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Strange Fire

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 1, 2022 12:01 am

Strange Fire

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 1, 2022 12:01 am

When the sons of Aaron presented an offering to God that He had not authorized, it cost them their lives. Why was the Lord's judgment so severe? Today, R.C. Sproul explores what this account teaches us about the holiness of God.

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I was moved to teach on the doxology and the benedictions first of all because of what they mean to me in my own devotional. I turned to them in my own private meditations for refocus for worship for self-examination for building up a faith and then as a result of that, I've been looking for opportunities to teach them to our church because I believe they aid to people of God in looking up and seeing the greatness of God in these succinct statements of blessing and/or doxology that are memorable and meaningful.

We take them for granted but they are there for blessing, blessing and praise by HB Charles Junior visit Lincoln series to learn more, the sons of Aaron were priests of God, but for some reason they decided to present an offering that God is not prescribed, and God wasn't pleased.

It seems like what is going on here is cruel and unusual punishment for this Miss Dave this prank or mischievous innovation that they introduced to the altar was not simply admonished by God or rebuked by God but God instantly killed them.

It's a difficult passage to understand God deal with the sons of Aaron, so harsh today I'm Renewing Your Mind. We continue Dr. RC Sproul series the hard sayings of the Bible will learn why God was so severe. In this case and what you and I can learn from when we first began our series Renewing Your Mind on radio we introduced our program with the study of the holiness of God, and on that occasion. We looked at a particular narrative in the Old Testament. In light of the broader concept of the holiness of God and I have been asked in the context of this series on the hard sayings of the Bible to review that particular narrative once again. I guess it's because this particular incident is of abiding consternation for many of God's people, and so we shall do that, we will look again at the story of the sons of Aaron may dab and abide who who were slain rapidly and decisively by God in the Old Testament. The record is found in the book of Leviticus at the beginning of chapter 10 Leviticus chapter 10 verse one. Now we read this account then may dab and abide who the sons of Aaron each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it and offered profane fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them, and so far it went out from the Lord and divide them and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, this is what the Lord spoke now before I get to the rest of that passage. Let's recapitulate the small information that is given here. Here we have two of the sons of Aaron, and we remember that Aaron was the first high priest of the Jewish nation that God had consecrated to a holy vocation and as the high priest and the head of the Levitical or the so-called ironic priesthood of the Old Testament. It was significant that his sons would follow in his footsteps. We remember that God had consecrated an entire tribe of the sons of Jacob to be consecrated to the work of the priesthood.

The tribe of Levi, and in the family of Aaron and his sons were likewise ordained or set apart for the priesthood and then we read here in chapter 10 of Leviticus that two of his sons name dab and abide who each took his censer and the sensor was a kind of vessel that was used in antiquity to contain the incense that was burned as an offering before the Lord and so they took their censer and they put fire in it and put the incense on it and offered what the book of Leviticus calls, profane fire Pro playing fire. What is profane fire not propane fire but profane fire was offered on the altar before God.

Some translation simply read strange fire or alien fire. The word profane is used in our vocabulary to refer to that which is less than sacred, less than holy week speak of profanity, which is a way of using words that is unacceptable to God.

I'm also fascinated with the historic use of the term profane where Martin Luther you recall, in the 16th century called the church to be profane.

He called the ministry to be profane and he called the priesthood to be profane and when people hear Luther saying that course read Luther writing that their eyebrows usually are raised and they say why in the world would a reformer advocate a profane ministry for the church. While Luther was using the term profane in a way that was much closer to its original meaning, then it is today Pro for now simply means literally out side of the temple and what Luther meant when he said that the church has a profane ministry, he means that the church is called to come out of the temple and into the world that the world is the arena of ministry for the Christian community. That's what he meant. He didn't mean that the church should be a pagan or ungodly or irreligious or unholy.

But now, when we read the term profane fire were reading it in light of the current significance of this term which means on holy not in a literal sense. What the author is saying here is that the fire that was introduced to the altar on this occasion was a fire that had not been purified or consecrated now on the surface it seems like what is going on here is cruel and unusual punishment. Here, the sons of Aaron, their young priests they violate. Obviously some detail of the prescription that God had set forth for the offering of incense in the holy place and for this misdeed. This prank or mischievous innovation that they introduced to the altar was not simply admonished by God or rebuked by God but God instantly killed them.

Now we have two questions that immediately arise about this incident. The first is, is that really what happened is this an accurate inspired account of divine judgment upon the sons of Aaron, or, again, as the critics have suggested is this part of the primitive na´ve ancient Hebrew explanations for natural events that they interpreted mystically or theologically manual bellicosity who was somewhat of a maverick in the scientific world, who was a close friend of Albert Einstein at Princeton University decades ago, wrote to best-selling books in which he challenged some of the pet series of modern geology, one being called worlds in collision and the other earth in up evil, war, bellicosity came against some of these pet theories from two different perspectives. One was by giving a detailed critical analysis of the anomalies that are unresolved in uniform. Geology and will leave that aside for the moment, and the other book was based on speculative hypothesis drawn from bellicosity's careful study of the folklore the mythology and the traditions of many nations around the world nations of antiquity, where he discovered that in their ancient writings, there were certain common themes that recurred about astronomical phenomena.

Now the working assumption that bellicosity used in his theorizing, for better or worse was this that ancient myths was something that people used in a primitive attempt to explain phenomena in the world around them that they didn't understand scientifically and so that there was in bellicosity's judgment some real historical event that was hiding behind these primitive and crude mythological attempts to explain their world. Hence, you have all these different stories about deluges or floods that are accounted for in several ancient mythological strains that led bellicosity. The conclusion there must've been some kind of dramatic deluges that took place in the ancient world. Since we keep finding allusions to it in so many different nations literature but this concern was about an astronomical perturbation that must've been catastrophic in scope were many people in their ancient mythology talked about the site of this heavenly body coming close to the earth with a large tail looking something like a huge comet. A notice that allusions to Venus, the morning Star. The planet is absent in a certain period in ancient astrology and then suddenly occurs in the literature of antiquity, and he concocts this theory about what would happen if a huge planet or, through some kind of thing would come close enough to the earth to enter into our atmospheric field and what kind of catastrophic upheaval. There would be sample.

He sees the pillar of smoke or the pillar of fire in the wilderness experience of the Israelites, as the Jews wandering all around chasing after the tail of this comet that it entered in close to the earth.

And so anyway he talks about all of the physical things of reversal of the pole of the earth and someone in the macro to get into that, but one of the things that he speculates about is that this heavenly or astronomical mass that would come close to the earth with all this smoke and fire would have dropped a kind of map that onto the planet and that NAFTA would see into the layers of the earth. This is his explanation for why the Mideast is so rich in petroleum and he appeals to this text. In the Old Testament to support this theory. He said that this particular form of natural gas that was spent dumped on the planet was discovered by a couple of young priests and they decided to experiment with it on the altar. And when they did, it blew up in their faces and killed them, that had nothing to do with divine judgment. It was simply a natural event caused by a drastic mistake of experimentation, much as the mad scientist does when he mixes things together in his basement that he shouldn't been we see in the cartoons where he blows his house up, and so on. Not an interesting theory that bellicosity gives but right now our concern is how does the Bible itself. Understand this event and I would have to say, even if this did happen as a result of offering on the altar petroleum that was.

Not supposed to be used, even at that, we still have the judgment of God in this because, under God's providence. These men were doing something they were not supposed to be doing and so they were offering this strange fire. Whatever it was.

Now obviously when the fire consumes in a dab and a buy who and they are killed on the spot. Aaron is greatly displaced.

You can imagine it, he's given his life and devotion to God, and now his sons who have come into the priesthood make one little mistake at the altar and God wipes them out. You can hear Erin in his distress coming to Moses and saying what's going on here. What kind of repayment is that I serve the Lord day and night and he kills my sons for a peccadillo for a small thing.

I'm reading between the lines here, of course, but all the Scripture says is that Moses spoke to Aaron assuming that Aaron went to Moses very distressed. This is what the Lord spoke, saying, by those who come near me. I must be regarded as holy and before all the people I must be glorified. Moses is speaking to Aaron and he said Aaron do remember what God said when he consecrated you in the first place. Do remember the law he delivered regarding the behavior of the priesthood that one nonnegotiable with Almighty God is that he insists that he will be regarded as holy by anyone who draws near to him. Sometimes the Old Testament Scripture, particularly in terms of historical narrative is the master of understatement were profoundly deep and moving experiences are recorded for us in the barest of terms in the briefest of accounts and though it's dangerous to speculate and we need to be careful about the speculation that we bring to Scripture. It's an almost impossible temptation to resist because these accounts are so abbreviated and we try to reconstruct them in our own mind have an existential as it were, approach to these texts and we will begin to see the vast understatement that is so characteristic of the Scriptures we see it in the next verse and Erin held his peace the end of the story, you better believe Erin held his peace. The fact that he held his peace suggests that before Moses reminded him of the terms of the priesthood that Aaron was not at all in an irenic frame of mind.

His peace was something that was escaping until Moses reminds him and then Erin holds his peace. That means he's he shuts up the arguments over there's nothing left to debate Moses reminds Aaron. Hey, this is what God said this should not be a surprise to you. It should not be a shock to you that God would visit his judgment on any priest, even if there your sons Erin, who disobey the sacred commandments of ministering before his presence again to understand a little bit more fully. Let's go back to the book of Exodus we remember that the most famous chapter in the book of Exodus is Exodus 20. Because in Exodus 20 we have the giving of the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai. We also remember that in chapter 19 of the book of Exodus, God speaks to Moses and tells Moses to command the people to prepare a fast and to spend some time consecrating themselves before the day comes where God will come to the top of the mountain and will meet with Moses personally. There and we remember the narrative that describes that event where there was lightning and thunder and this deep cloud on the mountain and God had made the law that nobody apart from Moses, was allowed to approach the mountain or set foot upon the mountain and if they touch the mountain, they were to die what's in that context in Exodus 19 that we read these words.

Verse 21 of Exodus 19.

The Scripture says, and the Lord said to Moses, go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near the Lord consecrate themselves less the Lord break out against them again. Verse 24 the Lord said to him away, get down and then come up you and Erin with you, but do not let the priests and the people break through to come out to the Lord, lest he break out against the so at the very beginning of the formation of the nation of Israel, the giving of the law, God applies the initial laws of consecration, which are then repeated when he establishes the priesthood and he is warning them that if they are not consecrated, and if they violate this consecration this sanctification.

God will break out against them may dab in the by violated holy law of the priest and when they did it. God, reminding Israel of the sanctity of the presence of God and Israel heard that message loud and clear over and over in Scripture we see God proclaiming his holiness and the importance of taking his holiness seriously. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Saturday at a message by Dr. RC Sproul from his series, the hard sayings of the Bible. RC will return it just a moment to conclude our study today.

I hope you stay with us. The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of some 1500 years by dozens of human authors in three different languages. The cultural and linguistic divides me that there are times we will run across passages that were clearly authored but not immediately clear to us. Every book was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So there and Erin and without contradictions, but sometimes we do need help in understanding them doctors. ProSeries covers 15 difficult passages of Scripture and explains them in light of their forgotten context, we likely to have the entire series, simply contact us with a gift of any amount. The leader ministries and will provide you with a digital download or offices are closed today but you can request the series online.

When you go to Renewing Your Mind.or and behalf of all of his yearly dinner ministries. Thank you for your generosity was recently given the assignment to write an article for our magazine table talk on the fear of the war and I struggled with that article because I realized that in our day in the life of the church.

We are no longer encouraged to have a healthy fear of God. We seem to assume that the fear of the Lord is something that belongs specifically and exclusively to the Old Testament and is not to be a part of the life of the Christian and yet fear in the Old Testament involves not simply a trembling before God's wrath and vengeance but a sense of reverence, a sense of awe before his holiness, and even though the wall of partition has been removed, and though we are living on this side of the cross. The fear of the Lord is still the beginning of wisdom and the mark of the unbeliever is that that person has no fear of God before his God hasn't changed. He is still an all-consuming fire and when we come into his presence. We are to come as children we are to come as those who been reconciled, but there is to be a godly fear that still respects who it is we are dealing with. Thank you for joining us for Renewing Your Mind today and on this first day of the new year to express my hope and prayer 2022 brings you a greater appreciation of God and his character in and what he's done for us through his son Jesus Christ. On behalf of all of my comics yearly dinner ministries. This is we well wishing you a happy new

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