BEWARE OF STRANGE FIRE IN WORSHIP
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” (Leviticus 10:1-2 KJV).
The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, were chosen among the children of Israel to draw near to God and minister at His altar. Their responsibility was to burn incense before the LORD, but not haphazardly or impulsively. They were given clear divine instructions to follow in discharging their duties and in ministering to God.
One of the instructions given to Nadab and Abihu as God’s priests was that they must not offer strange fire before the LORD. The fire to use for burning incense must be taken from the altar. This fire came down from heaven, and the priests were commanded to keep the fire burning perpetually on the altar (Lev. 6:8-9, 9:24).
But in total contempt and disregard for God and His instructions, Nadab and Abihu brought before God strange or profane fire (fire not taken from God’s altar), and so the fire went out from God and devoured them.
Leviticus 10:1-3 – NKJV
1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.
2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.'” So Aaron held his peace.
What a lesson for us today!
God was drawing our attention to the danger of worshipping or serving Him with strange or profane fire—the fire that does not come from God.
1 Corinthians 10:11 – NKJV
11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Hebrews 12:28-29 – NKJV
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
29 For our God is a consuming fire.
On the Day of Pentecost, while the early 120 disciples of Jesus were all together with one accord in the upper room, God sent His fire from heaven upon them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:1-4 – NKJV
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Having been filled with the Holy Spirit, the early apostles of Christ went everywhere preaching the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ with the divine passion, love, zeal, strength, and power imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. This is the holy fire from God!
The worship and service of the early apostles and disciples of Jesus were not motivated by fear of punishment from the Lord or lust for fame, riches, power, or authority, but rather by pure love and passion for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Apostle Paul testifies to this truth in his epistle to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 5:13-14 – NKJV
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.
Unlike many ministers of God today, the service or ministry of the early apostles of Jesus was purely an expression of their love and gratitude to the Lord Jesus, who loved them deeply and died for their sins.
They were not in the ministry for fame, riches, or position. That was why they could rejoice in all their tribulations.
When they were arrested, imprisoned, beaten, threatened, and commanded never to speak in the name of Jesus, they left the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of Christ.
And daily in the temple and every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:40-42).
It is only those who are serving the Lord out of pure love for the Lord Jesus that can rejoice at the opportunity to suffer shame for the sake of Christ.
Being motivated by pure love for the Lord and the brethren, many of the disciples who were possessors of lands and houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34-35).
However, Ananias and Sapphira, being driven or motivated by lust for applause, approval, commendation, or recognition of men, also sold a piece of property and brought a part of the proceeds and laid it at the apostles’ feet, claiming it was the entire proceeds from the land that was sold. God did not spare them; they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-10).
What a warning to us today!
Beloved, it is dangerous, suicidal, or self-destructive to worship God with strange fire in your soul—with passion, inordinate desire, or lust for fame, applause, approval, commendation, or recognition of men.
Many ministers of God today are spiritually dead even though they are still physically active in their ministries because they have allowed strange fire in their souls to consume and devour them.
Friend, God can see beyond your good actions and religious works into your hidden passions and motives for doing them.
God said, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:10 NKJV).
The Lord desires and expects believers to worship and serve Him out of pure love for Him, not out of lust for riches, position, fame, or applause of men, and also to serve Him in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of the flesh.
That is why the Lord Jesus has sent forth His Spirit to indwell us, to pour out His love into our hearts, and to empower us to be effective witnesses for Him in the world (John 14:16, Rom. 5:5, Acts 1:8).
Beloved, choose to serve God today only with His holy fire, that is, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending me the Holy Spirit to indwell me and fill me with pure and divine love for You and divine power for Your service. Help me, Lord, to yield myself daily to the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.