The Cross And Strange Fire
The fires of true worship must come from the brazen altar, a type of the Cross of Christ, and no other source. The Cross itself is a place of judgment where the power and penalty of sin was broken. Is it any wonder Paul said, "I GLORY IN THE CROSS?" Were it not for the Cross there would not be any world today; God would have already had to have destroyed mankind. The only thing that has stopped the judgment upon man is the cross because the judgment on sin came upon God's only begotten son. That is why the false doctrine that is so rampant in the church today is so hellish. It's man's effort to devise another sacrifice so he does not have to come under the rod and sentence of the cross which says "all have sinned." The cross is an OFFENSE to the world and sadly, an offense to the modern church. Because of religious pride, Men always reject the cross, not on theological grounds, but on moral ones. This is the real reason and problem Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, died at the base of the door of the tabernacle. Their rebellion, unbelief and ignorance led to this tragedy that faces us unless we repent and repent quickly.
By Chris McDonald
TEXT: Leviticus 10:1 - And Nadab and
Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein,
and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he
commanded them not.
Before I get into this journal, I would like to share with you the words of someone I believe to be a prophetic voice from the recent past the modern church would do well and wise to listen to - A.W. Tozer. He wrote this pamphlet entitled, "The Old Cross and the New Cross" in 1963, a few months actually before he died. Tozer was respected by many of his evangelical contemporaries but their respect for him was not a respect in the sense many liked what he had to say. Most did not and for the most part rejected his fiery words. As you read this I pray the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the 21rst Century church as well:
"ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental. From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.
The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.
The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.
The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner anal jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrill seeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship." The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.
The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.
The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.
We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him.
What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.
Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ. To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God's approval.
Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.
May the Lord bless the words of His servant.
I want to take you back to a sad chapter in the history of Israel and the life of her first great high priest -Aaron. Aaron had four sons in all:
Nadab and Abihu were part of the company of 70 that accompanied Moses to a banquet with God on Sinai (Exodus 24:1-11). This in itself is a lesson to us in the modern church world that supernatural experiences in themselves do not make good Christians. Despite seeing God in person, these two wound up dead after disobeying God not many weeks following. We need more than a "touch" and a "buzz" in our church services neighbor. That's not revival. People need the TRUTH in the power and person of Christ who alone can set men free. It's the TRUTH that will destroy the bondages and shackles of sin. The truth is not doctrinal arguments; the truth is a PERSON - the Lord Jesus Christ! Glory to God.
- And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and
Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.  And
Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither
shall the people go up with him.  And Moses came and told the people
all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered
with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. 
And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and
builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve
tribes of Israel.  And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which
offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.
 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the
blood he sprinkled on the altar.  And he took the book of the covenant, and
read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said
will we do, and be obedient.  And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on
the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made
with you concerning all these words.
The fire of God's presence must come from the brazen altar and no other source. The brazen altar was the altar of sacrifice and is a type of the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Calvary covers it all. No one could pass further into the Holy Place except they come to the brazen altar FIRST. It was the first article of furniture you saw when looking at the Tabernacle of Moses. It was also the first item you saw when you witnessed the daily ministration of the Temple of Solomon as well. But even after one went past the brazen altar, all ministry of the Tabernacle and Temple rested upon the blood upon that altar. The blood taken into the Holy Place and sprinkled upon the altar of incense was from the brazen altar. The same blood was then taken into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled onto the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. ALL MINISTRY STARTED AND ENDED with the brazen altar. It's the same principle today.
The cross of Christ where salvation's plan was accomplished and finished was not the place of the greatest defeat in history as some misguided and moronic preachers speak of today. (GOD HELP US).
Andrew Murray says of the cross, "that the work there for us derives its value from the inner nature of the Lord, of which the cross was the greatest outward expression of love, power and grace." The Cross is where man's sinful nature and the powers of darkness were judged by God Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. God's wrath was upon all humanity as a result of the fall. Paul called it "enmity," in Ephesians, and it was such an enmity that God spent nearly 3500 years illustrating through Israel's sacrificial system of blood sacrifice what would ultimately come through Messiah's death. Were it not for the cross there would not be any world today.
There is a difference between the world that does not know God and those who claim to know Him. All of the illustrating sacrifices were illustrating was that God was preparing Israel for the coming Redeemer who would one day put an end to man's sinful nature, for those who would but believe and trust in what He would do at Calvary. Israel's destruction was kept back by only ONE thing - THE CROSS. The nation didn't recognize all the sacrificial system as pointing to that. Even the disciples never caught it until after it happened. But that was the ultimate purpose of the Tabernacle.
That is why false doctrine in the church today, especially the 'Jesus died spiritually doctrine,' is so hellish. It's man's effort to devise another sacrifice other than the sacrifice of Christ. When Ken Copeland says things like "anyone could have died for humanity," and people all over the church world hear that and applaud it without rebuke, we are offering up "strange fire." Whenever we look to another sacrifice for our sanctification and deliverance we commit spiritual adultery and in essence offer up "strange fire," to God just like Nadab and Abihu did 3500 years ago. This act of defiance made God angry to the point that a lightning bolt sprang forth from the Holy of Holies and struck both of Aaron's sons dead on the spot. Let that sink in. And not only did God strike them dead, but demanded those around the Holy Place to not even shed a tear over their death, which I will get to more in a minute.
Rebellion is never blessed by God. God is not happy with it one iota and His judgment will fall upon those who refuse to repent and continually offer up strange fire. God is VERY concerned about our walk and growth in Him as believers.
And while God's power allows Him to do ALL things, His nature prohibits Him from doing others. He can never bless sin. Sin has always been more than just an act, itís a nature. When Adam fell, it affected the entire NATURE of every single human being who would be born after him. (Romans 5:17-21). As a result, the remedy for sin had to be more than just something that dealt with individual acts. The Law served as the guidebook to tell us what acts were sinful but it gave us no power to stop the acts from being commited. When the nature is wrong, the product will be wrong. If the root is evil friend, the fruit is going to be evil. If the root is good, the fruit will be good.
Man's sin would require a sacrifice that removed the very nature of Satan from humanity. That's why all the education in the world can't change you mister..That's why all the money and prestige in the world cannot save you sir. That's why joining a church, being baptized, singing in the choir and being a member in good standing will NOT CHANGE YOU. Salvation means the end of sinís power and dominion over us and the believerís identification with Christís death, burial and resurrection gives us assurance of victory over sin. When we identify with Christ, the HOLY SPIRIT comes in and makes the cross's work a reality in our lives where sin no longer "REIGNS" in our mortal bodies. Oh, Glory to God. This is the doctrine Paul tells us in Romans 6:17 that we have believed from the heart:
Romans 6:12-14 - Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
The cross is an OFFENSE to the world. It's an offense to prideful man. Nadab and Abihu's actions were in reality saying to God, "we don't recognize the work of the brazen altar." "We can do this 'our' way." And that is the arrogant stench of modern day Christianity. We preach a gospel void of power because it is a message void of the CROSS.
Paul said the "preaching of the Cross IS the power of God. Notice he didn't say the preaching of the resurrection, or the gifts of the Spirit, or the miracles of CHrist, but the preaching of the CROSS is the power of God.
1:18-24 - For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;
but unto us which are saved it is the
power of God.  For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the
wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.  Where is
the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God
made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God
the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe.  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek
after wisdom:  But we preach Christ
crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks
foolishness;  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God, and
the wisdom of God.
Willful Ignorance Leads To Death
17:30 - And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth
all men every where to repent:
And that ladies and gentlemen hangs over the 21rst Century church like a horrible mantle. It's why our people are dying by the scores and even more regrettable a result of our folly is that a world sits in unbelief because they see very little of the true risen Christ among us. Jesus said "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto ME." We are lifting up everything BUT Christ in these last days because we are offering up "strange fire," before the Lord. Christ crucified has unfortunately lost it's power because we simply no longer preach the message of the cross. Not to sound redundant, but to state it again, when we hear phrases like "we must get beyond the cross and go on to the upper room," and/or "this is not a cross religion, but a throne-room religion" that is "another gospel. Paul said if even an ANGEL comes in preaching such foolishness and false doctrine - let him be damned. That is strong language but that is exactly what the original Greek word in Galatians 2:2:
This is a strong statement, but it is clearly understandable. You cannot separate the church from the cross AND the Holy Spirit. If you exalt the cross without the Holy Spirit you wind up into dead religion and legalism. If you exalt the Holy Spirit without the cross you will wind up with fanaticism, but in reality you wind up with what Nadab and Abihu wound up with - "strange fire." Fire is a type of the Holy Ghost but that fire must come from the brazen altar. The brazen altar is a type of the cross and any move of the Holy Spirit that is truly from God will ALWAYS have the cross as its focus. Every single true revival of the past always had the cross as it's message, nothing else. Why? Because it is at the CROSS where the powers of darkness were destroyed and the LEGAL block between God and Man was broken. In other words, it was at the cross where the price was paid for man to have God dwell within his heart and life forever through the power of the person of the Holy Ghost.
Offering up strange fire by preachers of false gospels who are accursed is a sign we're living in the last of the last days. The apostasy has set in. .The gospel is the means by which men are saved out of the grip of sin, death, and condemnation. Without the gospel no person is savedóno person can become acceptable to Godóno person can inherit eternal life. Scripture is clear about the matter and warns all false teachers and all churches.
The Bible is silent about what Nadab and Abihu were thinking prior to doing this horrendous act. Some scholars believe the two siblings simply didn't believe God meant what He said and said what He meant. Others believe their sin was a result of unbelief in general. There is one school of thought that says the two got drunk, took God's work lightly, and thought, "what's the difference?" "So what if we take a coal from the altar of incense and burn it on the brazen altar. Fire is fire," they believed. That's what we hear today so much - "church is church," we're 'all going to the same place." We're all "worshipping the same God, the same way." "It doesn't matter what type music and worship we have, as long as we put religious lyrics on it."
But worship that is not rooted in the cross is false worship and it will do nothing but generate death. That is what a majority of the contemporary Christian community offers to the youth in our churches today. The motive is not uplifting the finished work of Christ, but uplifting self. Some of the music is so ungodly that the very pastors who host these "Christian rock concerts," in their churches don't even show up themselves but leave the sheep alone to be sheared by these wolves in sheep clothing. That's a hireling. I'm not telling you what type of music to listen to or not listen to neighbor, but I can assure you of this. If the HOLY GHOST is not in charge of worship you will be lead into sensuous worship, which is strange fire and it will cause the same results and what happened so long ago to Aaron's sons.
God's presence is like an electric wire. His presence runs everything we do today but if we handle this wrong it will kill us. Electricity mishandled will kill you. There are preachers today in some churches who are not even saved. Don't mention the cross, don't mention salvation, nothing happens; they're deader than doornails. If a mouse squeaked, half the church would drop dead of heart failure. If a hearse come in to carry out the dead, they'd go through half the deacon board before they got to the corpse. That's not the kind of church I'm referring to. I'm referring to those churches where the people and preacher ARE saved and have gotten a hold of the greatest blessing in the world. It is in these churches today were the greatest danger lies because having the more blessing we have means the greatest judgment if we substitute the cross for something else. Worship, Prosperity, the faith message, the baptism in the Holy Ghost are all Biblically sound doctrines. But when we preach these without having their focus anchored in the cross, they become "strange fire."
I will continue these thoughts in part two of this journal. I want to stop here and close with a warning to the church of this age. We hold an entire generation in our hands. It's no surprise that Satan has saved his greatest inward attack for the LAST generation on earth prior to the Lord's return. He has unleashed a spirit of deception unlike anytime in human or church history. We must return to the cross of Christ and the preaching of the cross of Christ. The inward quality of our character depends on it. The inward revival we all seek depends on it. The harvest of this last generation depends on it. Christ carried the cross all his life in His heart. That was His purpose in coming to earth so that man's sin debt could be paid and we could be free from the penalty and the power of the plight of hell. In doing so, He garnered "access" for all into the Father's presence through the Holy Spirit, who is ever working and helping to bring the power of the finished work of our Lord into focus and reality in our lives. Our message is not some fascination with an "object," like some mystical talisman; it's focus is on the work that the cross accomplished in HIM, yet the work through Him must yet be accomplished in us also. That's why He died, was buried and rose again the third day. Glory to God. We too must follow Him to Calvary so we can truly live.
As A.W. Tozer wrote it, "how dare we, the heirs of the legacy tamper with this great doctrine with our stubby pencils," and may I add our arrogant, deceived minds and hearts?
Strange fire, strange fire, strange fire; it will always lead to death. In our next journal we will take a deeper look at this story and show you how Nadab and Abihu's offering of strange fire came partly from their inability to discern between common and holy fire, which is a serious issue in the modern church today.
Let's pray: Heavenly Father, we come to You today in Jesus name, THANKING you for the great sacrifice You made for us through the sending of Your Son, Jesus Christ to this earth to die for us. He was our SUBSTITUTE, having never sinned, having never committed one single act of disobedience to you, thereby securing eternal salvation for all. I thank you Lord Jesus that you are MY substitute. May we ever worship you through the blood of the brazen altar and never allow any other worship to come from us except that which exalts the cross and Your finished work. May our incense on the brazen altar of worship be with coals from a repentant, humble heart that a sweet-smelling savor will come forth from our lips. We ask that in Jesus name, Amen.