jehovah" (Leviticus 10:1-2).

This is a scary story, wouldn’t you say? Nadab and Abihu apparently must have done something really bad, because God caused fire to leap from the altar and consume them! Why did this happen? The key to understanding the story lies in the fact that they offered "strange fire" that God "had not commanded." What does the Bible mean when it speaks of "strange" fire? Perhaps we can understand this point better by looking at other passages in the Old Testament that discuss worship to God. There is a good example in Exodus 30:9 where God gave the Israelites specific instructions regarding the altar of incense. He warned them: "You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it."

God told the Israelites exactly what kind of incense they were to burn during their worship of Him (read Exodus 30:7-8). Anything else was "strange" incense that God had not authorized, and therefore violated God’s law. In Leviticus 16:12, we learn where Nadab and Abihu should have gotten the fire they used in their worship. "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord." Aaron’s two sons ignored Jehovah’s law and obtained the fire they used from somewhere else. This was a terrible sin that ultimately cost them their lives!

In referring to the Old Testament, the apostle Paul commented: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning," (Romans 15:4). From the account of Nadab and Abihu, we can learn a really important lesson regarding how God wants us to worship Him. That lesson is this: God expects us to obey Him—not just in how we worship, but in every aspect of our lives.

Does God want us to be sincere in what we do? Yes, indeed. But it is not enough to be just sincere. We also must do exactly what God has commanded, in exactly the way He has commanded that we do it. Nothing can take the place of simple obedience to God. Therefore, let us all try not only to worship and serve God, but also to worship and serve Him in a scriptural manner as He has commanded.



Copyright © 2000 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
U.S.A.
Phone (334) 272-8558

http://www.apologeticspress.org

Web Store

Always Be Ready

New! A Christian evidences book for teens. Equipping young people to deal with unbelief.

Featured Audio

Listen

Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio