Tag: Damascus

Strange Fire



Strange Fire

Nadab and Abihu were the sons of Aaron, elected by God, according to their lineage, to be among the Royal Priesthood. They were fully qualified, ordained priests unto God and served in the Temple of God. One day, Nadab and Abihu got it into their pompous thinking that they could bring an offering before God, which was not ordained of God. The priests, appointed by God, starting with Aaron the High Priest, all the way down to the priests who attended the doors of the Temple of God, were given specific duties outlined by God Himself, starting with their responsibility to cleanse themselves at the laver (indicative of New Testament sanctification), to what types of garments to wear, what specific offerings to make upon the brazen altar, and so forth.

The Word of God tells us,

“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in them and put incense on them and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He did not command them to do; and there went out fire from the Lord and devoured them and they died before the Lord” Leviticus 10:1-2 (emphasis added).

This is an aspect of God’s character that many people do not recognize. They want to talk about the love of God anytime, but when it comes to the Lord’s commandments and His requirement that we obey them, or face the consequences, people want to deny that characteristic of God.

Deny it all they may, God is to be feared. Old Testament and New Testament scriptures instruct us to fear God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they who do His commandments; His praise endures forever” Psalm 111:10.

Jesus said,

“Fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28.

This New Testament scripture is something many people who claim to be Christians work very hard at camouflaging and twisting, because they don’t want to believe in hell. They will even strike new meaning to what Christ said specifically about the body and soul being tormented in hell (because of sin), rather than believe in the Words of Jesus, which they feel are too negative to be true. Seventh-Day Adventists and “Jehovah’s” Witnesses do not believe in a literal hell, for example.

A “Jehovah’s” Witness said to me once, “God wouldn’t send anyone to hell; He wouldn’t do something like that.” 

We need to remember this; anyone who twists the Word of God to conform to their own way of thinking is in grave danger, according to the Word of God.

Jesus said to John the Revelator:

“I testify unto every man who hears the Words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the Words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book” Revelation 22:18-19.

In the same book, Revelation, Jesus told John:

“I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (eternal death in the lake of fire). And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:12-15.

Now given the warning in Revelation 22:18-19, about being removed out of the Book of Life, if anyone takes away from the things written in “this book” (the Book of Revelation), I believe it is a mighty fearful thing not to believe in hell and the lake of fire, or to try to remove that truth from the book!

Jeremiah also prophesied a warning to those who create their own path to walk in, their own way to pleasing God:

“Because my people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to vanity and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up…I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity” Jeremiah 18:15, 17.

Some might say Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire relates only to Old Testament law, not the dispensation of grace. The following reveals some truth about God’s wrath in the New Testament and is a warning not to trifle with God, not to deal deceitfully concerning the things of God, or worse, lie to the Holy Ghost:

“A certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not your own? After it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied unto men, but to God. Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and gave up the ghost (died on the spot), and great fear came on all those who heard these things. The young men arose, wound him up, carried him out and buried him. It was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what happened, came in. Peter asked her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? She said, Yes, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that you agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door and shall carry you out. She then fell down immediately at his feet and yielded up the ghost; and the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. Great fear came upon all the church, as many as heard these things” Acts 5:1-11.

The deaths of these two, Ananias and Sapphira, weren’t about money, or giving to the church. It was all about lying to God, and the consequences for doing such a thing. Ananias and Sapphira made a commitment to sell some property and donate all of the proceeds to God. Obviously, through the Spirit of discernment, or by revelation, Peter knew they decided to withhold part of the money they received for the property. Instead of modifying their pledge, which would have at least been the honest thing to do, they decided to lie about how much they received for the property, as if they were still donating the whole amount they received to God. They apparently felt so good about themselves, having donated whatever portion of the sale they were giving, they had no concern whatsoever about lying to the man of God about their donation.

God despised their deceitful giving, because it was given in the wrong spirit, in fact, they gave it in a lying spirit, which is evil. The Word of God tells us that there are six, actually seven things God hates, and one of those seven things is “a lying tongue” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

The ways of Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira remind me of another passage of scripture:

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” Proverbs 14:12.

People have a lot of “wonderful” ideas about God, about what He likes and what He dislikes, about what He wants and what He doesn’t want, about what they think His Word says and about what they think His Word doesn’t say. This is evident by the fact that there are dozens of churches in many cities throughout the world, but they all teach a different doctrine.

There are only two eternal destinies in place: heaven, for those who know truth and obey it; and hell, for those who think they know truth, but talked themselves into believing fables (2 Timothy 4:1-4).

No prophecy is of private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). In other words, no one scripture stands alone; it must be compared and measured against other scriptures. We are instructed to “rightly divide” the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This means we have to know the whole Word, before we can rightly divide it, or measure its interpretation by other passages of scripture. Often, when you read a passage of scripture and you don’t understand it right away, the scripture will interpret itself, as you keep reading. Nevertheless, the same passage of scripture may have a different meaning if you isolate it from the rest of the Word. It is always critical to pray with a pure heart before God for the divine interpretation of His Word, and He promised to answer that prayer, when we seek Him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).

Paul was called by God to be an evangelist and overseer of the Church of God. Before he set out on his ministry, he went to Arabia to hear the Words of Jesus Christ himself; he did not study under men. After all, men can twist the Word of God around horribly. Paul said to the brethren in Galatia,

“I certify to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by revelation of Jesus Christ…When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither did I go up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and abode with him fifteen days. I saw no other apostle, except James, the Lord’s brother” Galatians 1:11-12, 15-19 (emphasis added).

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, did not learn the things of God after the rudiments of men, but he went straight to the Source alone. Before he began ministering, he spent three years receiving revelations from Jesus, not of man.

I have heard some of the most outrageous doctrine from those who have graduated from “Bible” seminaries, because the curriculum is often based on man’s interpretation of the Word, not God’s divine revelation.

If you want real instruction, pray earnestly, and then go before the One and only source of real truth and that is the Lord Himself, “who gives freely and upbraids not” (James 1:5), just as the Apostles and Paul did.

Once you know the Word of God for yourself, then, and only then, you can identify false doctrine when you hear it, perhaps even from your pastor!

Jesus warned not once, not twice, but three times to beware of false teachers, false prophets and false Christs in Matthew 24, especially as we draw nearer to the Lord’s return.

When we stand before God on Judgment Day, pastors and teachers will answer to God for how they presented the Word of God to others. Everyone who heard them will stand alone before God, to answer to Him about why they believed those who lied, instead of reading the Word of God for themselves in order to know the truth.

Our eternal destiny hinges on knowing God’s Holy Word, to the best of our ability, and whether we obeyed it.

Are we offering acceptable sacrifices to God, or strange fire?

Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled and those remaining shall surely come to pass. Are you prepared to stand before God and give an account of the life you have lived on this earth (Revelation 20:12-15)? If not, salvation is only a prayer away. Please visit the How Can I Be Saved page – your eternal destiny depends on it. God bless you.

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The Case for Christ


Photo: LeeStrobel.com

This isn’t regular news today, folks. The following is a message I wrote on the Messages page a number of years ago. This is a summary of Lee Strobel’s testimony of his conversion and of some facts he wrote about in his book, The Case for Christ. May it bless you as much as it does me.

Former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, wrote a fascinating book, The Case for Christ.

Lee Strobel earned his Bachelor of Journalism degree at the University of Missouri and his Master of Studies in Law degree at Yale Law School.

Needless to say, the man is astute, articulate and amassed with knowledge, most specifically in the areas of law and journalism.

Strobel was an atheist, as many well-educated individuals are. It seems that frequently, once people acquire a certain higher level of worldly knowledge, ego can be an enormous hurdle when it comes to the basic understanding of God and the fact that we are His creation. This understanding brings us down to square-one, because humility is the premise in coming to know who God really is. The Biblical principle of having child-like faith and humility in order to be accepted of God (Matthew 18:3-4), can be difficult for those who believe they have accomplished great feats on their own.

As an atheist, with a law degree and the propensity to unearth truth and weigh evidence, or the lack of it, in the balance, Lee Strobel set out to prove the case for, or against, Christ.

In his quest for truth, Strobel studied ancient history, archeological data, historical archives and he interviewed many scholars.

I will never forget one part of the evidence he brought forth in his personal testimony. Strobel said that among the strong evidence for Christ was the fact that many suffered martyrdom for Him. The apostles knew Jesus personally and most of them died a martyr’s death because of their faith, which is strong evidence indeed that Jesus was the Christ. Strobel’s point was, who would die for a liar and a fraud?

I had never considered those facts, until I heard Lee Strobel’s testimony. 

The Apostle Paul’s conversion and martyrdom is most compelling. Paul didn’t walk and talk with Jesus in person, as did the other apostles. In fact, he was “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6), having studied at the feet of Gamaliel, a renowned teacher of the law in the first century. Gamaliel’s rulings appeared in the Mishnah (Jewish law) and the Paul was his student.

Paul was a devout Jew and subsequently persecuted and killed Christians, believing himself to serve God in the matter (Acts 26).

One day, as he traveled the road to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them to Jerusalem for persecution and to be killed as heretics, Jesus appeared in a great light to Paul and He said, “Saul (his name being Saul at the time), Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9)

Paul answered Jesus and said, “Who are you, Lord?”

Jesus said, “I am Jesus whom you persecute.”

Paul said, “Lord, what will you have me to do?”

Jesus said to him, “Arise, and go into the city and it will be told you what you must do.”

Paul entered the city, being led by hand because he was blinded by his vision.

At that time, the Lord spoke to a certain disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Lord called him, “Ananias;” and Ananias said, “I am here, Lord.”

The Lord told Ananias, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight and ask in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for he is praying and has seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”

The street called Straight still exists in Damascus today. It is called Al-Shari in Arabic and it is the very same street Paul visited and where Ananias lived during 33-36 AD approximately.

Photos: GeolocationStraight Street (Al-Shari), Damascus and Door on Straight Street

This occurred only within approximately one to several years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. As we look at the ancient street called Straight in the picture above, which has been modernized to a certain degree (close-up original shows brick road and dirt sidewalks), it seems it wasn’t so long ago that Christ walked the earth. Having the ability to look at the very same street brings to life the encounter Paul had with our Lord and Savior.

Paul was converted on that very street. He went on to be an overseer of the early church, which is amazing.

Paul was a very educated man and a devout Jew. He was killing Christians, but after his experience with Jesus on the street called Straight, he was not only converted, but became an overseer of the church. What else, besides this miraculous event, would cause such a conversion?

Paul went on to teach, preach and oversee the church, until he was arrested and finally beheaded for his faith by Nero Caesar.

Certainly this man, Saul of Tarsus, a devout Jew, later to become the Apostle Paul and overseer of Christians, did not lay his neck on Nero’s chop block for any possibility of a deceitful lie and deception.

The Apostle Paul went through a powerful, Spirit-filled conversion and confirmation in the early church, because Jesus Christ is Lord.

Interestingly enough, even Gamaliel, a great leader of the Hebrews, astutely said,

“You men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men (the apostles); for before these days, rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves, who was slain, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to naught. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of taxing and drew away much people after him. He also perished and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, refrain from these men and let them alone, for if this counsel, or if this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest happily you be found even to fight against God” Acts 5:35-39.

All of the counsel with Gamaliel at that time ended up agreeing with him, believing him to be wise.

It is most notable that the followers of Jesus Christ the Savior did not diminish, as did the others, and many, many more after them; but the followers of Christ grew to profound numbers. In fact, the following of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, without television, radio or internet, grew the world over, only starting with 12 men on foot!

The Word of God tells us,

“For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16.

If you haven’t already, will you believe and receive the Savior of our souls today? The one who died in our place, to redeem us from sin and pave the way for our entrance into a holy heaven, to be with our most Holy God forever, throughout eternity?

There is only one of two places we will go for eternity, friend, heaven, or hell. Jesus spoke of the punishment of hell for those who refuse to receive His death, His atonement for our sins.

Are you prepared to stand before God and give an account of the life you have lived on this earth? If not, please visit the How Can I Be Saved page of this website. Your eternal destiny depends on it. God bless you.