Updated: Aug 22, 2019
‘By those who come near Me,
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people,
I must be glorified.’
The Book of Leviticus tells the story of two priests who offered strange fire to God in the tabernacle. All of the priests had been instructed to stay at the door of the tabernacle for 7 days before entering the tabernacle – they were to separate themselves from the rest of the people at the camp. They were to be consecrated to the Lord and refrain from their normal life and duties. This was a devoted time of waiting on the Lord.
After the 7 day period of waiting on the Lord, Leviticus 9:23-24 tells us:
“Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
What an incredible moment! Moses and Aaron didn't make fire for the burnt offerings but the fire came from the Lord Himself!
Right after this awesome event transpired, we read in Leviticus 10:1-3:
Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, 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 And Moses said to Aaron,
“This is what the Lord spoke, saying:
‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’
They had come near to the Lord without regarding Him as Holy. The next verse says that the Lord spoke to Aaron and told him, if anyone will enter into Tabernacle while drinking wine or while intoxicated, they willsurely die and Jewish tradition still teaches this was the sin of these two priests. The Lord's response was a stern warning: we are not to disregard His Holiness.
Wow! Fire had come directly from the Lord and consumed them! When we read this story – we are so glad we are not under that old covenant but under the new covenant of Christ! But did the death and resurrection of Christ take away the Holiness of God? Does our ability to be forgiven justify a disregard of His glory?
Let's not forget that the entire Old Testament is a shadow and type of the New Testament. Are people killed under New Testament Christianity for not honoring the Holiness of the Lord? Well... let's take a look directly from the New Testament to see if we are held to these same standards as these two priests or if our belief in Jesus has made us exempt from this accountability!
To begin with, let's establish that the New Testament makes it clear that as Christians, we have the honor of being priests unto the Lord just like Aaron, Nadab and Abihu!
2 Peter 2:4,5 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 9,10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
Clearly, we have been called to be priests just like them. Would it be true then that if we offer spiritual sacrifices without honoring God as Holy – we would suffer the same fate? Even under the new law of grace? Let's look to the New Testament for further instruction in this matter.
Matthew 5:22-24 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
This is a serious scripture regarding the way we should examine and purify ourselves when bringing an offering to the Lord so we will not offer a strange fire or an unacceptable offering to him. But let's look at another event documented in the book of Acts that was written specifically for those of us under grace:
Acts 5:1-6 "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
"Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him."
The story goes on to repeat this story again as his wife Sapphira suffers the same fate as her husband and they carry her out to be buried beside him
Their offering to the Lord was counted as unacceptable and they paid for that mistake with their lives. The bible says that great fear came on the church and upon everyone who heard these things.
Again, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 explains that we are to take communion to remember the sacrifice of the Lord. As we drink from the cup (representing His Blood) and eat the bread (representing His body) the bible tells us to examine ourselves thoroughly:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die). For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
Wow.... this is the same thing that happened with Nadab and Abihu! Are we perfect? No, we are not. I don't like to admit there have been times at communion when I passed the cup to the next person without partaking of it or I prayed a prayer of confession to the Lord while the cup was quickly coming my way - but it forced me to examine myself and propelled me to get alone with the Lord and let Him cleanse me. Jesus is my best friend and my big brother and as I regard the Holiness of the Lord... I know it is only the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice that makes me clean and worthy to partake of His presence!
These scriptures are pretty heavy, but let's don't miss the encouragement that God hid here for us... if we will judge ourselves, we will not be condemned with the world. It's necessary to examine ourself and use the word of God as a mirror to see ourselves the way that God sees us.
In His presence is fullness of joy. He desires to speak to us and show us great and mighty things that we have never known. These are the last days and those who truly know Him will do great exploits in His Name.
Friends, let's restore a regard for Holiness in our walk with God. Only then will our lives reflect the lives of Moses and Aaron, whose sacrifices were so pleasing to the Lord - that God Himself provided the fire from heaven!
Teresa Kelton is the editor of Daughters of Zion. She has been involved in various ministries over 15 years. She is a prophetic teacher and enjoys dream interpretation.
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