The Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” God has always required obedience. “And Samuel said, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (I Sam. 15:22). In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews said, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9).
In Leviticus 10:1-2 we have recorded, “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.” The ONLY fire that God allowed to be used to burn the sacrificial offerings was the fire from the altar. This fire was never to go out. The requirement of the continual burning fire is described in Leviticus 6:12-13: “And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priests 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. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”
There was a continuity represented by the fire of the altar that the Lord intended to be respected. Perhaps Nadab and Abihu reasoned that since fire is fire and all fire is alike, it makes no real difference how the fire for the sacrifices is obtained. But man’s reasoning is not like God’s! The consequences of the reasoning and action of these two men resulted in death. We ought to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
The example of the disobedience of Nadab and Abihu and the consequent punishment by death is one of the clearest examples in the Bible that God does mean what He says! But how often have men FOLLOWED the example of Nadab and Abihu rather than LEARNED from it.
The Bible teaches that all who disobey God will be punished by the fire of hell. In Revelation 21:8 we learn, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremonger, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
We conclude that, if men do not believe God’s instructions and presume to go their own way, they will be punished in the fire of hell. This is what the Word of God teaches!
What of men who substitute the “strange fire” of instrumental music in worship for the proper worship in song? What of men who substitute the doctrine of “faith only” and/or “grace only” for the obedience Jesus commands (Matt. 7:21-23)? What of men who fellowship false teachers and by their participation with them bid them God speed in spite of the teachings of Romans 16:17 and II John 9-11? What of men who offer the “strange fire” of allowing divorce and remarriage for causes other than the one that is mentioned by the Lord in Matthew 19:9? What of men who offer the “strange fire” of compromised preaching for the preaching of the Word as required of faithful Gospel preachers (II Tim. 4:1-4)? What of all the other substitutions that men do today, both in and outside of the body of Christ?
Do men today think they will be overlooked by God even if they choose to go against His divine Will?
What kind of “fire” are you offering to the Lord? The fire that will save you is the fire that the Lord commands you to use. Any other kind of fire will turn and destroy you!
-Glenn B. Ramsey