Unauthorized Worship
by Joel Raulerson

"By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified" (Lev. 10:3). This was the powerful admonition of the Lord after consuming Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, with fire for offering "unauthorized fire" before the Lord, which the Lord had not commanded them (Lev. 10:1-2).

The ultimate sin that Nadab and Abihu were guilty of is being presumptuous in their worship. God must be regarded as holy by those who come near Him and before all the people He must be glorified. When we choose to act carelessly in our worship and not treat the Lord with reverence, we are offering unauthorized worship to God. Nadab and Abihu presumed to do something in worship to the Lord that God had not commanded them to do. God will never accept such worship (Matt. 15:9). If we do the same as Nadab and Abihu today and presume to worship God in ways that we think best rather than as He commands, we too will be separated from God (Isa. 59:1-2). The wages of our sins today are the same as Nadab and Abihu's, death (Rom. 6:23). Also, we need to remember the silence of God. When God specifies how something is to be done, or what is to be used, we have no right to change it. If Nadab and Abihu had done as God commanded they would have never had to face the fire God sent down.

God chose to make examples of Nadab and Abihu (1 Cor. 10:11), since the role of the priesthood was incredibly important under the Mosaic Law. As we can see from such books as the book of Malachi, if the priests failed to honor God in their role, the people of God would surely follow. The cascading effect inevitably proved disastrous to the people of Israel.

As a "holy priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices" in Christ Jesus, we would do well to heed the lesson God gave through Nadab and Abihu (1 Pet. 2:4-5)! How easy it is to think we do well by offering up that "which the Lord has not commanded" us. When we start adding things to our worship like instrumental music, comedy routines, and shows, we are doing that which "the Lord has not commanded." There is no excuse if we get excited to serve God and merely do things we think sounds good. This was the case with Nadab and Abihu and throughout the scriptures (2 Sam. 7; Acts 5:1-11). We must worship God in the way He has commanded (John 4:24; Acts 2:42). We cannot carelessly approach God in worship, not regarding Him as holy and worthy of glory. Thus, let us examine our worship before God carefully and make sure that what we offer is indeed what God expects (2 Cor. 13:5). There is indeed a fire that awaits us if we choose not to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and do not worship God as He has commanded (2 Thess. 1:8). That will be a far worse fire than the one Nadab and Abihu faced. 

- The Old Paths, 9/24/17