Part of my sermon for Sunday.
One of the most gripping events in the Old Testament comes when Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, decide to offer profane fire before the Lord. I think it is shocking to our culture and sensibilities because so many believe that whatever we do for the LORD, if we do it with sincerity then there can be nothing wrong.
In other words, we can do whatever we want when it comes to worshipping God as long as we do so sincerely. After all, that is what Nadab and Abihu were doing… offering fire to God with sincere hearts.
Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-2).
I can imagine that the first time someone reads this text, their thoughts quickly jump to the unfairness of God. The reader is tempted to think that God is being too harsh on these two men. We are witnessing God’s justice being quickly executed and if God is so quick to execute these two priests, then He might just as easily exact justice upon us. The first-time readers of the Bible rarely understand why the judgment is issued so quickly. It is done so because these men are priests. They are being held to a higher standing because of there position before God.
Yet, God would not be unjust for doing the same to the layman who offered profane fire before the LORD. He has every right to do, but usually does not, instead grace and mercy.
The point behind this is that we do not have permission to worship God in any form we choose. God gives us boundaries by which we must approach Him because He is holy and will not be profaned. Listen to what He said in response to devouring Nadab and Abihu:
‘by those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.
Abihu and Nadad were certainly not regarding God as holy. Because God could not tolerate their profane actions, He punished them right then and there for the sake of the people. We do not need leaders who will enter into God’s presence with flippant and cavalier attitudes. The leadership must understand the seriousness of worship. God has given us standards by which we may and may not worship Him
What are those righteous standards? The righteous standards we are given come from the Ten Commandments.