The Flesh Doesn't Profit: Leviticus 10:1-3

Leviticus 10:1‑3  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Every time man has been put in a place of responsibility he has always failed. There are no exceptions to this rule, for there is absolutely no good in man by nature. The Word of God tells us this so definitely, for it says, “The flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:6363It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)) and again, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:1818For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (Romans 7:18)). This is exactly what is exemplified in our chapter which has many necessary and important lessons for us in our day, when man is exalting himself as never before.
Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, had seen the offering of the sacrifices. In the previous chapter they had seen the glory of the Lord appear to the people. Moreover, they themselves were in a special place of favor, for they were anointed priests to the Lord, but in spite of all this they had unbroken wills. They acted upon their own thoughts and rejected the command of the Lord. The fire to be used in the censer of incense was to come from the brazen altar (Leviticus 16:1212And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: (Leviticus 16:12)), and no other fire would do. Perhaps they did not know why the fire must come from that one place and no other, but it should have been enough that God had commanded it. We must never reason when God speaks, for He demands the submission of our minds to His revelation (2 Corinthians 10:55Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5)).
What Is Suited to God
What a voice this should be to many in our day who are choosing their own way of approach to God. They may be in high positions in the religious world and even wear Judaistic robes as Aaron’s sons did, but the place Aaron’s sons were in did not exempt them from the judgment — in fact, it was the very cause for such a solemn, open display of God’s judgment upon them.
God said, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will be glorified” (Leviticus 10:33Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:3)). This is very solemn indeed and should cause searching of heart on the part of any who come before God as worshippers, whether leaders or otherwise. lt is most important that we come in God’s way and not with any “strange fire” of our own choosing. It is not a question here of whether Nadab and Abihu were men of faith or not, but of what is suited to God. There is no incense that is sweet to God except that which speaks of Christ, and so the fire must come from the brazen altar where the burnt offerings were sacrificed. There we see Christ, in type, as the One who glorified God about sin, and true worship must begin with that fact.
God’s Mind in the Beginning
When God sets something up, He shows His mind at the first, judging the first outbreak of sin. We see this in our chapter as well as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, for in both cases they were smitten dead before the Lord because of their sin. Now God does not deal in open judgment, generally, but let us never suppose that because He does not do so, His thoughts about sin have changed. At the judgment seat of Christ for believers, and at the great white throne for the lost, He will manifest His own thoughts as to everything in our lives. For believers it will be to see all that was not done in accordance with God’s Word burned up, while they themselves will be saved through Christ’s redemptive work (1 Corinthians 3:1515If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15)). For the unsaved, it will be to hear those awful words, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:4141Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (Matthew 25:41)).
For Further Meditation
1. What did Nadab and Abihu do that God didn’t approve of?
2. “Strange fire” may seem like an odd expression, but it simply means that Nadab and Abihu didn’t get the fire to burn their incense from the brazen altar. What lesson does that teach us about our worship to God? Why should it be done God’s way when we live in a day where so much has changed from when the Bible was written?
3. Worship should always be carried out according to God’s plan and not man’s. A good overview of how His Spirit leads in worship can be found in the booklet Five Letters on Worship and Ministry in the Spirit by W. Trotter.