“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on them and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.” – Leviticus 10:1-2
Nadab and Abihu decided they were going to do the Lord’s work. After all, they were of the line of Aaron and the priesthood. They were going to elevate themselves and jump ahead to serve God. However, God did not tell these boys they could serve as leading priests in the temple. They were to be assistants. They were to serve under Levi and under Moses because that’s what God’s word said. But, they rejected the scriptures and bent them to accommodate themselves. They thought the people would be impressed with them performing this sacred and prestigious role in the Lord’s temple.
So, their offering was “strange fire.” They came to perform the ordinance and sent up the incense in violation of God’s word. And as the smoke rose up, God said it was “strange fire.” The word “strange” here is the word for adultery. They were taking advantage of something for their own gain of which they did not have rightful ownership. It was not Nadab and Abihu’s role. It was not their place. It was not their ordinance. It was God’s. They were violating God’s proper means and exercise of the ordinance.
We have to be careful in the church of God that we do not add to God’s means and think that God is going to bless it. We must not reject what the Word says to exalt ourselves. We must not tamper or toy with the Word of God or have a lack of humility toward the Word of God.
One primary example of “strange fire” in the church is in the shallow and unsound preaching of the Gospel. You see, when the Spirit reveals Christ – whether it’s during the pastor’s preaching, in your own bible study, in your small group class – He always, in balance to revealing Christ, reveals your sin as well. If you resist the truth about your defilement, your depravity, your offensiveness, and your worthiness of holy divine wrath, then you also lose the Spirit’s ministry to reveal Christ. Both are revealed at the same time.
So, beware of the groups who preach Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but soft-pedal on the wicked depravity of man. That message is “strange fire.” The Spirit of God always exalts Christ AND humbles man. Be careful when you see a supposed high view of Christ, but they also want to put man up there with Jesus a little bit. To hear some preachers, it’s as if Jesus is our lead therapist to help us to a better life. No, He’s not your lead therapist. He is God’s only escape from the wrath of a holy God.