Leviticus 10 & the RPW

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AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
"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. 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."
- Leviticus 10:1-3

As I am sure you are aware these verses are used as a proof-text for the RPW. That is, here we find Nadab and Abihu offering to YHWH something he had not commanded (and which he had not forbidden) and they were punished for it, therefore we must only worship how YHWH has commanded.

Yet in Exodus 30:9 we read, "Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon."

Does this not change the whole import of Leviticus 10:1-3?

We see that Nadab and Abihu had actually broken an explicit command from YHWH, i.e the statement "By offering “strange fire,” Nadab and Abihu did not violate any explicit commandment or prohibition of Scripture" (here) is wrong.

Usually the rebuttal is that "It says 'strange incense' not 'strange fire' in Exodus 30:9" but surely fire + strange incense = strange fire?

Thoughts? :think:
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Actually, I think the connection strengthens the RPW, since Leviticus 10:1-3 explicitly tells us not to do anything in worship that is not commanded.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Actually, I think the connection strengthens the RPW, since Leviticus 10:1-3 explicitly tells us not to do anything in worship that is not commanded.

Is not the sin of Nadab and Abihu not that they added to the worship of God, but rather that they did in worship what God had expressly forbidden?

I must say though that Matthew Henry makes a good point on Exodus 30:9:

That nothing was to be offered upon it but incense, nor any incense but that which was appointed, Exodus 30:9. God will have his own service done according to his own appointment, and not otherwise.​
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
God had expressly forbidden anyone to offer any kind of incense that was not commanded. All this does is make the RPW explicit in Scripture. Therefore, the example of N and A proves that they offered strange fire in direct violation of the command not to offer fire in any other way than what God commanded.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Since there is disagreement on the interpretation of this passage by exegetes who are both competent and sincere, does that not place it in a doubtful category, i.e. in the same category as credo vs. pedo baptism and pre-mil vs post-mil? God is perfectly capable of making the essentials crystal clear in the scriptures--the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement, for example. For some reason known only to Him, he has given equivocal scriptural evidence on some subjects. On other subjects there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever (such as the frequency of communion).
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Since there is disagreement on the interpretation of this passage by exegetes who are both competent and sincere, does that not place it in a doubtful category, i.e. in the same category as credo vs. pedo baptism and pre-mil vs post-mil? God is perfectly capable of making the essentials crystal clear in the scriptures--the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement, for example. For some reason known only to Him, he has given equivocal scriptural evidence on some subjects. On other subjects there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever (such as the frequency of communion).

I don't believe that credo vs. paedo baptism is in a doubtful category and I'm sure many if not most of the paedos here agree.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mary,

God does not equivocate, man does. There is dispute in interpretation over the deity of Christ, the atonement, etc.

By your rule, nothing may be known with certainty. The reason? Because such a principle of interpretation takes man as its standard.

This is exactly what the RPW is all about: is God the party to please, or is man? If worship is for man's sake, he may add to, subtract from, or modify what God has said He wants. If worship is for God's sake, we may not add to, subtract from, or modify what God has said He wants. Hermeneutics is the same in principal.

Cheers,

Adam




Since there is disagreement on the interpretation of this passage by exegetes who are both competent and sincere, does that not place it in a doubtful category, i.e. in the same category as credo vs. pedo baptism and pre-mil vs post-mil? God is perfectly capable of making the essentials crystal clear in the scriptures--the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement, for example. For some reason known only to Him, he has given equivocal scriptural evidence on some subjects. On other subjects there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever (such as the frequency of communion).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The answer (I believe) is not to be found in Ex. 30:9, but rather in Lev. 9:24.

The problem was not in the improper incense, but in an improper FIRE, which is exactly what the text says.

God lit off his own fire on the altar of burnt offering. This is the fire most nearly referred to in the passage. Nadab and Abihu should have expected one of the following:
1) to have God give them new fire,
2) should have inferred they ought to use fire from off God's altar in front of the tabernacle, or
3) asked God what they should be doing to bring fire to the altar inside the tent.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
I understand that there is dispute over everything, but not by competent exegetes who love the scriptures. How do you account for the differences between credo and pedo baptism or pre-mil vs post-mil? Certainly if there had been an explicit statement in the scripture that all infants of believers should be baptized, that would have settled the issue; there would be no credos. Likewise, if the scriptures contained a time-line of the last days, and if Revelation were written in a different, easier style, would that not settle the eschatology issue? Some things are clearer than others. Obviously there is a right and wrong on these issues; it's just hard to know what it is. I've been bouncing back and forth between credo and pedo and back again. I personally wish that the scriptures were clearer on them (save me some struggling) but God in His sovereignty chose to make these things less clear than He might have.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Jeremiah Burroughs:

I find in Exodus 30:9 that they were forbidden to offer strange incense, but I do not find that they were forbidden to offer strange fire. In Lev.6:13, and divers verses in that chapter, we find that God had appointed that they should constantly keep the fire on the altar burning and never let it go out. It seems that it was God's intention that they should make use of that fire and that fire only. God would have them to pick out His meaning. God sent fire down from heaven upon the altar. In the latter end of the 9th chapter, God sent down fire from heaven and gave them a charge to keep that fire on the altar constantly and never to let it go out. So that it seems that God would have them to pick out His meaning that because He had sent down fire from heaven upon the altar and gave them power to keep it constantly, God would have them understand, therefore, that what incense or sacrifice He would have the use of should be only that fire and no other. It should be noted, though, that God never did say to them directly in these words, “You shall make use of this fire and no other,” but God would have them to understand this. That's their sin, therefore, in offering strange fire.
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore
I also think that what made the fire "strange" or "profane" is explained to us right in the passage itself; it was "strange" fire because it was fire "which He had not commanded them." Those things that we do in worship without positive warrant from God's Word are by their nature "strange" because they're foreign to God's Word.

Mary, I don't mean to be flippant in any way with the following comment, so please don't take it that way. But the Lord is quite clear about what He requires of us in worship.

Deuteronomy 12:32 32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."

This, along with the second commandment, is really the basis for what we refer to as the regulative principle of worship. It really is that simple...

In His grace,

Steve
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
An interesting point that can perhaps support what Burroughs is saying is that fire came from the Lord and consumed the erring two; the same fire that had previously consumed the sacrifice.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I also think that what made the fire "strange" or "profane" is explained to us right in the passage itself; it was "strange" fire because it was fire "which He had not commanded them." Those things that we do in worship without positive warrant from God's Word are by their nature "strange" because they're foreign to God's Word.

:amen:
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Since there is disagreement on the interpretation of this passage by exegetes who are both competent and sincere, does that not place it in a doubtful category, i.e. in the same category as credo vs. pedo baptism and pre-mil vs post-mil? God is perfectly capable of making the essentials crystal clear in the scriptures--the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement, for example. For some reason known only to Him, he has given equivocal scriptural evidence on some subjects. On other subjects there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever (such as the frequency of communion).

I think you clarify this below, but you should avoid saying things like "he has given equivocal scriptural evidence"... that makes God out to be a liar. The reason that people are divided is that we are fallible and sin still clouds our vision. God never says contradictory things, nor does His Word contain such.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Since there is disagreement on the interpretation of this passage by exegetes who are both competent and sincere, does that not place it in a doubtful category, i.e. in the same category as credo vs. pedo baptism and pre-mil vs post-mil? God is perfectly capable of making the essentials crystal clear in the scriptures--the deity of Jesus, the substitutionary atonement, for example. For some reason known only to Him, he has given equivocal scriptural evidence on some subjects. On other subjects there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever (such as the frequency of communion).

I think you clarify this below, but you should avoid saying things like "he has given equivocal scriptural evidence"... that makes God out to be a liar. The reason that people are divided is that we are fallible and sin still clouds our vision. God never says contradictory things, nor does His Word contain such.

You are right, of course. My fault for putting it that way. Thanks for the correction.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
God had expressly forbidden anyone to offer any kind of incense that was not commanded. All this does is make the RPW explicit in Scripture. Therefore, the example of N and A proves that they offered strange fire in direct violation of the command not to offer fire in any other way than what God commanded.

Of course :doh:

The answer (I believe) is not to be found in Ex. 30:9, but rather in Lev. 9:24.

:up:


:up:

I also think that what made the fire "strange" or "profane" is explained to us right in the passage itself; it was "strange" fire because it was fire "which He had not commanded them." Those things that we do in worship without positive warrant from God's Word are by their nature "strange" because they're foreign to God's Word.

Thanks Steve.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm not a minister or an elder, but it seems to me that it is neither fire nor incense that God is concerned with here. I think the point of the Lev. 10 passage was that Nadab and Abihu did not come in worship or sacrifice before God through faith. It was the righteousness through faith that was lacking because they did not follow it by obedience in faith. One fire or another, or one incense or another, is not the point here; for neither fire nor incense are of any assistance to the sinner in approaching the holy God.

I'm thinking, of course, of Romans 3, the great Reformation passage. It is by faith that we uphold the law, and not that in upholding the law that we are justified and sanctified. I am also thinking of Rom. 12 and 13, in which our reasonable and spiritual service of worship and our debt of love to each other are outlined. Whatever law there may be is summed up in this: love your neighbour, for love does not do harm to you neighbour; and neither does it usurp God's honour and glory.

This, more than fire from another source and more than incense not prescribed, was what outraged the righteousness of God, it seems to me. Christ freed us so we could draw near to God to worship Him. Following God's prescription of worship is not freedom to approach Him with our own righteousness, but to approach Him even though we are unrighteous in ourselves yet made righteous through Christ.
 
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