LET THE BIBLE SPEAK – Playing With Fire

Announcer: Today on Let
the Bible Speak – They went to worship
and never returned. Their story next on
Let The Bible Speak. From the churches of Christ From the churches of ChristLet k Let the Bible Speak with Kevin Presley ♪ Intro Music ♪ It’s a pleasure to
be with you today for Let The Bible Speak. Thanks for joining me and I hope you enjoy
our half hour of study from the word of God. Worship is a very
serious affair, much more serious than
many treat it today. It is a privilege to be
allowed to stand before God and offer him worship, not something to be treated
lightly or carelessly. Just a brief review
of the Old Testament shows us how God looks at people who don’t respect his law and who saunter into the
presence of the Lord, and worship however they please. In Leviticus chapter 10, we read a tragic story of
two of the most notable people in Israel at that time, priest of God and sons of
the great high priest Aaron. They were the nephews of Moses and next in line to succeed
Aaron as high priest. But they made a serious
and fatal mistake that is forever embalmed
in the holy scriptures to remind us of all ages that God is to be reverenced,
respected and obeyed. Leviticus chapter 10 tells
us beginning in verse one, “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. “Then Moses said unto Aaron, “”This is it that the
Lord spake, saying, “”I will be sanctified in
them that come nigh me, “”and before all the people
I will be glorified.” “And Aaron held his peace.” What was the offense
of these two men? What was so serious that
it caused the wrath of God to come down on them
and consume them? Well, the bible
identifies their sin saying they offered
strange fire to the Lord. What does that mean? And is it possible
to commit the sin of Nadab and Abihu today? Well indeed it is and this passage sounds
a warning to us today, and that is don’t
play with fire, and we’ll talk about
that in just a moment. – The Psalmist said,
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(pleasant gospel music) There is nothing more serious and more important than worship. People will never
gather together to do anything of
greater importance than when the people
of God come together to worship the Lord. Worship is very serious business in the crimson court that
runs throughout history shows us how holy
worship is meant to be. Jesus told the Samaritan
woman at the well that, “True worshipers
shall worship “the Father in
spirit and in truth, “for the Father seeketh
such to worship him. “God is a spirit and
that they worship him “must worship him in
spirit and in truth.” John chapter four,
verses 23 and 24. Now, the bible also tells us
in Romans 15 in verse four that the things
written aforetime and that means all
of these stories and arrangements that read
about in the Old Testament, that those things written
aforetime were written for our, we in the new covenant age, are written for our learning. That we through patience and
comfort of the scriptures might have hope. So, the holy spirit had
Moses record this story of Nadab and Abihu in
Leviticus chapter 10 for all of us down
through the ages to learn some lessons from. And the overall lesson is it is a very dangerous
thing to play with fire. Now, God had given
a very careful plan as to how he was
to be worshiped. In fact, that’s the basic
theme of the book of Leviticus that God is holy and there is a prescribed
way to approach him. He wants his people to be holy. Ultimately the whole thing
is a picture of the access that we gain to God only
through the Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. He was not only the
ultimate offering for sin that propitiated or
satisfied the demand of God but he is our high priest
that went inside the veil and made that offering, and opened up the way
to God in heaven for us all according to Hebrews
chapters eight through 10. Now, Moses appointed
Aaron, his brother to be, the high priest
assemble of the Christ who would one day come. And he very carefully
prescribed the way, the worship of God
was to be carried out. In fact, if you look
through the eighth chapter you’ll find a phrase
used over and over. If you look in verse
13 for example, the bible there says that, “Moses brought Aaron’s sons, “and put coats upon them, “and girded them with girdles, “and put bonnets upon them, “as the Lord commanded Moses.” Then look at verse 17. “But the bullock, and his
hide, his flesh, and his dung, “he burnt with fire
without the camp, “as the Lord commanded Moses.” Then verse 21. “And he washed the inwards
and the legs in water, “and Moses burnt the
whole ram upon the altar. “It was a burnt sacrifice
for a sweet savor, “and an offering made
by fire unto the Lord, “as the Lord commanded Moses.” Then again, verse 29. “And Moses took the breast, “and waved it for a wave
offering before the Lord.” There again, notice
the last phrase, “As the Lord commanded Moses.” And still yet, we can skip
down to verses 34 through 36. “As he has done this day, “so the Lord hath
commanded to do, “to make an atonement for you. “Therefore shall ye abide at
the door of the tabernacle “of the congregation day
and night seven days, “and keep the charge of
the Lord, that ye die not, “for so I am commanded. “So Aaron and his
sons did all things “which the Lord commanded
by the hand of Moses.” Now there is a lot of
emphasis this and thereupon what God commanded to be done. Now do you suppose
God was particular? Can we really say that
worship is worship and it doesn’t make any
difference how we worship. God tells them,
you do it this way or he actually
says you will die. Now I’m thankful
that we don’t live under the Levitical system
in the Old Testament law, we live under a better covenant. Worship is much more simple
on this side of the cross but what has not
changed is the fact that God still is
to be reverenced, and he is still be worshiped
in spirit and in truth. So, Moses told
Aaron how to prepare and offer the sacrifice. He was to place it on the
altar exactly as God desired and if he did it
according to God’s word, the glory of the Lord
would appear to him and fire would fall from heaven and consume the sacrifice showing that God
had accepted it. Well, all of the
congregation of Israel gathered around and
watched as Aaron carried out God’s instructions
to the very letter. And Leviticus chapter
nine in verse 24 tells us that, “There came a fire
out from before the Lord “and consumed upon the
altar the burnt offering, “and the fat which
when all the people saw “they shouted and
fell on their faces.” Well, what an awesome thing that must have been to behold. To see the fire of God
come down in approval and consume that sacrifice. God had accepted it. You see, Aaron didn’t
approach the altar willy-nilly and just placed whatever
he wanted to on the altar in some casual and arrogant way. He didn’t dare. He didn’t try to device
something that he thought the Lord would accept or that the Lord
would find pleasing. He did what the Lord said and that’s what
the Lord accepted. Leviticus chapter nine
in verse five says, “And they brought that
which Moses commanded.” Now, Aaron feared the Lord and he only brought to
God what God asked for. But Aaron’s sons were
a different story. These two priests under
Aaron, their father, stepped up to burn incense
before the Lord in chapter 10. And verse one tells us “That 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.” Well, what a difference
between what we read in the two chapters before. You see, their father
did as the Lord commanded but Nadab and Abihu
did that which the Lord did not command. Now there’s a lot
of speculation about exactly what the sin
of Nadab and Abihu was. Some say that they
shouldn’t have been burning incense at all or that their offering was
performed at the wrong time. But that’s now what
the bible says. The record says they offered strange fire before the Lord. Now throughout the year
incense was to be burned upon the golden
altar twice everyday, once in the morning and
once in the evening. And yearly on the
day of atonement, the high priest which
at this time was Aaron was to take incense
into the Holy of Holies and burn it before
the mercy seat. Leviticus chapter 16
tells us about that, in verse 12 it tells us that
they were to take fiery coals and from beneath
the brazen altar, and place that in the censer and place the incense upon it. Now, that’s something that
most of us today might look at and say, well, that’s
awfully particular. What difference would that make? Why was that important? Well, it was important
because the fire upon the altar came from God. It was divine in origin
and not human in origin. Now, the bible doesn’t
give us every detail about what Nadab and Abihu did and what may or may not
have been wrong with it. But it does tells us that the fire they
used was strange fire, that’s the keyword. Now the word strange means not
something weird necessarily but it means alien
or foreign, unknown. In other words, it was
unholy, that’s the point. And it was unholy because it
did not come from the Lord. Now, we don’t know
where Nadab and Abihu got that fire from. But the point is
it was not the fire that God prescribed. Some even say that
they were new priests and they may have gotten excited when they saw the fire
of God come down before and fall upon the altar, and they heard the people shout and so they got caught
up in the moment. They just grabbed up
their censors unbiddened, unbidden and started
burning incense. Well regardless, what
they were doing was wrong. No matter what the circumstance, it was wrong, it was sinful. It was an act of will worship. They were doing
what pleased them instead of what
pleased the Lord. Now notice, it does not
say that they did that which the Lord forbade. Now that’s a very important
point for us to get today. It does not say that Aaron or that Nadab and Abihu did that which the Lord forbade. Because there are a
lot of people today that think that anything
is fine in worship that God does not
explicitly forbid. Well that of course would
allow a lot of things. That would allow a lot of things that aren’t even
yet being practiced in this age of innovation. But that’s not what
the bible says. Leviticus 10 in verse one says, “They offered strange fire “which the Lord
commanded them not.” In other words, God
didn’t say thou shall not. He didn’t have to
say thou shall not. Rather his worship had
already been outlined and they were
presumptuously adding to it and substituting
what God said to do. Did you know by the way,
this is interesting, that the name Nadab in
Hebrew means liberal. I find that interesting. A liberal is someone
who takes a loose and permissive view
of the word of God when we speak of the
liberal theologically. The liberal today often says, well, as long as the bible
doesn’t say not to do it then it must be all right. Well that’s apparently what Nadab and his brother
thought anyway. Whatever, wherever they
obtain the fire from God didn’t say not
to get it from there but you see, God
really did tell, well, God really did tell
them we’re not to get it when he told them
where to get it. Now many did they tell us that the silence of
God permits us to do really as we please. As long as the bible
doesn’t explicitly say that something is wrong, then it must be okay. Well, Nadab and Abihu
learned a lesson and they learned
it the hard way. Don’t play with fire. It does matter that
we do what God said and it matters that we
only do what God said, and we only do it in the way that God said to do it. Now, friends, there’s
a lot of strange fire being offered in religion today. There’s a great deal of worship that is being offered up to
God because it’s exciting or it makes people feel good, or it’s popular, or it draws a crowd, or people just don’t
see the harm in it. And you’ll see what could
possibly be wrong with it. But it’s the same thing
that Nadab and Abihu offer. Strange fire which the
Lord did not command. Now, friend, did you know
there is not one word, let me just give
you a few examples. Did you know there is not
one word in the New Testament that authorizes
instrumental music in the worship of the church. Now I know that that is
such a popular practice, it’s almost universal. But nothing in the New Testament authorizes or commands the
use of instrumental music in the assembly of the
worship of the church. Ephesians chapter
five in verse 19 says, “That we’re to speak
to yourselves in psalms “and hymns and spiritual songs, “singing and making melody
in your heart to the Lord.” And yes, I’m aware of the
word solo when he tells us that soloing or this
making melody is is to take place
within our heart. He’s not talking
about the strings of a mechanical instrument. We use our heart in order
to produce this music that we offer to the Lord and we do so through singing. Colossians three
in verse 16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell
in you richly in all wisdom, “teaching and
admonishing one another “in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, “singing with grace in
your hearts to the Lord.” Now someone immediately says but it doesn’t really matter that Paul didn’t mention
instrumental music as long as we’re singing. But you see with
instrumental music, we’re no longer just
doing what God commanded, we’re doing something
besides what God commanded. We’re doing something in
addition to what God commanded. We’re also playing. Something that God did not tell the New Testament church to do. He said we’re to
make melody in heart, not on the strings
of an instrument. We’re to praise him through
the fruit of our lips, not on the strings of a piano or on the pipes of an organ. Now I’m very aware that
people in the Old Testament used instruments to praise God but they also offered
incense and censers containing fire that came
from beneath an altar holding an animal sacrifice. Do we do that? The New Testament says
nothing of doing those things, neither does it say anything
about playing an instrument in the worship of the church. Is it merely coincidence that the only commandments
given to the early church in the New Testament pertaining
to music were to sing? And church history shows us that the early church didn’t
use instrumental music and it didn’t appear in
so-called Christian worship for nearly 600 years. Now that’d a historical fact. It didn’t appear in so-called Christian worship for hundreds. Some nearly 600 years after
the church was established in the first century. Was that just a coincidence, was that accident? You see, worship
is serious business and worship requires
three things to be accepted of the Lord. To be accepted of the
Lord worship requires the right motive, it requires the right mandate, and it requires
the right method. That is it has to be
offered from the heart, it has to be what
God has commanded, and it has to be done in the way that God revealed
it in his word. And that’s not merely an
Old Testament principle, that’s a biblical principle. That goes back to
the beginning of time when worship was first
performed by anybody. And you see if it isn’t that, it’s strange fire as
the bible calls it here in Leviticus chapter 10, that which the Lord
commanded us not. Now I hope you’ll stop
and think about that today as you gather with
others for worship. And you think about for example, the kind of music that you
are offering to the Lord. Stop and remember the
story of Nadab and Abihu when you walk into
the assembly today and see how the
Lord’s table is spread because a lot of people
have changed that too. Read Matthew 26 and
Mark 14, Luke 22, First Corinthians 11. And friend, I challenge you
to read them very closely, read them very carefully, read them very specifically. And then look at how
the table is spread where you will commune today. Now don’t just assume that
one’s the same as the other. Specifically read those passages and look at the
table that is spread if it’s even spread at all. Whereas Acts 20 in seven says, “The disciples came together
on the first day of the week “to break bread.” And so, if you do come
together to break bread today and you should if you’re
following that example of Acts 20 in seven, then look at the examples
in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, First Corinthians 11. And look at how
the table is spread and see if one
matches the other. And then ask is it possible that I’m offering strange
fire unto the Lord. Now look what happened
in Nadab and Abihu. Leviticus chapter 10
verses one and two says, “And Nadab and Abihu, 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.” Now that seems like an extreme
punishment to people today. It seems like an extreme
punishment to us. Why would God be so punitive? You see, the Lord doesn’t
strike people dead who offer unscriptural
worship today, that’s not the point. But he was making an
example out of Aaron’s sons. God was telling
those people then and consequently telling us that God is to be reverenced. And part of that involves
the fact that it matters how we worship. God wants to be approached and worshiped in a certain way. You see in chapter nine, Aaron followed God’s pattern. He did as the Lord commanded and that’s all it takes
to please the Lord if you do so with
a sincere heart. If you do so with a true heart drawing near to God is
to do what God has said, just don’t do what
he didn’t say to do. Don’t violate what he forbade and don’t add to
what he said to do, just simply do and follow
the pattern that God gave and you can’t be wrong. Aaron followed God’s pattern, fire fell down in approval
upon the sacrifice. And when one worships God
according to his word today when what he does is scriptural and he offers it from a
pure and sincere heart, God receives that worship today and sins before him is a
sweet-smelling savor today. But in chapter 10,
the sons of Aaron disregarded the pattern and fire fell down in judgment, not on approval, the fire
fell in judgment upon them, and that is a warning
to us even today. That’s a principle that
we need to remember. Aaron must have been very sad as he watched his
sons die like that. Perhaps if we had been Aaron, we would have protested
and argued with God but Moses stopped him. If Aaron was so disposed and he said in Leviticus
chapter 10 in verse three, “This is it that the
Lord spake, saying, “”I will be sanctified in
them that come nigh me, “”and before all the people
I will be glorified.” “And Aaron held his peace.” The sin of those young men was not a sin of ignorance, it was a sin of
pride and self-will. They worship their own way
and what could Aaron say. Aaron was the high priest, he knew what God had said, and he now saw that
God meant what he said. And the deaths of
these two notable and respected men of Israel preached a sermon to
the people that day and it should preach
a sermon to us today in this age of
religious innovation and change and
unscriptural practice, that God will be sanctified
in them that come before him. And the lesson is clear, it is a dangerous thing
to play with fire. Make sure friend that your
worship is scriptural. Make sure that every practice is according to the word of God and not according
to the will of men. – If you would like to dig
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