There’s a great deal of commotion of late around the Biblical term, “Strange Fire.” The implications of this commotion are that there is much in the Body of Christ that is tantamount to improper worship; worship that God is not pleased with.
The connotation of “Strange Fire” is rooted in the railing against the broad spectrum of modern Christianity called the “Charismatic Movement.” This is construed to include – but not limited to – “Word of Faith,” “Prosperity,” and “Pentecostal Healing/Delivery” ministries. Now, I’d understand if the focus was on the shortcomings of these ministries but there seems to be a stake-in-the-ground stance that decries Charismatic ministries en toto.
There have been many failings in the Charismatic Movement. Adultery, drug abuse, homosexuality, and financial improprieties have dogged many ministries. However, it is unfair to paint these ministries with a broad-brush, as the same failings have occurred in orthodox, traditional ministries as well.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about “Strange Fire:”
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. (Leviticus 10:1)
And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children:and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father. (Numbers 3:4)
And Nadab and Abihu died, when they offered strange fire before the Lord. (Numbers 26:61)
The Biblical definition of “Strange Fire,” then, would appear to be fire that is kindled against the instruction of the Lord or an unpleasing sacrifice to God.
There is also a term tossed about in Christian circles that “fire always falls on sacrifice.” Here is the source of that:
Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (1 Kings 18:38)
In each of these cases, there was a sacrifice made unto the Lord by men. And, in each of these cases, the occurrence was before the dispensation of Grace under the New Covenant.
Isaiah saw the plan of God clearly when he wrote the following:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
In other words, the punishment that was fit for every man living under the curse of sin was laid upon Jesus. He was perfectly God and perfectly man, therefore He became the perfect sacrifice – or propitiation – for the sins of mankind. Jesus blotted out the ordinances of the law, fulfilling them by His perfect sacrifice.
In Jesus, the fire has fallen – once and for all – on His sacrifice.
Therefore, there may still be worship that is not pleasing to God but He’s not raining down fire to punish anyone. What God will do in the earth is rebuke according to His Word (2 Timothy 3:16).
Speaking of rebuke, there is a “Strange Fire” mentioned in the New Testament:
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? (Luke 9:54)
Sadly this is the kind of “Strange Fire” that persists today – a terrorist spirit that provokes God to rain down judgment upon all who are in disagreement with it. It’s “Strange,” indeed, that entire conferences are dedicated to decrying opposing thought – instead of pursuing a Kingdom mandate to win the lost of the world and to disciple the Saints. Jesus countered with a strong rebuke:
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Luke 9:55-56)
In Jesus’ eyes, the “Strange Fire” we need to be concerned with is that which destroys. The “Strange Fire” of today holds that miracles have ceased and that those who desire or manifest them are operating against God’s will and His Word.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, we need to consider the Words of Jesus:
And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. (Mark 9:38-40)
At the end-of-the-day, pointing out “Strange Fire” indicates a fear of what runs contrary to the established traditional, religious system. Instead of trying to decry and cower away from the Charismatic movement, traditional Christianity would do well to embrace the Words of the Lord and not strive to browbeat those who are different than them – but not against them.
If the teaching you hear purports to represent Christ but is devoid of the Love of God and Liberty in Christ – and fails to reveal the fullness of the Kingdom of God – it is, indeed, “Strange Fire.”
© 2013 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)