I. THE LESSON OF NADAB AND ABIHU
In 10:1-11 we have the lesson of Nadab and Abihu. The consuming of Nadab and Abihu probably took place at the end of the day of glory and blessing described in chapter nine. What happened to these two sons of Aaron is surely a lesson for us today.
A. Nadab and Abihu Offering Strange Fire before Jehovah
“The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer and put fire in it, and placed incense upon it, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them” (v. 1). This signifies man’s natural enthusiasm, natural affection, natural strength, and natural ability offered to God.
Nadab and Abihu were not judged because they did something that was not for God. They were judged because they acted according to the natural life. They did something for God, but they did it in a natural way. They might have loved God, but they loved Him in a natural way.
We should be burning for the Lord and hot; however, our hotness should not be natural but spiritual. We progress from being natural to being spiritual by taking the way of the cross. Whatever we are in the natural life should be crossed out. The natural man has already been crucified with Christ. Now in our Christian life and walk we need to hold the attitude that our natural man has been crucified and must be set aside. Since the natural life has already been condemned, we should condemn it today. We need to realize that our natural man has been judged by God on the cross, and for this reason it should not be regarded or honored.
Our serving in the church and our testifying in the meetings can easily be natural. If we speak in the meetings in a natural way, we will offer strange, or common, fire, and this will bring in spiritual death. Whenever we testify in a natural way, our being is deadened, and the meeting with its atmosphere also is deadened.
We all need to learn not to touch the holy things of God with the natural life. Not only should the things be right, but the way should also be right. It is not adequate simply to do the right thing. We must do the right thing in the right way. To offer strange fire to God is to do the right thing in the wrong way, and this brings in the judgment of death.
It is not easy to be purified from being natural. We may often exercise our natural enthusiasm, natural affection, natural strength, or natural ability. Everything natural in us needs to be dealt with.
The life of Moses is an illustration of dealing with the natural man. Moses said that “the days of our years are threescore years and ten” and that “by reason of strength” they may be fourscore years (Psa. 90:10). According to his understanding, the age of eighty marks the end of man’s life. It is significant, therefore, that Moses was called by God when he was eighty years old. This indicates that Moses’ natural life had come to an end and that whatever he did for God was in resurrection. At the age of eighty Moses had a new beginning, and from then on he did not act according to his natural life but according to a resurrection spirit.
Regardless of our age, we all need to learn not to do or say things with the natural strength, by the natural ability, or for the natural affection. We must regard everything natural as a snake, a poison.
The fire offered by Nadab and Abihu was common fire; it was not fire from the altar. The fire from the altar, having touched the offerings, was holy and also sanctified. However, Nadab and Abihu did not offer such a sanctified and sanctifying fire but a common fire. This fire was not from Jehovah but from man; it was not from the heavens but from the earth, and it had no base of propitiation. Without propitiation the situation between man and God cannot be appeased. Rather, the problems between man and God remain.
Due to the influence of Catholicism and Protestantism, many Christians today are loose and careless concerning the worship and service of God. They do not take this worship and service seriously, and the result is the exercise of the natural life issuing in spiritual death.
(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 33, by Witness Lee)