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Strange Fire

By Pastor Dr. Shana Wise

The altar of incense represents the prayers of the faithful.

Plans for Incense Alter

Exodus 30:7-9 “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.

Exodus 30:35-37 You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36 And you shall beat some of it very fine and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the Lord.

Making the Alter of Incense

Exodus 37:25-28 He made the incense altar of acacia wood. Its length was a cubit and its width a cubit—it was square—and two cubits was its height. Its horns were of one piece with it. 26 And he overlaid it with pure gold: its top, its sides all around, and its horns. He also made for it a molding of gold all around it. 27 He made two rings of gold for it under its molding, by its two corners on both sides, as holders for the poles with which to bear it. 28 And he made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold.

Making the Anointing Oil and the Incense

29 He also made the holy anointing oil and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the perfumer.

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons)

Leviticus 10:1-7, Then Nadab and Abihu, 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. 2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “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.’ ” So Aaron held his peace. 4 Then Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.” 5 So they went near and carried them by their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled. 7 You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions concerning what was to happen in the Tabernacle.

Aaron’s tribe the Levites were chosen to serve as priests in the temple. They were there to do daily sacrifices, on behalf of the people, and to perform certain duties in the tabernacle.

One of the several assignments inside the temple that they had to do was tend to the incense altar.

It was placed right in front of the curtain that led into the holy of holies where the ark was placed, and the presence of the Lord was (see diagram).

When we read Leviticus, chapter 10:1-7, we see the sons of Aaron doing a wicked thing before the Lord and being killed at the incense altar.

What did they do to lose their life at the altar? They presented a strange fire to the Lord.

What was so wrong about this fire? It was not presented as the Lord told them to in Exodus, chapter 30.

As I was meditating on this scripture, I wondered why the Lord killed the sons at the altar?

I believe there were several reasons:

1. Aaron's sons were called to represent the people and once a year perform the ceremony of atonement for their sins. This was a very serious and important requirement of the priest. Therefore, they had to do it the way God wanted it done (Holy).

2. If God did not stop Aaron's sons from doing what they wanted to do in the temple, they would have started a pattern within the priesthood of corruption in the temple. God‘s presence cannot abide in a corrupt place.

3. God had to make an example of them because the requirement of serving as a priest in the temple is that you must be holy, as God is holy. God did not ask for perfection he asked for holiness. Meaning to represent God in a way that pleased him and to do what’s right in his house.

The son’s father, Aaron also had a problem with holiness because he let the people talk him into making a golden calf and worshiping it when Moses was on the mountain (Ex.32). His sons witnessed this, and they may have thought it was OK to behave any kind of way when it came to worshiping the True and Living God. They also may have been born in Egypt or the wilderness and some of those pagan worship rituals from the past may have affected them.

There is still "strange fire" taking place in the house of God in 2023!

The reason we don’t see more people being killed in the temple of God is because of the grace and mercy that is covering the ones who are doing this. However, just because we don’t see God, physically killing them does not mean that they are compromising and killing their relationship with God.

When the ones who have been called to lead the people of God to proper worship, choose to do what they want to do in God’s house, there will be consequences. It is better for them to repent now than to die and must face God for the unrepentant sin of “strange fire”.

John 4:21-24, Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Now is the time for the revival of true worship, that is holy and acceptable to God.

Now is the time to stop, engaging and strange fire, and live a life that is pleasing to God.

For true worship to take place that is pleasing to God, we must search ourselves and see if there are any areas in our lives, that we need to repent. An unrepentant heart cannot worship God in a way that pleases him.

Other Scriptures Regarding the Alter of Incense:

Luke 1:5-13, There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, [c]his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer, is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak to you and bring you [d]these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

The Incense Alter in Heaven

Revelation 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 8:3-4 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.

Watch the Message

About the Author

Dr. Shana Wise is an ordained Pastor who founded and oversees Wise Choice Ministries with her husband Pastor Ron Wise. She is also the CEO and founder of The Well Christian Women’s Network. Dr. Wise is the author of Women’s Devotionals Acts of Intercession and Chief Women Arise, The Impact of Your Election, and the Basic Ministry Training Manual (all available on Amazon). She received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 2019 from St. Thomas Christian University. Her passion is to teach and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, equip others to apply the Word to their lives, and demonstrate it through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is a televangelist who appears on social media outlets. Shana is married and has four children.

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The Impact of Your Election

Basic Ministry Training Manual

Chief Women Arise

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