Strange Fire And The Priesthood

Leviticus 10:1 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.

All Christians Are Priests Before God

Once saved, a Christian has an eternal purpose. We are to do good works for our Savior and Father. The Bible, the whole Bible, was given to teach us how to live lives of purpose as believers. The Bible says:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

ALL Scripture – the entire Bible, is theopneustos, inspired by God, breathed by the Almighty. It is God’s breath of spiritual life to His people. Believers are to apply the Scriptures to their lives so they can do good for God. We read:

Ephesians 2:10 … we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are saved by calling on the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But once saved, we who are Christ’s enter God’s Kingdom as kings and priests unto God our Father, as the Scripture says:

Revelation 1:5-6 … Unto {Jesus} that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Leviticus is a great Book for all Priests to read. Certainly there are many things in the Book that do not apply to our lives today. There are, however, principles contained in the Book that every believer-priest should know.

Under the Old Covenant (Testament), the Priests were Levites. Now under the New Covenant (Testament) every believer in Jesus Christ is a priest,
and Jesus
Christ our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16)

When Christ died on the Cross the veil covering the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), signifying the end of the Old Covenant priesthood and the start of the New Covenant priesthood. Today “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). The Apostle addressed the New Covenant Priesthood in:

1 Peter 2:5-9 … ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in {Zion} a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious … 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light ..

As believer-priests our lives are to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1-2) unto our Creator and Lord. We live to please our God.

Titus 2:11-14 … For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; 14 who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Priests Are To Do God’s Work God’s Way

The Priest is a Priest by the Grace of God. We do not earn nor do we deserve such a great honor. God commands that His Priests (that’s you and I, Christian) live in the way that is pleasing to Him. Let’s explore our text:

Leviticus 10:1-3 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. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.

When we read what God did to Nadab and Abihu, our first reaction may perhaps be that our God was a little unreasonable. They offered “strange fire before the Lord” and immediately “the fire of the Lord devoured them”. Why such a harsh sentence? The Bible tells us that Nadab and Abihu were born to Aaron, Moses’ brother.

Exodus 6:23 … Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Nadab and Abihu were the two eldest of four sons of Aaron, the man that God would soon call to be High Priest over Israel.

Word Study Nadab’s name {נָדָב Nâdâb, pronounced naw-dawb’} means “a free or generous gift”. Abihu’s name {אֲבִיהוּא ʼĂbîyhûwʼ, pronounced ab-ee-hoo’} means “He (God) Is My Father”. These men were born and raised up by Godly parents who named them wonderful, hopeful names. Like all Israelites Nadab and Abihu were born into chattel slavery, and suffered that harsh way of life with all the Israelis. Nadab and Abihu experienced the overwhelming Grace of God as young men.

  • Nadab and Abihu saw God bring ten plagues on Egypt, and lived through the night that the death angel passed over every home covered with the Blood of the Lamb (Exodus 12:23).
  • Nadab and Abihu Saw God lead Israel by pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22). Oh, what a joy that must have been!

  • Nadab and Abihu saw God part the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13), and walked between the towering waves as if on dry land. They also saw the mighty Egyptian Army destroyed by water, as our MIGHTIER God rendered judgment on those unbelievers.
  • When Israel bivouacked at Mount Sinai, Nadab and Abihu saw God and LIVED! The Scripture says …

Exodus 24:1, 9-11 {God} said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. … 9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: 10 and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

I believe that Nadab and Abihu got to see the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, the manifest Member of the Godhead. God told Moses “you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). God the Son took a human form, and actually ate and drank with them. Oh, how Jesus loves His people. He calls to us with a sweet whisper …

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Nadab and Abihu were called, along with their father Aaron, to be Priests unto God. God gave them the Book of Leviticus to teach them how to fulfill their office. God never judges harshly. He is Love, and tolerates our failures on a daily basis. But God expects us to do what He says, because what He says is so very important. Jesus said:

Luke 12:48 … For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required …

The Actions Of The Old Covenant Priests Foretold The Coming Of The New Covenant Christ

When God established the Tabernacle along with the Old Covenant Priesthood, He required that His people perform animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering for sin. These sacrifices foreshadowed or looked forward to the coming of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, Who taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Animal sacrifice was important, because God wanted everyone to know that sin is not a trifle. Our God is holy, righteous, and just. Our God cannot even LOOK on sin (Habakkuk 1:13) without being compelled by His holiness to punish it. Sin is an affront to our Holy God. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

Sin demands death! Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Hence the Brazen Altar and it’s perpetual flame.

As God instituted the Old Covenant Priesthood, He directed them on the “Brazen Altar”:

Leviticus 6:8-9, 12-13 … the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 9 Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it. … 12 And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. 13 The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.

The fire of the brazen altar was never to go out. Why? Because when sin is atoned for (by the burnt offering) God can be present with His people. Fire, or Light represents God. It is God Who created Light (Genesis 1:3). When God presented Himself to Moses, He was a flame in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). When God led Israel from Egypt, at night He led as a Pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21-22).

The Priests were to keep this fire burning day and night. When the Tabernacle moved, the fire was carried with it. This fire was special because God Himself started it. We read:

Leviticus 9:23-24 … the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. 24 And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

The fire in the brazen altar represented the Presence and Judgment of the Lord. The Scripture says,

Deuteronomy 4:24 & Hebrews 12:29 … {our} God is a consuming fire …

That Brazen Altar was a type or a foreshadowing of our Lord Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. The animal without blemish was slain, and the fire {God’s judgment} of God consumed it. When Jesus Christ Himself comes from glory to this earth, He goes to the Cross making the shadow {the Brazen Altar} obsolete. When Jesus cried out “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He was saying that the Old Covenant is passed and the New Covenant has come. Praise God, we no longer need to sacrifice animals for sin today, because

2 Corinthians 5:21 … God made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The Old Covenant Priests were to keep the Brazen Altar burning. There was another Altar, however, called the Altar of Incense. This altar stood before the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy place.

The Altar of Incense represented the prayers
believing people going up to God.

God cannot hear your prayers (Isaiah 59:2). But once sins are paid for (the Brazen Altar), then prayers can go up to God (Altar of Incense). God told the Priests:

Exodus 30:7-8 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. 8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

The incense burned was the prayers of the people for whom God would give His life. These prayers “were set before God like incense” (Psalm 141:2).

The fire that lit the Altar of Incense was ALWAYS
taken from the coals of the
Brazen Altar.

Leviticus 16:11-13 … Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, … 12 and he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil: 13 and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

Why was this order important? Because God wanted His Priests, both Old Covenant and New Covenant, to know that sin MUST be atoned for if our prayers are to be heard. We cannot pay for our sins, our offenses against the immortal God. It takes the Blood of sacrifice, the death of the innocent. Under the Old Covenant this was the blood of an animal that was without spot or blemish. Under the New Covenant, this is the Blood of Jesus Christ, Who died for us.

Nadab And Abihu Took STRANGE Fire
To The Altar Of Incense

Leviticus 10:1-2 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. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.

Word Study What is “Strange Fire”? The late Dr. R.C. Sproul notes, “What is ‘unauthorized fire’, or, as it is rendered in other translations, ‘profane fire’ or ‘strange fire’? … the word profane comes from the Latin profanus, which literally means ‘outside the Temple’.”

As we have seen, Nadab and Abihu were supposed to take coals from the Brazen Altar, and these coals (representing the cleansing of Christ’s Calvary) gave them access to God. Instead, they took STRANGE fire to light the incense. They took fire from without the Tabernacle, man made fire, not God given fire.

You may say, “Well, what’s the difference? Fire is fire, and any old fire can light the Altar of Incense.” Here’s the difference. There’s a little phrase that comes right after the strange fire is mentioned. The little phrase is:

which he {God} commanded them not

When the Lamb without spot or blemish was slain, and burned on the Brazen Altar, the fire (representing the Judgment of God on sin) devoured the sacrifice and not the people. When coals from the Brazen Altar were used to light the Altar of Incense, God heard the prayers of His people. But when the Priests skipped the Brazen Altar and went straight to the Altar of Incense, they were standing before God, unholy in His sight. God explained their sin quite simply:

Leviticus 10:3 I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.

God blesses His Priests when they set Him apart and treat Him with respect. We live in a day where people have little respect for the Lord. Many of Christ’s Priests (that’s you, Christian) are living their lives based on feelings and not on what God has said. When anyone tries to approach God, the Holy God, the wonderful God Who saves us based on our own merit, then we will not be blessed.

In America today we are too flippant as Christians in serving our God. We need to heed the Scripture. We need to approach our Heavenly Father through the Brazen Altar, through the Blood of Jesus Christ. This is what will bless! This is what will put wings on our prayers.

Once you understand the relationship of the Brazen Altar to the Altar of Incense, then you live your lives ever thankful for what Jesus Christ did for us. I have often read a passage in Isaiah, never quite understanding it until today. The text is found in:

Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

This is a beautiful picture of Heaven that Isaiah was allowed to see. Was he overjoyed? No, he was frightened nearly to death. Isaiah cried out:

Isaiah 6:5-8 … Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

When Isaiah saw our God, and compared himself to the absolute holiness of our God, he cried out in fear and repentance. Then notice an angel took a coal from the altar. This is what the Brazen Altar represents, what is fulfilled in Calvary. The angel touched Isaiah’s lips with this coal, symbolic of the Altar of Incense. Your sins, being paid for, now give you access to God. You now can approach Him in prayer and fellowship. But you must have the coal on the lips. You must have God’s coal on the Altar!

God’s Church, and God’s New Covenant Priesthood, must approach the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. It is because of Jesus that we have access to God. The coals of Christ’s death cover our sins, and make us clean before God. As the Apostle said:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For {God the Father} hath made {Jesus} to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in {Jesus}.

The Churches that are dying today are composed of believer-priests who are offering strange fire to God. They are bypassing Calvary, and going straight to God in the Holy of Holies. The message God gives us all is:

Leviticus 10:3 … I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified….

We entered salvation and Christ’s Kingdom by repentance and turning to Jesus Christ. We live our daily lives, in God’s Presence, the exact same way. We honor His Word over “feelings” and above “peer pressure”. Our God is an awesome God, and His people will obey Him if they wish to be blessed.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and through His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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