That Strange Fire

By A. A. Meeks, Sr.

In Lev. 10:1-2 we are told, “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered profane [strange] fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.”

According to Lev. 16:12, for the Day of Atonement, the incense was to be burned with fire taken from the altar upon which the sacrifices were made, fire that was never allowed to go out. We do not know where these two priests obtained the “strange fire,” nor why they chose to ignore God’s instructions, but they did. God told them the fire He wanted. When they used something else, God showed His displeasure.

God has always expected people to follow His instructions just as He gives them. He is never pleased with anything else. Aaron’s sons may have thought, “Fire is fire. Any of it will burn the incense. What difference does it make?” They learned it did make a difference.

The New Testament gives God’s instructions about how He wants us to live today. Whether or not we are pleasing in His sight is determined by whether we follow His instructions as well as we can. When God gives us a command, we have no right to substitute something we think is just as good. Nothing we can think of is “just as good” as what God commands. As in an example we studied before, Noah built the ark of gopher wood, because that is what God commanded, and the ark saved the life of Noah’s family.

In the New Testament, God says that in order for a person to be saved from sin, that person must be baptized in water (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). He also says that baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). When God says it is a burial, that leaves out sprinkling. If you think “sprinkling is just as good as burial,” remember “that strange fire.”

In worship to Him, God commands us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Jas. 5:13). Since God did not command a musical instrument such as a flute, or a drum, or a cymbal, or any other thing we can make, we have no right to add them. If you should think it makes no difference, you should remember “that strange fire!!!”