Learning from Nadab and Abihu

Learning From Nadab and Abihu

Numbers 3:4 states, “And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord…”  The topic of our examination appears from this verse: Nadab and Abihu.  They died in the presence of, in the face of, or before the Lord.  The occasion involved an offering and the offering was strange.  The Hebrew term for strange means, “foreign, estranged, loathsome, or profane.”  What brought Nadab and Abihu to the presence of the Lord?  They had brought fire before the Lord for the purpose of worship.

Nadab and Abihu, regardless of intention, did not obey or please God.

Nadab and Abihu, regardless of intention, did not obey or please God.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therin, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.  Then 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” (Lev. 10:1-3).

This passage makes it clear God did not command the fire Nadab and Abihu offered.  God never suggested, requested, or authorized it.  Thus, Moses describes the fire as profane or loathsome.  Of great importance is the fact that the passage states Nadab and Abihu did not die from an accident with the fire.  They died when God purposely sent fire to devour them.  Moses provided the reason God acted in such a fashion to destroy Nadab and Abihu.  When individuals go before God, He requires glorification and sanctification.  Sanctification means treating something as set apart or holy.  Glorification means to make honorable.  Nadab and Abihu dishonored God with their behavior.

The issues presented by their actions for examination revolve around mankind’s treatment of God, the importance of God’s commands, and the intentions of mankind.

“Be ye holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16)

The concept of sanctification and holiness relates to more than purity or being without sin.  God first used the term holy in Exodus 3:5 when He called a certain ground holy.  Ordinary and common cannot describe holy.  Approaching holiness requires reverence.  Reverence sees holiness and treats it with respect, humility, and even fear.  Fear closely draws to its side the knowledge that the individual cannot be equal to, but rather stands lacking in cleanness, stature, or quality to that which is holy.  Nadab and Abihu failed in this respect.  They approached their Creator in a manner which did not revere Him.  Their approach to worship treated God as nothing more than common.

Consider this.  If the sanctification and glorification of God stands so critical that the consequence of its absence meant death, how ought mankind approach God today?  Does the phrase casual worship service seem inappropriate?  Perhaps consider the irreverence of checking and sending texts and e-mail during worship.  If Moses approached the holy ground in his sandals toting along snacks and sipping on a latte or soda, would God have shown pleasure?

God does not stand on equal footing with a movie, picnic, or other common event.  Being in the presence of God is not a come-as-you-are event.  God is holy!  Nadab and Abihu failed to treat Him so.  We should draw from their example and not behave in the same fashion.

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)

The wind and the sea obey God.  Unclean spirits obey Him.  Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were punished.  The world disobeyed God and were destroyed, save eight souls.  Sodom and Gomorrah disobeyed God and God destroyed them.  Israel disobeyed God and He punished them in many ways from diseases, to wandering in the wilderness, to captivity, even to death itself.  Uzzah, like Nadab and Abihu, lost his life disobeying the commands of God.  Paul chastised the apostle Peter and the Galatian Christians for failing to obey the commands of God.  2 Thessalonians 1:8 declares destruction on those who do not obey God, while Jesus stands as the author of salvation to those who do obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).  Why would anyone disobey God willingly?  Yet, this is exactly what Nadab and Abihu did.

Many people today despise following God’s commands, even some within religious bodies bearing His name.  They feel as if God provided His commandments as mere suggestions, used as guidelines, bendable depending on the situation.  Those who desire to follow God’s Word as it was given actively find themselves victims of mockery and shaming by others.  A favorite and misused term which others apply to them is legalist.  The American Heritage Dictionary defines legalism as “strict adherence to the law.”  This sounds exactly like what God desires throughout the entire Bible.  When they stood before the Sanhedrin, the apostles declared obedience to God rather than to men.  Why would they do so if obedience to commands was subjective?

Now, one might quote Matthew 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, ’I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,’ for I am come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Upon reading, they would declare that God never desired exact obedience.  Yet, all Scripture shows He most definitely did desire obedience.  Contextually, Christ identified that one aspect of the law cannot be dropped and that individual still be pleasing to God.  One cannot worship without spirit and truth.  If a person goes through the motions of obedience in physical acts, but not obedience to a pure and holy spiritual nature, the physical acts presented to God result in God’s dissatisfaction.  He will not desire the sacrifice!

In view of Nadab and Abihu, they presented worship to God.  One might think that God would be thrilled with the “spiritual” demonstration of these individual’s hearts.  Yet, He rejected their worship because it failed to follow His commands.  In so doing, Nadab and Abihu demonstrated disdain in their worship rather than love for God.  They disobeyed and treated God in a profane manner.  Paul declared in his letter to Rome, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).  Learn from Nadab and Abihu’s example of disobedience.

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”  (James 2:20)

Grease fires break out while cooking on occasion.  Good, well-intentioned individuals frequently take action to attempt to put out the fire with water.  This can result in the fire spreading further because “water and oil don’t mix.”  Good intentions do not by themselves result in God’s pleasure.

Nadab and Abihu worshiped God.  Worship indicates a desire to please.  Yet, they attempted to present worship on their terms.  They presented as Can did, who when presenting his offering to the Lord did not do so in faith.  The so-called faith of those who present worship to God is dead if the works are guided by intention and not truth.  God will be treated as holy and will be obeyed.  No matter of intent (again, see Uzzah) will cause God to smile on a worshipful action not requested.

God declared through the apostle Paul that preaching saves.  Jesus commanded the proclamation of the gospel to all creation.  Yet, men in their good intentions decided to present God’s truths through acting and drama rather than proclamation. God declared that man sing as one body to Him in worship.  Yet, the intentions of man to worship in song resulted in playing instruments, choral groups, and praise teams with handclapping rather than what God commanded.  Will God be glorified with such behavior?  Will He be sanctified when His commandments are ignored?  Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of His life, death and resurrection.  The first-century church partook of this on the first day of the week.  Paul exhorted the Corinthians to take it properly and not treat it as a common meal.  Yet, through the intentions of man the Lord’s Supper is not taken every first day of the week in many places.  It is taken yearly, quarterly, monthly, or on special occasion.  In many places the Supper is offered with leavened break, water, or in the midst of a meal.  Is the intention worship?  These behaviors result in will worship condemned by Paul (Col. 2:23).  If Nadab and Abihu, guided by good intentions to worship God, could not worship Him in a pleasing fashion, what makes men think they can today?

As Paul exhorted the Christian regarding the Scriptures written beforehand, man can learn from Nadab and Abihu how to properly worship God.  Christians treat God as holy.  Christians love Him by obeying His commands.  Do not follow your intentions, Christians.  Follow the truth.

Posted in Travis Main | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Learning from Nadab and Abihu

Lessons about Social Media

16 Lessons I’m Teaching my Kids About Social Media

Twenty years ago I would not have ever considered writing about social media—as it did not exist. Today it impacts almost everyone under the age of fifty. Even many people in their 60s and 70s are jumping on social media to keep up with their grandchildren. Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users. In the first quarter of this year Twitter averaged 328 monthly active users. This is a massive influence in our culture—and yet, the church has been slow to respond to it.

Social media is impacting the society of today and tomorrow.

Social media is impacting the society of today and tomorrow.

How is it impacting your children or grandchildren? A study in March 2017 revealed that frequent use of multiple social media platforms caused feelings of social isolation. Think about that for a moment. We are the most connected generation of all time—yet we are more isolated that ever before. Many young people have lots of “Virtual” friends, but few real friends. Research published December 10, 2016 showed that using social media is associated with depression and anxiety. Add to this that suicide in young people is up 13% since 2010. Most scholars point to social media as the causative factor for this dramatic increase.

Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about social media. 

Your mom and dad grew up in a simpler time. We weren’t bombarded with dings and vibrations from a phone alerting us of every new Instagram or Facebook post. We had friends-real friends, who we rode bikes with-friends who were not constantly putting only their very best highlight reels out there for everyone to see. Social media is amazing in that you can instantly be connected to hundreds or thousands of people. You have information at the tips of your fingers. However, these conveniences can be intensely distracting and can get in the way of our duty to glorify God. Allow me to share several lessons I hope you will learn regarding social media.

Lesson One: Be careful—social media is addicting. Make no doubt about it, social media has been engineered to be as habit forming as crack cocaine. If you are going to use it then you need to have discipline and war against spending endless hours surfing your friends posts. “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Lesson Two: Constantly ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time? You have responsibilities. As a servant for Christ you have additional responsibilities. Set limits and have some time you turn it completely off. James wrote “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Lesson Three: Walk in the Spirit not the flesh! Be careful as social media feeds the flesh. It enlivens your emotions and carnal nature. It is easy to step into social media and get swept away by the flesh. Paul warned, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17).

Lesson Four: Do not miss out on the joy of face-to-face contact. As humans we read body language. It tells us a great deal about the tone and feelings behind a particular conversation. You can’t get that with social media. “Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face-to-face, that our joy may be full” (2 John 1:12).

Lesson Five: Look people in the eyes when they are with you. This one is a major pet peeve of your mom. When you look at your phone in the presence of others you are telling those around you: “You are not really all that important to me.” Can you imagine Jesus delivering His sermon on the Mount, while constantly checking His phone?

Lesson Six: Use social media to encourage—not discourage. Let’s be honest: Christians get enough discouragement. If you use social media please use it to encourage—be a Barnabas! “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24)

Lesson Seven: They aren’t real friends. There is a whole lot more to friendship than clicking “confirm” on Facebook. Do not measure your self worth by the number of Facebook friends you have or the number of retweets you get. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). The right kind of friend will make you want to be a better Christian! Real friends invest time and energy into their relationship. Real friends listen. Real friends share common interests. Real friends tell the truth. Real friends protect us. Real friends overlook our faults. Real friends help bear our burdens. Real friends are loyal. “ As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17).

Lesson Eight: Avoid bragging. In “real life” we don’t routinely unpack our awards and trophies for friends, neighbors, and coworkers to see. But with social media everything becomes a photo op, an opportunity to brag, and everything is used to promote your image. This bragging about what you’ve done, what you’ve eaten, trips you’ve taken gets old to those around you. Solomon wrote, “Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). Jesus warned, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). If every one of your posts centers around you then you probably have a problem with bragging. Make sure your posts are humble in spirit (James 4:10).

Lesson Nine: Watch out for envy and discontent. Have you noticed that everybody else’s life looks better than yours on social media? This is because individuals normally don’t share the mundane or bad parts of their lives. As a result it is easy for someone to think that they have a much better life. Remember, you are only seeing part of the story. This “virtual” reality is unhealthy. It often causes you to start putting unrealistic expectations on your own spouse, children, and friends. Learn to be content like Paul in whatever state you find yourself (Philippians 4:11-13). Remember, covetousness is defined in Colossians 3:5 as idolatry.

Lesson Ten: Don’t allow Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to stifle prayer. You need to set aside down time to simply: “Be still and know that He is God …” (Psalm 46:10). Social media eats up time—time that you could be spent strengthening your relationship with God. In James 4:8 we read, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you …”

Lesson Eleven: Conduct yourself on social media like you would in person. Lots of people say things on social media they would never say in person, simply because they are on a screen they feel secure and hidden. It matters what your fingers type and one day you will be held accountable for every post and every text. There are Christians who post things they would never say out loud in public—but it is being read by hundreds if not thousands. You are a representation of the bride of Christ! You are supposed to be His servant. Please go back and read James 3, Matthew 5:13-16.

Lesson Twelve: Don’t allow Facebook to blind you to false beauty. Everyone looks good on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Of course what you don’t see are the 20-30 images it took them just to get that perfect one. This false beauty may make you think you are beautiful and may encourage you to believe beauty is found in the outward appearance. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Lesson Thirteen: Be careful about what you allow into your mind. According to Jesus, the greatest command is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). Remember every time you click you are opening up a window that will influence your mind.

Lesson Fourteen: Be careful little eyes what you see. I’ve talked to you before about the seriousness of pornography and sexting. Do not send/receive images that are not glorifying to God. Ever. Period. Do not give out personal information to those you do not know.

Lesson Fifteen: Use social media to reach the lost. We all know the “Great Commission” tells us to “go” (Matthew 28:19-20). With social media you have the ability to take the saving message of Jesus Christ to places on this planet you could never physically go to. Do not take that responsibility lightly. View your social media accounts as tools to reach the lost.

Lesson Sixteen: Be careful what you idolize. For many, there is a temptation to idolize social media. Remember God is a jealous God. He will not put up with idolatry. As God was handing down the Ten Commandments He warned the Israelites, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus
20:3). Paul further admonished, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

I hope these sixteen lessons will come in handy as you navigate the waters of social media, and I pray you will use it in such a way that it strengthens your relationship with Him.

Love,

Dad

Posted in Brad Harrub | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lessons about Social Media

Remember Eden

God Help Us To Remember Eden

The creation story was so remarkable that even the Creator looked at His work and said that it was good. This truth is stated seven times in the first chapter of the Bible. Near the end of the sixth day, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). In six short days, He had not made a single thing which was not very good. Life could not get any better for Adam and Eve in their first home, the Garden of Eden, which God made especially for them.

Adam and Eve had it all in the garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve had it all in the garden of Eden.

Then, it all changed—rebellion, ignoring God, disobedience, guilt, fear—it all changed. Driven from the presence of God, they were no longer allowed to walk with their Maker in the cool of day. There were consequences of sin for Satan, whose head would someday be bruised; for the serpent, who would no longer be the most cunning and crafty of any beast made by God; for the woman, there would be subjection and greater sorrow and pain in childbirth; and for Adam, who now had to deal with a cursed earth, the toil and sweat every day just to have food to survive, thorns and thistles to create greater adversity and the fact that someday his body made from the dust would become dust again.

Such a simple story filled with eternal truth. God makes everything very good, but we so often turn His work upside down. We have changed the home into something hardly recognizable.  Whatever happened to men seeing a wife as a treasure brought to him by God and his response that “she shall be bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”; whatever happened to “I will be a helper fit and comparable to him”?

How have we failed to learn that sin with all of its consequences can be as simple a thing as eating fruit from a tree? How did we ever arrive at the conclusion that only “big sins” matter? If “little sins” like eating fruit from a tree brings such judgment from God, how much greater will there be toward “big sins”? How have we forgotten that sin is disobedience and manifests a heart of rebellion? In the Eden story, we can vividly see the truth the Lord later proclaimed when He said, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:22).

Such simple truth with daily reminders. The sight of the enmity we have toward that serpent slithering on its belly should remind us of sin. The pain of childbirth and the sorrow in rearing children should remind us of sin. The sweat from the long hours we work and tiredness we feel at the end of each day should remind us of sin. The unhappiness and conflict in the home as we seek to deal with rule and subjection should remind us of sin. God help us to remember Eden!

Posted in Dan Jenkins | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Remember Eden