William A. Dillard
the pages of the Old Testament comes the divine record of the cost of
attempting to serve God man’s way instead of strictly God’s way.
The incident is referenced three different places to underscore its
notice: Leviticus 10:1; Number 3:4 and 26:61. Nadab and Abihu, sons
of Aaron offered strange fire before the Lord which He had not
commanded. Immediately, God caused them both to die instantly. Now,
let us examine this unusual incident a little closer.
Were the priests to use fire in the service of the tabernacle? Yes, they were. They must use fire at the altar of sacrifice. They also used fire at the altar of incense. However, for specific didactic purposes, explicit instructions were given as to how this was to be done. Obedience to the instruction sanctified the Lord in the sight of all Israel, but disregard for the instructions did just the opposite. Nadab and Abihu were one up on God: they had a better idea than what they were told to do. It cost their life.
But wait a minute, modern man says. Fire is fire, so what difference does it make? It seems the Old Testament God is harsh and cruel. Well, that is indeed the mindset of most modern religionists. Perverting Gods instructions to do things man’s way is called “iniquity” in the Bible. God will not have it.
But, it seemed so nice and certainly more palatable to the general populace to make things nicer….put in a little incense….make a little more show. But it is not what God commands, neither is it what God will accept.
Well, that certainly would not happen today, thanks to the grace of God. Yes, the teaching period of the Law is done. The adult period of Grace is ours. But does not one’s actions as an adult have weightier consequences? If one spends any time at all with Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Matt. 5-7, he will know the answer is a definite yes.
It is for this reason that the oft New Testament call to God’s people is to be vigilant, to be sober. The incident of Nadab and Abihu forever testifies that man must not, cannot, serve God man’s way, but strictly God’s way. Too much is made of a supposed liberty to interpret scriptures differently. After all, many claim a right to their opinion. But the truth is that no one has a right to an opinion on God’s Word. It is not of any private interpretation, and means what it says. It may seem nice to exclude the blood of Jesus, or the supposed radical burial in water for baptism by substituting sprinkling and being added to a church roll. But as drunken as the world may be on man made religion and the enticement of materialism, the God we all must face is indeed the very God Who took the life of Nadab and Abihu who dared to defy the explicit instructions of God to do what seemed “nicer” to them. Indeed, modern Christians would do well to consider again Hebrew 10:31 and 12:29.