The Fire Within
Leviticus 9:22 to 10:11
May 11-12, 2019
Open your Bibles to Leviticus 9:22. We are going to start the Book of Leviticus today. A lot of people think, "Really? Are we actually really going to study through the Book of Leviticus?" Yes, we are, because you would be amazed at the insight that God has in store for us through His work. He reveals Jesus to us in such amazing wonderful ways, and He reveals ourselves as worshipers of God, He reveals ourselves.
The name Leviticus comes from the tribe of Levi. They were given the honor of being the priests in Israel, representing the people to God, and representing God to the people. You might wonder, how is it that the tribe of Levi got this honor amongst all the tribes? How did they get this honor? I think there are several possible reasons, but the most likely is because of what happened in Exodus 32, which we studied just recently.
Moses had been on the mountain, Mount Sinai, for those 40 days receiving the law and the commandments, and the people did not know what had become of him, so they came to Aaron, and they said to Aaron, "Make us a God who will go before us, for as this Moses, we don't know what has become of him."
Do you remember the story? Aaron told them to bring the gold from their earrings and such, and then a golden calf was fashioned. It says the people, they ate, and they drunk, and they got up to play. It turned into a loud party, a loud, a lewd party.
Moses, coming down for the mountain, he hears the tribe, the whole nation of Israel is falling after this, and he just gets angry, throws down the tablets, you remember the story, smashes them, and then he does something very interesting. Here's a powerful scene where he comes to the nation of Israel and he says this, "Whoever is for the Lord, come to me now. Whoever is for the Lord, come to me now." It says the whole tribe of Levi came together to Moses. This is a very inspiring powerful scene. I love. It's important to recognize this example of just single-hearted devotion, no doublemindedness, no wishy-washy, no half-heartedness, we're in and we're all in. That's a great example. Levi, the tribe is given this great honor.
The Book of Leviticus is like a manual to guide the priests of Israel, but it's also to guide the people of Israel on how to worship God. Really in many ways, it's a manual on worship. He gives these instructions, very clear, very detailed, very exact, about all the offerings and all the sacrifices, and they're all important, because they all point to Jesus Christ. They all reveal a different aspect of who Christ is, Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
Chapters 1-9 give the instructions for the worship in the temple in great detail. Then you come to chapter 9, and it's the great inauguration. Now, we're going to do it, the offerings, the sacrifices are brought, and it says that when Moses and Aaron came out and blessed the people, this is a great inauguration day, they're going to do it. They bless the people; it says that the glory of the Lord appeared in such a way that all the people saw it. When they saw it, it says they shouted, they just shouted. Lift up their voices and just shouting it out, like what you did today, because we're studying Leviticus. They're so excited about it too, and they're just shouting it out. Then it says, "And then they fell on their faces." This is honor. God is here. The glory of God in a powerful way, the inauguration of these things, and they fall in their faces.
What a beautiful glorious moment. Immediately, then they run into trouble, because the sons of Aaron, two of the sons of Aaron- Aaron is the high priest, and his sons are like priests under him. Two of them do not bring the offering that God instructed them to bring. This is the inauguration. Instead of bringing fire from the altar, that fire that God Himself laid on the altar, they brought what's called strange fire. They brought their own fire rather than God's. Instead of God's fire God's way, they brought their fire their way. There's a great lesson in the story.
Whenever I think about this story, I am reminded of a scene out of The Chronicles of Narnia. We read these to our kids, and then when we adopted it via like, "Let's read them again." Some of the scenes just are memorable. One of those scenes, it reminds me of this, they're first in Narnia, the kids are there, and they discover that the king is a lion, and they're rather surprised, "He's a lion?" One of them says, "I should be rather nervous to meet a lion. Is he safe?" They are answered "Safe? Of course, he's not safe. He's a lion, but he is good, and he's the king." I just love that scene, because it reminds us of the respect and the honor of the king.
Let's read this starting in 9:22, "Then Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people and blessed them. He stepped down after making the sin offering, and the burned offering and the peace offerings, and Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all of the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord." Remember this pillar of fire that is a picture of the presence of God. "Fire came out from before the Lord, and it consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat that were on the altar." This is an altar, that's a picture of the offering of Christ, the Son of the Living God. When the people saw that, that's when they shouted and they rejoiced, and then they fell on their faces.
Chapter 10 verse 1. Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, two of the four, they took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, they placed incense on it and they offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. This is the inauguration, and you're bringing strange fire? It says fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord said, by those who come near me, I will be treated as holy, and before all the people, I will be honored." Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
Moses then called to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle, Uzziel, in other words, their cousins, and said to them, "Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp." They came forward, carried them, still in their tunics, to the outside of the camp, as Moses said.
Then Moses said to Aaron and his son, Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes so that you may not die, and that He may not become wrathful against your congregation, but your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, they will be will, the burning which the Lord brought about. You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting lest you die, for the Lord's anointing oil is upon you." They did according to the word of Moses.
Look at verses 8 and 9, because it gives us some insight into what perhaps might have been wrong. The Lord then spoke to Aaron, by the way, the first time He spoke directly to Aaron, and he said, "Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you come into the tent of meeting, do not have been drinking. It is a perpetual statute throughout your generation so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, between the clean and the unclean." In other words, the discernment and the judgment that comes with a clear mind.
I. Don’t Bring Strange Fire to God
Let's go through these verses, because they're really very important for us to apply to our life, starting with don't bring strange fire to God. Let's start with the basic facts of the case. God gave clear instructions. They were to bring fire from the altar, that place where the lamb was slain and offered to God in their place, it meant something, it was a powerful message. They laid their hands on the head of the animal, and the animal then would become a substitute for them and for the sons of Israel. In other words, the animal died in their place, for their sins. That lamb then was laid on the altar, where it says that the fire of God Himself consumed it. Instead of bringing fire from the altar, they brought their own fire. Therefore, God rejected it, and God rejected them. What we have to see is God is setting a standard here. They must do it the way God said it. He will not receive strange fire. He won't receive them.
A. God’s fire; God’s way
There's a lesson. There's the point for you and for me. Here's the point. You don't get to do whatever you want to do; however you want to do it. He's still the King. That's the point. He's still the King. Therefore, the message is, God's fire, God's way, God's fire, God's way. God has a way. In fact, from the beginning of creation, God has a plan for reconciling sinners to Himself. How is it possible that sinners like you and me can have a relationship to the holy righteous God? How is that possible? God has a plan. That plan is that His Son, His only begotten Son, would die in your place.
Your sins will be removed from you and placed on His Son. What a glorious plan is that, that the sins of sinners can be removed from those sinners and placed on that Son, who will pay the penalty of every one of those sins, that the sinners will be made righteous? This is a great plan. There is no better plan. He says though you laid your hands, just like in the days of Moses, it's just as if you laid your hands on the Son, and that your sins were transferred to Jesus on the cross, and then on the cross, they were paid for in full.
Based on the blood shed on the cross, which therefore Jesus shed, by that blood, God has accepted that blood in your behalf. Therefore, you are accepted, and you're given the right to be called a child of God, with full rights of citizenship in heaven. That's God's plan. That's a glorious plan. That's God's way. There is no other way. God has one plan, and it's a glorious plan, but there is no other plan. That's His plan, and it's glorious.
That's why I love quoting John 14:6. I quote it often because of its powerful point. Jesus said, "I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." That's His plan, and it's a glorious plan. Here's another one verse, just like it. Acts 4:12, "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."
B. Don’t light your own fire
Somebody might hear that and 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 condemnation and judgment fell on His Son on the cross so that sins were paid in full. In other words, you come to God through His Son, or you don't come at all. That's His plan. You come to God through His Son, or you don't come at all, because that's God's plan, which is to say, "Don't light your own fire." Because I tell you what, we live in a day, in an age of self-empowerment. The mantra of the day is self-empowerment. God says, "Don't light your own fire." This is what was wrong with what they offered. They wanted their fire, their way. God has made His way known. God has made His way clear.
There were many portions or passages just like this one in Leviticus 16:12-13. He made it clear, "He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar." That fire that came down that day would be lit continually. Then it says, "With two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, they bring it inside the veil. He shall put incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that's on the Ark of the Testimony, otherwise, he will die." He means this. It's all very important. It's all a message of great significance.
Don't bring strange fire. Well, what is strange fire? Strange fire is anything that's not kindled by God Himself, by the Spirit of God. Isaiah 50:11 brings a similar warning, "Behold all you who kindle a fire, walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled, and this you will have from my hand. You will lie down in sorrow." When we come together and worship God, we actually bring an offering. We're bringing an offering of praise.
When you sing to the Lord, it's an offering. You're giving Him an offering because of all that He's done for you. You want to recognize and give Him honor and give Him praise, and so you give an offering of praise. Now, here's my point, we sing songs. When we worship together, we sing songs that are given by, inspired by, ignited by the Holy Spirit. This is the thing. God sends His Spirit, the fire of the anointing of God is upon those songs because they are anointed by the Spirit. Then when we worship, we worship by the anointing of the Spirit upon those songs. It's a glorious day.
My point is, there's a reason why we don't sing songs by the Rolling Stones in church. Because that would be strange fire. I've always thought their songs were strange, but in church, that's strange fire. You worship by the Holy Spirit. If you've received Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, He has placed the very presence of God among you, the Holy Spirit Himself. The fire of His presence stirs your soul, fills your heart.
In other words, you're giving to God a portion of what He has given to you. That's when you bring an offering. You sing songs that are anointed by the Spirit, and you sing out of the love which the Spirit of God has stirred in your heart, and you give it to God.
C. Honor God as holy
Then we see this, "Honor God as holy." Notice verse three, "Moses said to Aaron, This is what the Lord said. By those who come near me, I will be treated as holy, and before all the people, I will be honored."
Nadab and Abihu were doing this in front of the entire nation of Israel. I will be honored before the people. I was trying to think of an illustration. I was thinking. Imagine if a pastor who's teaching the Word of God, and then uses cuss words to teach the Word of God. Right away, in your soul, you would say, "Oh-oh, no. That is not right. That is not right. A pastor should never be using cuss words to teach the Word of God." Why not? Because God will be honored in this house. Amen. God will be honored.
Many, many years ago, we had this men's retreat. The speaker, he had this great background, men's leadership, and military exploits, and a great reputation. He's speaking at this men's retreat, and I suppose he thought that he would connect more to the men if he used cuss words. My soul was going, "No, no, no." I took him aside afterwards and I said, "Not in this house." God is going to be honored in this house. Amen. This is the point that he makes.
Nadab and Abihu knew what they were doing was against God's instruction. They disregarded what God said and they did what they wanted to do. It was their fire, their way. They didn't honor God as holy. In other words, and here's the point, they gave no weight to His words. They gave no weight to His words. They didn't consider God's instructions as all that important. They gave no weight.
I was thinking of an illustration of that. We raised five kids, and they all learned to drive at one point or another. I was the one who taught all of my kids how to drive. I'll be okay. It's all right.
Before we actually got started, before we even turned the key on, they're sitting in the driver's seat, I'm sitting in the passenger seat, and I give this message, "I am now going to give to you a rule", I say to my 16-year-old youth. "I'm now going to give to you a rule. This is the most important rule. This is the one rule that rules all of the rules, and is this, you must do exactly what I say when I say it. If you're going to learn to drive, you must do exactly what I say when I say it. If you don't do exactly what I say when I say it, your career as a driver is over. Anybody agree with me? Because if you learning to drive, when I say break, you better break."
I tell you what. We want to teach our children, and especially our teenagers that while we love them with an ending love, they must learn to put weight to our words. Because if they don't learn to put weight to our words, they most certainly won't put weight to the words of God. I tell you, this is what's broken in our culture today. This is broken today, children are disrespectful to parents. It's part of a cultural problem. Talk to teachers, they will tell you.
There is something very wrong with what is happening in our culture. Anybody knows it. The problem is real. God, I tell you, God needs to be more revered today. We need to put more weight to His words because the consequences are real.
Let me give you some verses that make that point clear. Galatians 6:7-9. Listen to these introduction words, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked." How's that for an introduction. Those are just straight up powerful words. Why? Why does He say that? What does He say? Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. He says that, so that you'll put weight to His words. Put weight on His words. Don't be deceived, don't deceive yourself. God is not mocked, put weight on this.
Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Put weight on this. For the one who sows to his own flesh, will, from the flesh, reap corruption. Put weight on that. The one who sows to the Spirit will, from the Spirit, reap life even eternal life. Put weight on that. 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, out of Nadab and Abihu. I guess you could say he fired them.
Actually, He did. I don't believe that God necessarily send them to hell, I don't think that's the case. I think He said, "Your time is done. You're no longer going to be the priest, because the message of honoring God must be understood from the beginning. They did this before the entire Nation. Did you know that at one point, that Moses himself did not treat God as Holy, and it came with real consequences. What happened was they come to this place and there was no water and they started grumbling, and actually what we know is that they got disrespectful. They got disrespectful to Moses and they said, "Why did you bring us to this wretched place? There are no vines, there is no pomegranates, there's no figs. There's no water. This is a wretched place. Why did you even bring us out of Egypt?"
Moses and Aaron go to the tent of meeting, they go to Lord, and the Lord says to Moses and Aaron, "We're going to give them water, and this is what we're going to do. You go in front of the people with your staff in your hand, the picture of authority of God, you stand there with the staff in your hand, but you speak to that rock, water, you just simply speak. Water is going to come out." This is a very important scene that's unfolding here because of what happened previously. Some months before this, they had no water and they were grumbling, and God told Moses, "This is what you do, you take the staff and you strike the rock. It's a picture of Christ, isn't it? Because the Scripture tells us that that rock was Christ. It will be struck. He is that rock. He is that foundation. He is the cornerstone, but it will be struck.
On our behalf, Christ was struck, the condemnation, the judgment of God struck Him, and then all of that came living water that refreshes the soul. It's a picture. "Strike the rock", and he did and water came out and the people rejoiced. Here now, God says, "We're going to do it differently. You stand there with your staff, but you just speak." The picture, isn't it? You don't strike the rock. Jesus does not need to be struck again, He was a sacrifice once and for all and paid the sin in its entirety. It is finished, it's completed, no more sacrifice is needed. God has made a way. Anytime you want water, the water of the living Holy Spirit is made available to you simply by the word of God, you ask. It's a great powerful picture, isn't it?
Moses was instructed, you just stand there and you just speak to the rock, but that's not what Moses did. He's angry, they were disrespectful. He stood up in front of the people, had the staff in his hand, and he said, "Listen up you rebels." I'm just suggesting that's usually not a great way to start a speech. He's just angry, he's hot, "Listen up you rebels. Should we bring water out of this rock?" Then he took his staff, and then he struck it twice. Well, that's not what God said. That's not even close to what God said, but God was gracious, and He did to bring water.
Then He said this, Numbers 20:12, "Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, because you have not believed me." That's an interesting phrase, because you have not believed me. That's what happens if a person doesn't put weight, why doesn't a person put weight to the word of God, because they don't believe. It's a lack of faith. That's why people don't put weight on the word of God. It's a lack of faith. He says, "Because you have not believed 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." Moses and Aaron were not going to have the privilege of bringing these people into the land of promise.
Neither one of them did. Moses was given the privilege of seeing it. He went up to Mount Nebo. In fact, when we go September, we're going to go to Mount Nebo, which is in Jordan. He could overlook, and his eyes could reach as far as the Mediterranean, but he could not step into it, because he did not treat God as Holy. This is the application first, by the way. We are in Christ, by the way, we are in Christ. The fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice on the altar is that which fell on Jesus Christ because of our sin, and therefore we are saved from God's wrath. Aren't you thankful for that?
Otherwise, every hypocrisy and inconsistency would find the wrath of God falling down. Aren't you thankful for that? Otherwise you're on the way to church, and you get into a big spat with your spouse about being late, "Why do you always make us late?" "What do you mean me make us late? You're the one who makes us be late!." It happens. I know it happened in California. You're fighting with your spouse on the way to church, and then you come in the doors of the church and the greeter says, "How are you this morning?" You say, "Hallelujah, we're doing wonderfully."
II. Bring God the Fire of Your Heart
Then the fire of God comes down. Aren't you thankful that the fire of God does not come down, Amen. What do you bring?
A. Fire of the heart comes from God
Bring out the fire of your hearts, that's what it says. They brought strange fire. What does God desire? Bring the fire. The fire of the heart comes from God. That was the point. It was the fire that God consumed that sacrifice on the altar. It was to stay there at all times. They were to take that fire and offer incense, represented the prayers of the saints.
That's the fire that they used in their worship. In the same way, we offer to God that fire that He brought into our lives when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, filled with the Spirit of the Living God. Bring that fire. Then it's an interesting thing, He gives us an insight, in verses 8 and 9, that maybe perhaps helps us to understand. The Lord spoke to Aaron, first time the Lord's ever spoke directly to Aaron. He said, "Do not drink wine or strong drink. Neither you nor your sons with you. When you come to the Tent of Meeting, when you minister before me, you will not have imbibed in anything. I want your heart clear, your mind clear."
What an interesting explanation. Many commentators believe that these sons were likely intoxicated, their judgment was impaired. It's interesting because Paul draws a comparison, by being under the influence of wine, and being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It says, in Ephesians chapter five, "Do not get drunk with wine, that's dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." What a picture is that? Because you're going to be under the influence of something, is it be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
When you're under the influence of alcohol, it affects your speech. If you're under the influence of the Holy Spirit, it affects your speech. You start speaking with the words that are anointed of the Spirit. When you're under the influence of alcohol, it affects how you walk, but when you're under the influence of the Holy Spirit, it affects how you walk and how you live and how you move. There's power there. What are you under the influence of? God wants you to be under the fire of the Holy Spirit rather than anything that comes from the Lord, that strange fire.
B. God fights fire with fire
Then lastly, we'll close with this, God fights fire with fire. Honor God by the fire that He put in your heart. Nadab and Abihu, they brought their fire, their way. God rejected it. God rejected them. 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. We need to put more weight to His Words and do things His way. God's fire, God's way. He has a way. He has a way to do marriage. He has a way to do family. He has a way to do business. He has a way to do life. God's fire, God's way.
Proverbs 14:12 says, "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. God's way will bless your life. God's fire, God's way.
We need, today, to have the fire of God consuming our heart. I want to say to you today, maybe you've been in the Lord for a while, and the fire that once firm bright, you let it grow dim. Pray with me today that the fire of the Holy Spirit would reignite your soul. We need to put wait to the Words of God and to honor the fact that His presence is among us. We need His fire and His way. Reignite, reignite. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit to fall on this church. Amen. Our lives be reignited in the Lord.
Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for showing us your heart, your way, your fire, your Holy Spirit. I pray, Lord, for everyone in this room this morning, that we would open our heart to you and say God, reignite. Church, if that is you, if you today would say to the Lord, "I want your fire again." Maybe you've been in the Lord a while, maybe the fire is dimmed. Would you say to the Lord today, "Reignite my soul, pull out freshness, newness of life. Bring the fire of the Holy Spirit, reignite today. I'm asking, O Lord, fill me today." Is that you church? Would you say that to the Lord? Would you just open your heart and ask for that today?
I want to ask that you would just lift up your hand and say it to the Lord today. "God, your fire, your way. Reignite my soul." Just raise your hand to the Lord. God bless you. God bless you. Anyone else? Reignite my soul today, Lord. Bring revival to me, to my family, to my marriage. To my life, to my heart. Father, thank You for pouring out your life upon us. We give you thanks and we give you honor in Jesus name.