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Rest assured God will take care of it

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"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Jeff Wickwire has been a guest on LIFE Today. He is also the author of Friendships: Avoiding the Ones That Hurt, Finding the Ones That Heal .

Tucked away in the book of Leviticus is a little commentary about the two sons of Aaron and something they did which cost them their lives. It says, "Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them." (Leviticus 10:1, NAS)

What made their offering a "strange fire" that was rejected by God? Strange fire is something which God has not ordered. It is unauthorized fire, an unauthorized offering or work. At its root it is the sin of presumption. Nadab and Abihu knew that the fire used for the altar of incense was to be taken only and exclusively from the altar of burnt sacrifice. This had been God’s command. But instead of obeying God, they presumed to do things their way.

Nadab and Abihu had committed the same sin as Cain, who presumed to offer to God that which He had not ordered—a vegetable offering rather than the shedding of blood for sins—and set into motion the tragic chain of events that led to Abel’s murder.

King Saul also fell into the trap of offering strange fire while under intense attack from the Philistines. He refused to wait for Samuel to arrive and offered a burnt offering on behalf of the people that only the priest was authorized to offer. That day he lost his kingdom. (1 Samuel 13)

At the height of his popularity and success, King Uzziah presumed to enter the temple of God to burn incense on the altar. When the priests saw him, scri pture records, "They confronted King Uzziah and said, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The LORD God will not honor you for this!’" The Bible says that while the priests watched, "Leprosy rose up in his forehead" and Uzziah bore the curse of leprosy the rest of his days. (2 Chronicles 26)

Strange fire comes about through what we might call "will-worship." When we exalt our own will above God’s, we are committing will-worship. By making ourselves judges of God’s purposes and ways, we exalt our wills over His and commit the tragic mistake of telling the Almighty that our way is better.

Pride is an equal player with presumption and will-worship in the offering of strange fire. In essence, it is sheer blind pride to inform God that in our own brilliance and giftedness we have found a better way.

Presumption and will-worship fueled by pride always carries a price. This is worth our attention because, even as followers of Christ, it is still possible to be involved in something which God has not ordered. One might be involved in a strange relationship, or a strange ministry, or a strange business venture. In other words, it may look fine to the natural eye, but in fact it is something God has not commanded.

Even worse is the situation in which, like Cain, we assume that there is another way to peace with God, another route to heaven other than Christ Jesus. And so we offer up our own good works, or turn to another Messiah, or decide that good intentions will suffice with God. The Bible warns of such presumption. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…" (Isaiah 64:6)

The lesson of Nadab and Abihu is the lesson of God’s way versus our own. What may seem inconsequential to us may be significant to God. If we decide that we can cut a scri ptural corner to get something we want, compromise a bit here and there and the results will be the same, the same presumption that entered Nadab and Abihu’s hearts can creep into our own souls. Having been in ministry for quite some time now, I can tell you that I’ve seen God’s people involved in strange fire of all sorts. Presuming to enter a ministry for which they have not been anointed, deciding that a questionable means justifies a noble end, stepping presumptuously into a business dealing that God never directed and many other examples always leave a trail of broken hearts and disillusioned souls.

The lesson of strange fire is to wait upon God for His leading, never depart from the parameters of His Word, and learn to enjoy the incredible blessing that comes from obedience. Strange fires never prosper, but obedience to God always succeeds!

This Week

Ask the Lord to shape your will according to His purposes "…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

Prayer

"Father, work in me so that my desires and my will conform to Your plans. Forgive me for insisting on my own ways. Help me to wait on You, desire what You desire, and be like Jesus who only did what He saw You doing and said what He heard You saying."


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