Now and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said, “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.”” And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3 ESV)
While it is not clear why, exactly, Nadab and Abihu did what they did, it is clear that it was not authorized by the Lord. God makes it clear that worship is not a measure of man’s creativity or whim, or an opportunity to be seen and revered by others, but an act of devotion. God will be worshipped according to His Word, not by man’s cleverness. This is one way we know that God is God. He reveals himself to us. We do not discover him. He commands of us, we do not decide how to approach him. Throughout history man has sought to define religion according to his ideas and whims. He has sought to imagine a god that fits his wishes and desires. Even today we imagine a god that fits culture’s political correctness and values. Even today we imagine how it is that God would have us approach him. But this is for God to reveal and us to abide, lest we put ourselves in the position of being god.
Lord, forgive us for measuring you and your ways against culture’s values and beliefs rather than measuring culture’s values and beliefs against you and your revelation. We get things backward and in so doing out ourselves in the position that only you occupy. Give us humility to approach you through Christ alone and value what you value, live as you instruct, worship according to your will.