Saturday, October 06, 2007

Strange Fire on Defiled Altars

[Moses' brother Aaron served as High Priest.  Part of Aaron's duties were delegated to his four sons.  God gave Moses specific recipes and procedures for incense and other offerings and forbade the use of any other.  Following the commanded recipes and procedures was vital because the ingredients and many of the steps symbolized heavenly truths.  Next thing you know, two of Aaron's sons offered "strange fire" and were immediately zapped by God. 
The account illustrates the necessity of doing things God's way.  Americans accept a lot of strange fire such as musicians offering seductive performances or visceral music in the name of worship.  When J. Lee Grady worries about charismatic charlatans, it's a bit ironic because the extreme illustrates the moderate.  Nevertheless, what Grady has to say below is very interesting.  --  rw]
Strange Fire on Defiled Altars
J. Lee Grady
Charisma +online (e-mail newsletter)
5 October 2007
Many who claim to be voices for God today are on dangerous ground.

We don't talk much today about Nadab and Abihu. They were obscure Bible characters who failed miserably. Certainly their tragic story doesn't work well as an illustration in the typical seeker-friendly sermon about wealth or success. So we tend to ignore these guys, even though they are mentioned in the Old Testament nine times.

Both sons of Aaron the priest, Nadab and Abihu were suddenly struck dead in the tabernacle because they offered "strange fire" (Lev. 10:1 NASB). We aren't told exactly what they did wrong—that is left to our imagination. All we know is that they did not follow God's specific instructions when offering incense. They were careless with His glory. Their mistake proved to be fatal.

What I deduce from their story is that God's altar is a holy place. When God struck them, He told their father: "'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'" (v. 3). God made it clear that He isn't playing games. He sent fire from His presence to slay Nadab and Abihu so we would understand that we can't mess around with His laws, His name or His presence. We can't rewrite His instructions or be slipshod or slapdash about worship.

That's why I fear for many of the men and women who claim to be God's mouthpieces today, particularly in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement that I serve. When I read Leviticus 10, I wonder why the ground has not opened up and swallowed some of the careless spiritual clowns who are masquerading as bishops, apostles and prophets.

A case in point: Bishop Thomas Wesley Weeks III, who is now facing charges of assaulting his wife, recently stood in his pulpit in Atlanta during a marriage conference and proceeded to teach married couples how to use profanity during sex.

Yes, the man who allegedly kicked and punched Juanita Bynum in a hotel parking lot last month told attendees at a "Teach Me How to Love You" event that they should get over their hang-ups about cussing. The bedroom, he said, is the place to get down and dirty.

"Don't bring your salvation into the bedroom," he said in a sermon segment that has been posted on YouTube. "All those special words that you can't say no more because you're saved … save that for the bedroom!"

It is bad enough that Weeks told his followers that it's OK to use filthy language with your wife during lovemaking. It's worse that he said these things as a minister speaking from a pulpit during a church service. Thankfully he didn't bring a bed on stage and give a demonstration—but now that he has taken pulpit crudity to a new level, someone else is sure to introduce Pentecostal porn to an audience somewhere.

Weeks' comments didn't surprise me. There are so many crazy things happening in pulpits in this country that I've become numb to their impact. It seems that in many segments of the church today, false prophets and backslidden preachers can introduce the most bizarre doctrines imaginable and still get shouts from the crowd and plenty of donations in the offering plate.

Meanwhile, a growing number of television preachers are resorting to the most inane tactics to raise money. A popular trend this year is the "Day of Atonement Offering"—in which Old Testament scriptures are strained to the breaking point to make a case for buying special blessings from God. Thanks to this "revelation," you can click on a Web site icon and give your Day of Atonement Offering to win divine favor. (And of course every dime of that money goes to an evangelist who uses it to purchase houses, cars, plastic surgeries and more airtime so they can spread this nonsense to more naïve people.)

I have no personal vendetta against these spiritual hoodlums, but lately I find myself praying: "Lord, when will You clean up Your church? When will you send Your holy fire into the sanctuary? When will You turn over the tables of the moneychangers and drive the charlatans out of Your house?"

I have a sense that the answer is coming soon enough. The question is: How close to the modern Nadabs and Abihus will you be when the fire of heaven comes to purge them from the sanctuary? If you are anywhere near a defiled altar, my advice is simple: Run for the nearest exit.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

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