Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Strange Fire that Offended God

SERMON            GMT14-015

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        The Strange Fire That Offended God

SCRIPTURE:     Leviticus 10:1-3

SUBJ:                  God protects His glory

SUMMARY:       God will not allow anything to detract from His glory

SCHEME:           That the members of NKBC would resist worshipping God by the means of the flesh

1A     The Problem Deduced  (1a-c)

          1B     The problem is deduced by the actors present
          2B     The problem is deduced by the actions preformed

2A     The Premise Depicted   (1d)

          1B     The premise is depicted by the pattern for ministry
          2B     The premise is depicted by the problem with ministry

3A     The Penalty Determined (2)

          1B     The penalty was determined by God
          2B     The penalty was determined by Guilt

4A     The Purpose Demonstrated   (3)

          1B     The purpose was demonstrated by God’s sentence
          2B     The purpose was demonstrated by Aaron’s silence

The Strange Fire That Offended God
Leviticus 10:1-3


A.   Holiness

Joel Beeke wrote...

I once read of a missionary who had in his garden a shrub that bore poisonous leaves. At that time he had a child who was prone to put anything within reach into his mouth. Naturally he dug the shrub out and threw it away. The shrub’s roots, however, were very deep. Soon the shrub sprouted again. Repeatedly the missionary had to dig it out. There was no solution but to inspect the ground every day, and to dig up the shrub every time it surfaced. Indwelling sin is like that shrub. It needs constant uprooting. Our hearts need continual mortification

B.   Why holiness is important to you

Without God the only standard of TRUST - of right and wrong - is what appeals to you. And that's a shifting standard. It all depends on what I want, what I like, what I accept, what pleases me.

C.  Relating the text to the congregation

The casual reader of Leviticus might just skim through this passage and might even leave with a sigh of relief and gratitude that they are done with it. But God is mercifully showing His people how to avoid and how to be cleansed from various kinds of uncleanness.

Since these ideas are foreign to our ways of thinking and they are longer valid or practices in the New Testament age, we run the risk of ignoring the lessons that are in this passage. We should not miss why God thought it was important to give them to His people and how that they are fulfilled in Christ.
The foundational principle for the entire life of Israel is found in Leviticus 11:44-47:
“For I am the Lord, therefore you shall sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy for I am holy.”
Nothing has changed, not even today. This command was repeated to the church by the apostle Peter.
Leviticus may seem foreign and unnatural because we have lost that ancient sense of the holiness of God and His ever presence in every aspect of our lives. There is a stark contrast between the early church and contemporary Christianity. I exhort you to recover the idea of absolute holiness and the fact that it really is God’s way or the highway.
So, I exhort you to wrestle with the concepts of holiness, sacredness and exact instructions for behavior along with the ideas of grace, mercy, and the longsuffering of God.
Here in Leviticus 10 we have an unusual event to help us understand holiness from God’s standpoint or viewpoint.
OUR THEME TODAY IS:  God protects His glory
This is a good reminder for us all that God is a zealous and jealous God when it comes to his glory, and He will not share His glory with anyone. 
Proposition:  God will protect His glory
Interrogative Sentence:  How far will God go to protect His glory?
Transitional Sentence:  Today’s passage suggests four (4) principles that shows that God protects His glory.

[Let’s begin with the first principle suggested by this passage…]

1A     The Problem Deduced (VS. 1a-c)
To begin making deductions about the problem at hand we first have to see that…
1B     …the problem is deduced from the actors present

          “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron…”

Before we can really appreciate this passage we need to learn a little about these two sons of Aaron.        

These boys were actually very favored individuals. They were really the last two people likely to be executed so suddenly and without any opportunity to repent of their sin.

1C     First of all, they were the sons of Aaron who was the High Priest of Israel. Aaron had quite an exalted role and responsibility. Aaron had been selected and appointed by God.

          Aaron was responsible for the spiritual welfare of the nation of Israel as he directed the worship of God. Aaron had direct access to God.

2C     Second, these boys were the nephew of Moses. Moses was the supreme leader under God of the entire nation of Israel. He was their uncle. They had direct access to Moses.

3C     Third, these boys were direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The came from a very distinct line. It was almost as if they had come from a “royal bloodline.”

4C     Fourth, these two boys enjoyed a high and exalted position among the people of Israel. Listen to Exodus 24:9-11:

          “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:9-11, ESV)

·        These boys saw God – we don’t know in what form God appeared to them, but God appeared to them and they didn’t die

·        Verse 1 of chapter 24, God asked for them by name:

“The he [God] said to Moses, ‘come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu…”

Very few people can claim these kind of blessings. Nadab and Abihu were privileged above a lot of other men.

You would think that these men would be very holy, very devout, and very committed to God. But, we can see by their attitude and actions that they were part of this problem.

[So, we see the actors in this event. Now let’s look and see how…]

2B     The problem is deduced from the actions performed

                   “…each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it…”

                   Why would they perform these actions? What caused them to do this?

                   1C     were they impatient and just couldn’t wait to burn incense?

After all they would have been proud of the honor that they had been given as newly consecrated priests. They might have wanted to serve God and do their work of burning incense immediately.

2C     Were they upset that they could not go into the Tabernacle with Aaron and Moses?

Did they want a more prominent part? Were they jealous of their father and uncle? Do they feel left out? Maybe even disrespected?

3C     Were they just cocky, young, with no regard for protocol?

          Sometimes younger people think the ceremony of the older people is just that, ceremony. They don’t respect it and want to cast it aside for their new and fresh ideas.

4C     Were they drunk? Some scholars think that they were drunk because of the instructions given in verses 8-11.

We really don’t know why they performed the actions that they did. Regardless of why, we know that they were disobedient. Their actions were expressly forbidden by God. God had made it clear that only Aaron, the High Priest, could come into the Holy of Holies and that was once a year and on the pain of death.

It is clear and easy to deduce a problem. We can see this problem by both the actors and the actions of those present.

OUR THEME TODAY IS:  God protects His glory
This is a good reminder for us all that God is a zealous and jealous God when it comes to his glory, and He will not share His glory with anyone.
Proposition:  God will protect His glory

[The second principle suggested by this passage is seen in …] 

2A     The Premise Depicted   (1d)

“…and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD...”

          1B     The premise is depicted by the pattern given for ministry

God has given an exact, precise, and absolute pattern for the burning of incense. He gave that pattern to Moses. This pattern is the acceptable worship of Him. There is only one pattern to follow.

We cannot worship God anyway that we want. Mind you we have great freedoms in our songs, prayers, even in our posture for worship. We can stand, or sit, or lay flat on our face. We can kneel, we can raise our hands. We can shout, sing, recite, or remain absolutely silent.
But we can’t change elements of worship such as reverence, awe, respect, or holiness and expect God to accept our behavior as worship.

1C     Exodus 30:7-9

“And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations, You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year, with the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations, it is most holy to the LORD.”

                   2C     Leviticus 16:11-13

“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meetings. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and us it as a sin offering but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away in into the wilderness to Azazel.”

Did you hear the language? Aaron shall, then, and… Specific instructions or a very detailed pattern to be followed. We are not to improvise or change or even try to improve God’s instructions for worship and for the maintenance of a life of worship and holiness.

[The premise or the purpose of God is clearly seen in the pattern he gave. Worship is to be holy. We are not offer unauthorized or unholy worship. Secondly, we see the premise of God by seeing that…]

          2B     The premise is depicted by the problem with ministry

          “…which he had not commanded them.”
          [What did Nadab and Abihu do wrong?]
          1C     First of all – their motive was wrong. It was not guided by God.
We really don’t know what motivated these guys. Again, it could have been pride, excitement, joy, foolishness, cockiness, or even ignorance.
What we do know is not matter what their motive was it was wrong because it was not in sync with God’s motive.
They did not consider God as set apart and as different. They didn’t think of him as worthy of the honor that he demanded.
·        It is never right to do wrong even for good
·        It is not right to do the wrong thing for the right reason
·        The ends do not justify the means
For some reason they were motivated by their own desire or design. 
                   2C     Second, their method was wrong.
Look carefully, “…each took his censor…and offered profane or strange fire before the LORD…”
Here is part of the problem:  Only one priest at a time was to burn incense. It was to be burned in the morning and in the evening. They both loaded up their sensor and rushed into the tabernacle together.
God had given some pretty strict directions concerning for the method of burning incense. For example:
·        God gave a specific recipe to Moses
o   Sweet spices
o   Stacte – gum from a storax tree – sweet syrup
o   Onycha – lid of a shell mollusk, burned – perfume
o   Galbanum – another gum from a plant
o   Pure frankincense – fragrant gum of a tree
o   Salt
The children of Israel could not use this recipe for themselves

                                      Incense could only be offered by a descendant of Aaron

Only fire from the altar of the whole burnt offering could be used

It was to be burned each morning when Aaron took care of the lamps and each evening

It was to be burned in the Holy of Holies once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement

Any violation of these instructions was punishable by death

What was God doing by giving all these specific instructions? God was teaching His people perfect obedience. He was teaching them to do things according to His will and not their will. Breaking these rules was a very serious action.
Well, we see the problem don’t we? Their motive and their method was wrong.

                   3C     Thirdly, their material was wrong

“…each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire…”   

I think the NKJV was trying to do us a favor here by rethinking the Hebrew word and its meaning. I think however the translators did us a disservice. They should have left the word alone and translated it as strange not profane.

The idea portrayed is that the fire was common fire. It was not part of the sacred fire. IOW, the fire the boys used was not from the altar which had been lit or started by God. The word strange is used several times in the Hebrew text.

Here in our passage it really does mean strange. By that it means strange to the law, not known by the law, not known to the law of God.

God did not command them to take fire that they had made or started from the campfire or a fire started outside the camp. God had told Moses and Aaron to keep the fire going at all times on the altar and it was from that fire that was used to burn the incense.

“A fire shall always be burning on the altar, it shall never go out.” (Leviticus 6:8-13, ESV)

So, even something so wonderful and even God honoring can be problematic. These boys of Aaron had attempted ministry with the wrong motive, with the wrong method, and with the wrong material. Finally we see…

                   4C     Fourth, their manner was wrong

Again, we have to ask the question, why did they do this? Shouldn’t they have known better? They were not novices and they were not ignorant of God’s will or instructions.
They knew who could enter the holy of holies and when entrance was to be made. They knew the source of the coals or the fire. This was common knowledge to them, so why did they do it?

Well, if the context has anything to say to us about why, it might say or suggest that these boys were under the influence of wine. Or perhaps they were drunk. You might say they were BIUI, burning incense under the influence.

We skip ahead but verses 4 and 5 give instructions to remove their bodies. I know were stuck in verse one and we have killed them yet by reaching verse 2. God gives the following instruction to Aaron:

“…do not drink wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die.
Why were they prohibited from drinking wine or even having a strong drink before they went on duty and performed their priestly duties? “…You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean…”

This seems to be a somber warning to Aaron and his other sons. Drinking wine or strong drink was not prohibited by God, it was only restricted or prohibited if you were going on duty and serving as a priest.

It seems Nadab and Abihu failed to distinguish between what was holy and what was profane, between what was clean and unclean. They knew the difference. On this occasion they failed to make the distinction. Why? May be they were drunk and their senses were dulled and their judgment was impaired.

For the record, Paul gives some similar instructions to the elders or pastors who rule in the church. Elders and Deacons do not have to be men who never drink wine or a strong drink, but they cannot be addicted to wine or to alcoholic beverages. They were forbidden to drink wine, but they could not be a slave to it, or to be under its power. Aaron and his sons were banned or prohibited from wine or strong drink. They were told not to drink it or be under its influence when on duty as priests of God.

OUR THEME TODAY IS:  God protects His glory

This is a good reminder for us all that God is a zealous and jealous God when it comes to his glory, and He will not share His glory with anyone.
God will protect His glory!
We have seen this in the problem that we deduced and in the premise that was depicted. 
[We now move to…]
3A     The Penalty Determined (2)

          1B     The penalty was determined by God

                   “And fire came out from before the LORD…”

It appears that they tried to enter the holy of holies. You ask why you think that.

1C     First – where is the presence of the LORD?         The presence of the LORD is in the holy of holies. At least it was at this time.

2C     Leviticus 16: 1-2 says, “the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died, and the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the view, before the mercy seat that is on the ark so that he may not die.”

          I think it is safe to surmise from this passage that Nadab and Abihu must have attempted entrance into the holy of holies.

          2B     The penalty was determined as guilt

                    “…and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”             

OUR THEME TODAY IS:  God protects His glory
This is a good reminder for us all that God is a zealous and jealous God when it comes to his glory, and He will not share His glory with anyone.
God will protect His glory!
We have seen this in the problem that we deduced and in the premise that was depicted, and in the penalty determined. Finally we move to…
4A     The Purpose Demonstrated   (3)

We can see God’s purpose in the gruesome death of these two boys demonstrated in two ways. First we see that…

          1B     The purpose was demonstrated by God’s sentence

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me…’

1C     Sacredness

“…I will be sanctified…”

What does holy or sanctified mean?

The verb carries the meaning of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred. It is used to show stark contrast to that which is common. It carries the ides “to be clean, to be pure, or to be consecrated, separate from anything common.”

Everything that God demanded in the specific material, color, design, measurements, and in his directions was to be used as a pattern for the purpose of demonstrating that He is not common.

You must consider God as sacred and as separate from anything that is common or unclean. This does not mean that God is unapproachable. It means you cannot approach God in a flippant, disrespectful, common, trivial, or even drunken manner! God is holy!!

                    2C     Status

                              “…I must be glorified.”

                              What does that mean?
The root word occurs some 376 times in the Hebrew text. It is a word that means heavy or weighty. God is supreme and superior to anyone or anything therefore he is heavy or weighty. He is worthy of all honor and of every absolute honor.

The actual or literal meaning of the word heavy or weighty is rarely used in the bible. It came to be used figuratively and it was applied to men in society who were to be considered weighty, honorable, or impressive, or worthy of absolute respect.

So, the word came to mean honorable honored glorious or glorified, it came to be used in relationship to ones reputation as an honorable, glorious or dignified individual.

So to give glory or to glorify someone was to be reminded of the fact that someone was deserving of utmost respect, absolute honor or full obedience.

What is mind-blowing, awesome, and amazing that God’s desire and design to fill the earth with his reputation and presence in order that all men might gladly recognize His worth, honor, and dignity and enables men to participate in that glory.

So, when the priestly ministry and the sacrifices were offered, they had to be done in such a way that showed God’s sacredness and his statutes. There is at least two reasons why this is so crucial:

o   It demonstrated God’s sacredness and His status as being absolutely worthy of supreme honor and respect

o   It served as a warning or means of prevention from the people to ever attempt to honor God or offer their sacrifices in such a way that would “steal” the glory from God

Listen to these statements: 

“I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8, ESV)

“everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7, ESV)

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11, ESV)

Do you get God’s drift? He is not going to share his glory.

So, the purpose of their death was demonstrated by God’s declaration. There is a second way the purpose of their death is seen.
          2B     The purpose was demonstrated by Aaron’s silence
                    “And Aaron held his peace.”
Could you? Could you have held your peace on being informed that your two sons had just been incinerated, and for disobedience?
The word for peace is the word that is used most often in context to catastrophe and mourning. Aaron had to keep quiet in spite of the death of his sons. Aaron was silent. I think Aaron was silent for at least two (2) reasons
1C     He is silent because of the meaning of their death
Aaron knew that God had judged his two sons for their disobedience and disrespect. Aaron knew his boys deserved their punishment. Since God had done this, how could God be wrong? How could Aaron complain against God?
God makes no mistakes. Aaron had to concur with what God had done. To complain would be to have challenged God.

[There seems to be a second reason Aaron held his peace and was silent.] 
          2C     He is silent because of the mission of their death
This is a crucial time for the nation of Israel. The tabernacle had been built, the furnishings had been moved in and set up, the priests had been dressed, anointed, and consecrated, and the sacrifices required by God had been determined. The people had been blessed, the glory of God filled the Tabernacle, fire from God had ignited the altar and burned the sacrifices demonstrating that God was pleased and had accepted the sacrifices.
Through all these things God had established both his sacredness and his status. He was holy. All who came before God or came into his presence must know it and treat God with all holiness. They must worship god as God deserves to be worshipped. God demanded that He be glorified and honored as He was worthy.
The death of Nadab and Abihu was to demonstrate these points to Moses, Aaron, and Aarons remaining sons and to the entire nation of Israel
They had to see how serious it was to treat God without proper reverence, respect, and honor. This is why they did not get an opportunity to repent.
With their death we see both the meaning and the mission – God is holy and glorious and he will not share his glory with any other.
 OUR THEME TODAY IS:  God protects His glory
This is a good reminder for us all that God is a zealous and jealous God when it comes to his glory, and He will not share His glory with anyone.
God will protect His glory!

[What do you say we wrap this up?] 


We have a tendency to read about the death of Nadab and Abihu with a sense of disbelief or even a bit of righteous indignation. How could two such privileged and honored me be destroyed by God with no chance to repent?

They failed to distinguish between the strange or profane and what was holy. Rather than submitting to the HS of God they were possibly drunk and as a result was careless with something that God will not allow us to be careless about.

Exhortation:  I exhort you this morning to pause for an examination of how you treat the glory of God. Examine your spiritual senses, be sure they are not dull or impaired. Make sure you are not walking in a spiritual stupor.

Let me conclude this exhortation with four applications:

-          Expose & eliminate anything in your life that distracts from God’s holiness and glory

-         Disobedience brings chastisement and correction from God

-         When God does chastise or corrects, He is always right – don’t fight it or despise it

-          God is serious about His glory – He will protect – He will not share with another.

Paul wrote in Romans 16:27 (ESV)

“…to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

Let’s pray! J

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful Sunday "Service" as usual. Thanks for taking the time to put us on the right tracks of life.