Offering Strange Fire

Scripture Passage: 
Leviticus 10:1-11

INTRODUCTION: The law speaks swiftly, and with great force. Nadab and Abihu thought that the details were unimportant—as long as they got the general idea. They were wrong. God expects obedience in His children. We can be thankful that we live in the age of grace. However, God still expects obedience. Now, we serve because of love, and not because of fear. Yet, we should still serve Him with all our heart.

  1. THE SIN OF NADAB AND ABIHU (Leviticus 10:1-2)
    1. They Offered Strange Fire before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1).
      1. Nadab and Abihu
        1. Their identity
          1. The elder sons of Aaron (Exodus 6:23)
          2. Next in line behind Aaron (Exodus 24:1, 9)
        2. Their actions
          1. They took two censers (one for each of the sons).
          2. They put fire in them.
          3. They put incense on the fire.
          4. They made the offering.
            1. The altar of incense is located in the holy place immediately in front of the veil that hides the ark of the covenant and the holy of holies.
            2. It was as near to the presence of the Lord (at the mercy seat) that the average priest ever came.
      2. The biblical meaning of strange
        1. The word strange is found 76 times in the Bible; the words stranger or strangers are found 211 times.
        2. Modern usage normally limits the meaning of strange to that which is odd, unusual, peculiar, surprising.
        3. The biblical usage is much broader. It refers to that which belongs to another or that which does not belong to the person or in the setting in which it is found. This explains several uses of the word in scripture.
        4. In conclusion, the strange fire of our text is fire that is in a place it does not belong. It is not the fire God wanted to be used for the offering of incense – “offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.”
      3. The identity of the strange fire
        1. God lit the fire on the brazen altar (Leviticus 9:24).
        2. This fire was to be kept burning (Leviticus 6:12-13).
        3. The offerings of incense were to be lit from the fire of the altar. That way, it was still the fire of God.
        4. The priests were warned against using strange incense (Exodus 30:7-9); everything was to be done as commanded.
        5. Evidently, Nadab and Abihu decided that they could pick up fire from another source and no one would know the difference.
      4. Three warnings about the offering of incense:
        1. No stranger was to offer incense (Numbers 16:40).
        2. No strange incense was to be offered (Exodus 30:7-9).
        3. No strange fire was to be used in the offering (Leviticus 10:1).
    2. Fire from the Lord Devoured Them (Leviticus 10:2).
      1. Fire went out from the Lord.
        1. The fire does not come from heaven but “from the LORD.”
        2. This phrase refers to the mercy seat in the holiest of all (Leviticus 16:1-2, 13) because that is where the Lord meets with the high priest (Exodus 25:21-22; Exodus 30:6).
      2. The fire devoured them and they died.
        1. A reminder that God is indeed a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29)
        2. To be devoured by fire was a sign of God’s immediate and wrathful judgment (Revelation 18:8).
  2. REQUIREMENTS FOR THOSE WHO APPROACH GOD (Leviticus 10:3-11)
    1. They Must Be Sanctified before the Lord (Leviticus 10:3).
      1. God must be sanctified in those who come before Him (Exodus 19:22; Leviticus 21:8).
      2. God must be glorified before His people.
        1. Nadab and Abihu dishonored God by disobeying His commandment.
        2. They committed this act publicly on a day when “all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD” (Leviticus 9:5).
        3. God destroyed Nadab and Abihu so that He would continue to be glorified by the people.
      3. Aaron held his peace (Psalm 39:9; Proverbs 21:30; Daniel 4:35).
        1. Aaron recognized that this was an act of God and there was nothing he could say to change it.
        2. Aaron submitted to the will of God and said nothing though he was an eloquent speaker (Exodus 4:14).
    2. The Disposal of the Bodies (Leviticus 10:4-5)
      1. By the cousins of Aaron (Leviticus 10:4)
      2. Carried out of the camp in their coats (Leviticus 10:5)
        1. A dead body was unclean.
        2. The sanctuary was to be kept clean (Leviticus 15:31; Numbers 19:13).
        3. The priests were to keep clean in their service to God; a high priest may not defile himself by touching a dead body—even the body of a family member (Leviticus 21:10-12).
        4. They took them out of the camp.
    3. To Aaron and His Surviving Sons (Leviticus 10:6-7)
      1. They are not to mourn for their fallen sons/brothers (Leviticus 10:6).
        1. The priests were limited in being defiled for the dead.
          1. The priests were allowed to be defiled for immediate family members (Leviticus 21:1-3).
          2. But, generally, a priest could not defile himself because he was “a chief man among his people” (Leviticus 21:4).
        2. The high priest was refrained from mourning for the dead.
          1. He was not to partake of the common acts of mourning for the dead (Leviticus 21:10).
          2. He was not to go in to any dead body (Leviticus 21:11).
          3. He was not to go out of the sanctuary or profane it.
        3. They were not allowed to uncover their heads (Leviticus 10:6).
        4. They were not allowed to rend their clothes (Leviticus 10:6).
      2. Let your brethren do the mourning for the dead (Leviticus 10:6).
    4. Make a Difference between Holy and Unholy (Leviticus 10:8-11).
      1. Drink no wine or strong drink when you enter the tabernacle (Leviticus 10:8-9).
        1. The Lord speaks these words directly to Aaron (Leviticus 10:8).
        2. This statement makes it look as though Nadab and Abihu were drunk when they offered the strange fire (Leviticus 10:9).
      2. Make a difference (Leviticus 10:10).
        1. The two classifications
          1. Between the holy and unholy
          2. Between the unclean and clean
        2. Taught to the people (Leviticus 10:11; 2 Chronicles 15:3)

CONCLUSION: Many today do not take the work of God seriously. This is exactly the sin of Nadab and Abihu. They wanted to serve God according to their own methods. If we are going to serve God in an acceptable way, we will have to serve Him on His terms and not our own.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 22:9

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.