- Sermon Notes
The Fire Within
Leviticus 9:22 to 10:11
Leviticus is named after the tribe of Levi. They were given the honor of being priests in Israel, representing the people to God and God to the people. There are several possible reasons why the tribe of Levi was given such honor, but the most likely is because of what happened in Exodus 32.
Moses had been on the mountain for 40 days and the people did not know what had become of him, so they came to Aaron and said, “Make us a god who will go before us, as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
You remember the story. Aaron told them to bring the gold from their earrings and such and he fashioned a golden calf and then they ate and drank and got up to play. In other words, it turned into a party. When Moses came down on the mountain and saw what Israel had done, he became angry and threw down the tablets on which God had written the Law. He then said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me now.” And it says, “All the sons of Levi gathered together to him.” It was a powerful moment and a challenge to all of us.
The book of Leviticus is a manual to guide the priests of Israel and the people of Israel on how to worship God in the temple. The instructions are clear and exact. All the offerings and sacrifices are important because they all point to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Chapters 1 through 9 give the instructions for worship in detail. Then, at the end of chapter 9 comes the great inauguration of the offerings and the bringing of the sacrifices.
When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. What a beautiful and glorious moment!
But immediately they run into trouble because the sons of Aaron do not bring the offering God instructed them to bring. Instead of bringing fire from the altar; the fire that came from God Himself, they brought “strange fire.” They brought their own fire rather than God’s fire. Instead of God’s fire, God’s way, they brought their fire, their way.
What great lessons there are for us in these verses.
I.Don’t Bring Strange Fire to God
- Let’s start with some basic facts of the case.
- God gave clear instructions; they were to bring fire from the altar, the place where the lamb was slain and offered to God in their place.
- They laid their hands on the head of the animal and the animal became the substitute for them and for the sons of Israel. The animal died in their place. The lamb was then laid on the altar where the fire which God provided consumed it.
- Instead of bringing fire from the altar, they brought their own fire and God rejected it and rejected them.
- God is setting a standard – They must do it the way God said it; He won’t receive strange fire and He won’t receive them!
- The point for you and me…You don’t get to do whatever you want to do however you want to do it.
A. God’s fire; God’s way
- From the beginning of creation God has had a plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. His Son, His only begotten Son, would die in your place. Your sins would be removed from you and placed on His Son. It’s as though you laid your hands on His head and your sins were transferred to Jesus on the cross; the cross on which He paid for them in full.
- Based on His blood shed on the cross which God accepted in your behalf, you yourself are accepted by God and are given the right to be called a child of God with full rights of citizenship in heaven.
- That’s God’s plan, that’s God’s way and there is no other way.
John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
- Somebody might say, well that’s not very nice. That’s not even politically correct; I’ve got my own ideas about eternity. It seems to me that a person ought to be able to figure out their own way and God should accept it; that’s much more all-inclusive.
- No, it’s God’s fire, God’s way. The fire of His condemnation and judgment fell on His Son on the cross; you come to God through His Son or He will reject your fire and will reject you.
B. Don’t light your own fire
- This is what was wrong with what they offered; they wanted their fire, their way, but God made His way known. His instructions were clear.
Leviticus 16:12-13, He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense and bring it inside the veil. He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die.
- Strange fire is anything that is not kindled by the Spirit of God.
Isaiah 50:11, Behold, all you that kindle a fire… walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled and this shall you have of mine hand; you shall lie down in sorrow. (KJV)
Illus – One of the ways we worship God today is by bringing a sacrifice of praise. We sing songs given by, inspired by and ignited by, the Holy Spirit. There is a reason we don’t offer songs to God by the Rolling Stones; it’s strange fire. I always thought their music itself was strange, but it most certainly would be strange fire if you tried bringing it to God as an offering of worship.
- When you worship, you worship by the Holy Spirit within you, the fire of God that stirs up your soul and fills your heart with His love.
- You’re giving to God a portion of what He has given to you.
C. Honor God as holy
- Vs 3 – Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.”
Illus – Imagine if a pastor used cuss words while teaching the word of God. No way, that’s strange fire. God must be honored before the people.
- Nadab and Abihu knew that what they were doing was against God’s instruction. They disregarded what God said and did what they wanted to do. It was their fire, their way.
- They didn’t honor God as holy; they gave no weight to His words.They didn’t consider God’s instruction important.
Illus – Before I taught my kids to drive, before they could even start the car, I said these words, “Here now is the one rule that rules all other rules; it’s the most important rule of all; you must do exactly what I say when I say it.If you do not do exactly as I say, your driving career is over.”
App – We want to teach our children and especially our teenagers that while we love them with unending love, they must learn to put weight to our words.
- This is a real problem today.God needs to be more revered; more weight needs to be put on His word because the consequences are real.
Galatians 6:7-9, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
- God made an example of Nadab and Abihu. I guess you could say God fired them. I don’t believe God sent them to hell necessarily, but the message of honoring God must be understood from the very beginning because they were doing this before the entire nation of Israel.
Illus – Moses himself at one point did not treat God as holy when the people grumbled about not having water. God told Moses to speak to the rock (and that rock was Christ), but Moses struck it –twice—he misrepresented God’s heart and did not do what God said. He did not treat God as holy. He didn’t give weight to his words.
Numbers 20:12, But of the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believe Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Illus – By the way, we are in Christ Jesus and the fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice on the bronze altar is that which fell on Jesus Christ because of our sin and therefore we are saved in Him from God’s wrath.
Otherwise, you would be in trouble every time you stood before God to worship but had a spat with your spouse about being late to church.
II. Bring God the Fire of Your Heart
- What does God desire for you to bring when you worship? When you honor Him?
- In other words, if Nadab and Abihu brought strange fire, what then is the fire which God desires?
A. Fire of the heart comes from God
- It was the fire from God that consumed the sacrifice on the bronze altar and it was to stay lit at all times.
- They were then to take from that fire to offer God the incense — which represented the prayers of the saints.
- The point is that the fire of God was to be used in their worship.
- In the same way, we are to offer to God the fire that He brought into our lives when we received Christ into our hearts as Lord and Savior and then were filled with the Spirit of the living God.
- Vs 8-9 — The Lord spoke to Aaron and told him that neither he nor his sons were to drink wine or strong drink when they come into the tent of meeting.
- It’s interesting because this is the only place we see God speaking directly to Aaron. It’s almost as if God is taking Aaron aside and explaining what happened and helping him to understand that it must never happen again.
- any commentators believe that the sons were likely intoxicated when this event happened. Their judgment was impaired.
App – Paul drew a comparison between the influence of being drunk with wine and being filled with the Holy Spirit. It will change the way you speak; it will change the way you walk; it will change the way you live.God’s fire; God’s way.
Ephesians 5:18-19, And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
Illus – We have a phrase that captures this point powerfully, we say someone is “under the influence” when they’ve had too much.
What are you ‘under the influence’ of in your life? God wants you to be under the influence of the fire of the Holy Spirit rather than anything that comes from the world.
B. God fights fire with fire.
- Honor God by the fire that He put in your heart.Nadab and Abihu brought their fire, their way. God rejected it; He fought fire with fire.
- When you bring God’s fire, God’s way, the Spirit of God and the anointing of God is on what you do.
- But if you bring your own fire, your own way, God will bring the fire of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.“God resists the proud,” the scripture says.
- We need to put more weight on his words and do things His way.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
- God’s way will bless your marriage; God’s way will bless your business; God’s way will bless your family.
- Let the fire of your life be kindled by the Holy Spirit; that is the fire that God truly desires.
Leviticus 9:22-10:11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
The Sin of Nadab and Abihu
10 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. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,
‘By those who come near Me I [a]will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’”
So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
4 Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your [b]relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp.” 5 So they came forward and carried them still in their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not [c]uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your [d]kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the Lord has [e]brought about. 7 You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.
8 The Lord then spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations— 10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them through Moses.”