“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
Nadab and Abihu were two of the son’s of Aaron. Aaron was a priest of
In this ceremonial law animals would be sacrificed and then burned in a ceremonial fire. In this way mankind’s sins were being symbolically cleansed by the fire. The fire used was supplied by GOD himself.
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. Leviticus 9:24
Upon the alter GOD would manifest a fire that would burn up the offering and the fat. Symbolically this showed the power of GOD, which was the fire, destroying the sin of mankind. It was only the fire from GOD which had the power to do this.
Nadab and Abihu, for some reason the bible does not fully explain, one day decided that they themselves would supply the fire to burn the sacrifice. Whatever reason they had for doing this is not as important as the lesson learned from what happened to them when they tried to mix their fire with GOD’s fire.
And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:2
GOD destroyed them both immediately. This seems to be an extremely harsh punishment for what the two men were trying to do. But the bible clearly shows that GOD had commanded them not to do this.
…and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
What GOD was teaching us was that HE alone had the power to remove sin from the world and also that he expected us to show worship and obedience in the way HE proclaimed. We are not allowed to make up our own rules or edit GOD’s rules when it comes to obedience, worship and our love for GOD.
The problem is this. When GOD lets man decide for himself how he will show love and devotion we tend to stray far off course. Early in our history men decided that to show love and devotion for GOD or whatever they perceived as “god” they would make human sacrifices, even to the extreme of sacrificing their own children in fire. As mankind progressed through the dark ages the church itself even taught you could purchase your way into heaven through tithes, offerings or giving up property to the church. Without a direct definition from GOD as to what we are to offer HIM to show our love mankind is quickly misled into offering up just about anything as proof of our “love” for GOD. This practice can have some devastating impacts on the lives of others and this is something GOD does not want for us. So HE provides us with direct definitions of what he expects us to do to show our love for HIM.
What we need to understand is that showing love is dependant on how the person we are showing that love too understands love. Let’s take a wife for example who feels loved whenever her husband shows her affection. She feels fulfilled and loved whenever her husband hugs or kisses her or spends time with her. But for example let’s say that her husband feels like he is showing his wife love whenever he buys her something. So instead of showing her the affection she feels she needs to feel loved, he often buys her gifts instead and shows her very little affection.
Over time how loved will this wife feel if she never experiences love in the way she sees love? It’s obvious that in time she will not feel much loved at all.
In this same way GOD is expecting us to show HIM our love in a very definite way. He doesn’t expect us to “bring our own fire” but instead to trust HIM and to worship in the way he expects of us.
When Jesus is teaching us to “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Mathew 22:37), he is telling us also to obey GOD. He wants us to learn to show our love for GOD in the way GOD has asked us to show it.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 1 John 2: 3-5
Not only are we expected to show love for GOD by keeping HIS commandments, but also it is how we show love for one another.
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” 1 John 5:2
The example of Aaron’s son’s and the strange fire shows us that we are not allowed to define what GOD expects of us if we truly love GOD. Their destruction seemed harsh, but the lesson that needed to be taught was an important one. Without a thorough definition of love and obedience mankind would always suffer. When some one claims to “love” GOD or his fellow man but then turns and sins against another by breaking the commandments of GOD they cause great suffering and even death to the other members of mankind. Harsh consequences required harsh punishment. When Nadab and Abihu decided to bring their own fire to show their worship for GOD, they were not showing love for GOD or their fellow man as they had no authority to cleans the sins of mankind or be the supreme moral authority mankind needs to ensure peace in creation. Had GOD let them proceed with using their own fire HE would have been opening the door for all mankind to decide to worship however they see fit, which would have included all manner of suffering and deception as past history has shown.
The only true way to show love for GOD and Jesus is the obey GOD’s Ten Commandments. It is very important to always be taking stock of our lives and making sure that we are growing and maturing not only has human beings, but also as Christians. We should always be striving to move closer to the full obedience of GOD’s Law to show love for HIM and our fellow man.
A promise of love based on disobedience is really a promise of nothing. Love without a promise to always be looking out for the well being of our fellow man is just simply a meaningless word, based on a concept of “good” that has no real substance or meaning. What is “good” becomes based on the individual instead of GOD, and every person can have their own idea of what “good” means. But only under GOD alone does good mean that eventually all mankind will be free from stress, worry, and sickness and that no one will ever die, be killed, lied too or cheated on again for all eternity when the new heaven and earth are established. That is why showing the love of GOD through obedience to HIS commandments is so eternally important. It is love based on a solid, tangible and real promise that can be experienced and depended upon forever, as opposed to just a word thrown casually around as the word “love” is so often used by Christians in worship today.
It is the only way to ensure eternal peace for all mankind. We will all have free will forever, and it will be those that show they have decided to use that free will to uphold GOD’s commandments that shows GOD who has a heart like HIS own and who will support peace for eternity instead of their own desires.
We should not bring our own fire to GOD. Bring our love supported by obedience to HIS commandments as HE has asked us to do.
ken elliott – August 2010