In Leviticus, we see the story of Nadab and Abihu. During this time, there was a traveling altar of sacrifice, as Moses and the children of Israel were traveling to the Promised Land. They carried the Ark of the Covenant with them as well. Moses and his brother Aaron had just gotten done giving their sacrifice to the Lord. They had brought their censers with their blood sacrifice and incense and placed them upon the altar. God Himself provided the fire consuming the offering showing that He not only approved of the offering but also was blessing the people, including Moses and Aaron. Afterwards, the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu came to make their offering to the Lord. The sons came with their censors and their offering along with incense. However, there was a distinct difference. When their offering was placed upon the altar, it already had fire in it; a fire that they created themselves. It was strange: unauthorized, foreign, and profane. God Himself always brought the fire, it was holy fire. He didn’t need any help. Because this fire was not of God and it offended Him so, the Lord consumed the two men with fire. They disobeyed the instructions of God. They were to bring their offering and prepare it the way He instructed and He would provide the fire. Their carelessness and disregard for the holiness of God cost them their lives. God was not going to allow their disobedience to set a precedent for future disregard of His Law.
Let’s go back further. Look at Cain and Abel. Abel brought an offering to the Lord and the Lord saw that it was good and honored it. Yet He did not honor Cain’s offering. On the surface, there was nothing wrong with the offering, he had brought the first fruits of his labor. However, without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sins. His offering was of the fruit of the ground, whereas Abel was a hunter and offered up a blood sacrifice. Instead of finding an animal that he could offer up for his offering to become acceptable, Cain became prideful and refused to accept the rejection of God. He took his offense out on his perceived rival, his brother Abel. I am sure that Cain worked hard on his crops and he was proud of them. He was so proud of what he could produce on his own, that he could not see what God was trying to produce in him. Obedience produces character, and so does chastisement. God’s chastisement was meant to be a form of correction to get Cain to see where he erred, but Cain was so stuck in his feelings that he couldn’t see that. All he could see was his offense.
Are you bringing strange fire as an offering to the Lord? What I mean by that is, is the offering about you and what you can do, or is it about what God can and is doing? You can’t bring an offering to the Lord that isn’t God centered. You’re offering can’t be about what you can do in your own power, but about what God can do through you. God knows what you can do, He doesn’t need you to show off. Are you being obedient when you bring your offering? Or are you bringing it out of habit or obligation, something to mark off of your to do list? It’s not only what you give that matters, but how you give it.
You can’t give grudgingly. God created you. Do you not think that He would know what’s in your heart? He knows what our attitude is. We can’t offer something up to Him that is not worthy of Him. God is serious when it comes to honoring and glorifying Him, look at Aaron’s sons. Your offering can’t be done in vain. God is the “Real Deal”, there is nothing about Him that is fake or just for show. Nothing He does is counterfeit. Don’t come to Him with counterfeit worship.