Symptom of Infection by the Evil Report (Proverbs 26:21)

1.0 The Infection

An Individual is said to be “infected” with “the evil-report” when he responds to “an evil-report” with human reasonings and emotions rather than with Scripture and God’s Love – Proverbs 14:15 “The simple (fool) believes every word; but the prudent (wise) man looks well to his going.”  

1.1 The Symptom

If the defilement of hearing “an evil-report” is not dealt with, wrong attitudes, opinions, conclusions, and actions will follow – Proverbs 26:21 “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” Even toward loves ones and close friends – Proverbs 16:28 “….a Whisperer separates chief (good) friends.” The symptoms of an infection:

  1. The Person believes the Carrier’s “evil-report” to be true without checking out the source and the reason for “the evil-report” – Proverbs 17:4 “A wicked (unwise) doer gives heed to false lips.”
  2. The Person develops negative opinions based on the Carrier’s “evil-report”- Proverbs 18:13 (Amp) “He who answers a matter before he hears (finds out) the facts, it is a folly and shame to him.”   
  3. The Person focuses on negative aspects of the person in “the evil-report” – Proverbs 21:28a, 29a “A false witness shall perish…..a wicked (unwise) person puts on the bold, unfeeling face (of guilt).”
  4. The Person interprets the Carrier of “the evil-report,” words and actions as “supporting evidence” – Management term: “Self-fulfilling Prophecy” – Proverbs 12:20a “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.”  God’s Word exhorts: Ecclesiastes 12:13a “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter (truth).” Thus, we are not to find-fault with incomplete evidences, but to hear out the whole matter (truth).
  5. The Person judges motives (intents) of the person in “the evil-report,” on the basis of “an evil-report” given by the Carrier – Proverbs 21:10a “The soul of the wicked (fool) desires evil.” Only God’s Word (Logos) can discern the person’s intentions and motives – Hebrews 4:12 “For the word (logos) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit; and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and   of the heart.”
  6. The Person avoidsBacks away (avoids) with the person, who is in “the evil-report,” without ascertain the accuracy of the evil-report – Proverbs 13:16a & 18:15 “Every prudent (wise) man acts with knowledge……The heart of the prudent (wise) acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
  7. The Person repeats “the evil-report” to others – Proverbs 17:9 (Amp) “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats and harps on a matter separates even close friends.”

Defilement by Evil Report (Proverbs 26:22)

1.0 Defilement

Defilement involves welcoming and receiving the Carrier of “the evil-report” and believe that “the evil-report” is true – Proverbs 26:22 “The words of a Talebearer (Whisperer) are as wounds. They go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” In the same way, that the person comes into contact with “an infectious-disease,” listening to “an evil-report” does defiled the person who receive it – Hebrews 12:16b “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

1.1 Absalom (2 Samuel 15)

A classic illustration of the influence and defilement of listening and accepting to “an evil-report” is in the work and person of Absalom – 2Samuel 15:1-13 – Absalom, the son of King David, used an innocent sounding evil report to steal the hearts of almost the whole Nation of Israel and lead it in revolt against his own father, King David. Absalom’s evil-report emphasized his “concern” for suffering people of Israel, his “deep-desire” that justice be done and his “ability” to be a better Administrator than his father, King David. Absalom acted out of bitterness because his father, King David does not bring judgement to Absalom’s half-brother for immorality (Amnon – 2Samuel 13:1-15), so he takes upon the matters into his own hands and was rejected for it (2Samuel 13:28-29). Absalom does Seven Things.

1.1.1 Gathered

Absalom, gathers and organizes a group that would be loyal to him rather than to King David, his father, whom he served – 2Samuel 15:1-2 “After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So, it was whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king (David) for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, ‘What city are you from?’ and he would say, ‘Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.’”

1.1.2 Plan

Absalom hatched a plan, to win the heart of the people of Israel – 2Samuel 15:3 “Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.”

1.1.3 Available

Absalom makes himself available to the people – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.

1.1.4 Discontentment

Absalom seeks out those who have grievance – 2Samuel 15:5 “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hands and take him and kiss him.

1.1.5 Personal Interest

Absalom shows personal interest to the person who has a complaint – 2Samuel 15:5 “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hands and take him and kiss him.”

1.1.6 On Behalf

Absalom takes up the offenses on behalf of those who have been hurt – 2Samuel 15:6a “In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the King (David) for judgement.”

1.1.7 Hearts Stolen

Absalom, “steals” the hearts of almost the whole Nation of Israel – 2Samuel 15:6b,12b, 13b “So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel…..And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number……The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.  

Absalom alienated the people of Israel from King David’s influence and authority by giving “an evil-report” about the leadership of King David: 

  • Absalom offered to be their Representative to make sure things are done right away – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
  • Absalom would use his position, as the son of David, to increase his influence over the people of Israel – 2Samuel 15:4 “Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made Judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
  • Absalom desired acceptance and recognition as well as authority – 2Samuel 15:6b,12b, 13b “So, Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel…..And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number……The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.

1.2 God’s Judgement

– Absalom became “a curse” in the Nation of Israel – Deuteronomy 21:23b “For he who is hanged is accursed of God.” – Absalom, in his defeat, tried to escape from David’s men and his head was caught in the branch of the tree – 2Samuel 18:9-10 “And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his (Absalom’s) head caught firmly in the oak, and he was suspended between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away…..Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Thus, fulfilled Deuteronomy 21:23b, “For he who is hanged is accursed of God.”

1.3 God Hates

The Book of Proverbs states that six things God hates and the seventh is an abomination to Him: Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: ‘A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” 

Exposure to Evil Reports (Proverb 27:12)

1.0 The Exposure

Exposure to “an evil-report” means entering into conversation and empathize with the person who is the Carrier of “an evil-report.”

  • God Desires – God desires that the Individual be the Prudent Person, who does not entertain “an evil-report” – Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple (fool) pass on and are punished.”
  • God WarnsPsalm 101:5 “Whosoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.”
  • God Expects – How does we respond to God’s Expectation – Romans 16:17 “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine (teaching) which you learned, and avoid them.” 

1.1 Discernment – How do we discern and detect the Carrier of “an evil-report:”

  • He Tests our spirit – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will usually test our spirit before giving us “the evil-report.” – Any evidence of a compatible spirit in us will encourage the Carrier to give us “the evil-report.”  – 2Corinthians 12:20b “Backbiting, whispering, conceits…..”
  • He Tests our Acceptance – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will usually check our acceptance of his “feed-back,” before giving the full-report to us. He may do this by asking for our opinion about the Person or Church, or dropping a negative comment and observes our response to it – Absalom, David’s son used an innocent sounding evil report to steal the hearts of almost an entire Nation of Israel and leads it in revolt against his own father, King David (2Samuel 15:1-6) – “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2Samuel 15:6b).
  • He Creates Curiosity – The Carrier of “an evil-report” will often get us to ask for the details of “the evil-report” by creating curiosity for it. Some starters are: “Have you heard about (this person)?” “Wait till I tell you about (this person)!” – Psalm 41:7-8 “All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt. An evil disease, they say, ‘cling to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’”
  • He Shares Concern? – The Carrier of “an evil-report” may get our attention by asking us for our counsel or by sharing a concern for the Person involved – this is a subtle deception, used by Satan on Adam’s wife, Eve (Genesis 3:1-6).
  • He Has Privileged Information? – The Carrier of “the evil-report” try to get us interested because he has “the inside-privileged information” –Shemaiah, who was working, as a Secret Informer, for the Opposers (Sanballat, Tobiah) who were against Nehemiah, tried to persuade Nehemiah that he has “secret-information” of the people who wanted to kill him (Nehemiah 6:10-14).    

1.2 Guidance

To avoid contamination by “an evil-report” we need God’s Written Word (Scripture) and the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, by sensing His (Spirit’s) promptings and be opened to the Counsel of God’s Leaders in His House. To detect “an evil-report;” these are five questions that we should ask before listening to the Carrier of “the evil-report:”

  • “What is his/her personal reason for telling us?” – Widening the circle of gossip can only increase the problem.
  • “Where did he/she get his/her information?” – Refusal to identify the source of the information is a sure signal of “an evil-report.”
  • “Have he/she gone to the Person directly to clarify?” – Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an Offender, but by how effectively we restore an Offender – Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him/her his fault between you and him ALONE. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” (Galatians 6:1-4).
  • “Have he/she personally checked out all of the facts?” – Even “facts” become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives.
  • “Can he/she be quoted if we check this out?” – The person who gives “an evil-report” often claim that he/she is “misquoted.” This is because his/her words and overriding impressions are reported, which may be distorted!

The Problems of Evil Report (Proverbs 16:28)

1.0 Definition

An Evil Report involves the distortion of facts or false information. It is given with wrong motivations and causes the Hearer to come to inaccurate conclusions and to respond with unscriptural “solutions.”  

1.1 Defilement

Listening to an evil-report results in defilementProverbs 16:28 “A Whisperer separates chief friends.”  Carrying an evil report to another person, is so destructive that it can destroy long-lasting friends. However, wrong doing should never be covered over but the exercise of correction is to be with God’s Wisdom, in a Scriptural manner – Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass (sin), you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1.2 Classification

From God’s Word, “an evil-report” could be classified into:   

  1. Whisperer – The person who secretly or privately passes “an evil-report” to others – Psalm 41:7 “All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt.” The person is also called “a Gossiper” (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:22).
    • Proverbs 18:8 (NIV) “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels (crumbs)they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”   
    • Proverbs 26:22 (NIV) “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels (crumbs); they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
  2. Gossip – The person who magnifies and sensationalizes rumors and partial information – Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer (gossip) are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”
  3. Slanderer – The person who seeks to destroy another’s credibility or reputation with damaging facts, distortions of facts, or evil suspicions – Numbers 14:36 “Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain him (Moses) by bringing a bad (evil) report of the land (Promised Land).”
    • Lucifer (later called Satan) slandered God and caused one-third of the Angelic Hosts to Fall (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Revelation 12:4).
    • Satan is the Slanderer (Accuser) of the brethren (Christians – Revelation 12:10b).
  4. Busybody – The person who digs up “an evil-report” and makes it his business to spread them by means of gossip, slander, or whispering. Such an action is associated with the sin of murder or stealing as shown in 1Peter 4:15 “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or as a thief or as an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’ matters.”      

1.3 Failure to Understand

The person who spreads “an evil-report” does not take heed of the damages that could result – 2 Corinthians 2:11 “Satan will gain an advantage over us if we are ignorant of his devices.” Satan’s scheme is to spread “an evil-report” and create division amongst the brethren – James 3:6 “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity (lawlessness)……it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.”  

  1. Failed to Understand of how the unclean defiles the clean, rather than the clean influencing the unclean – Haggai 2:11-13 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy’ Then the priests answered and said, ‘No.’ And Haggai said, it one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?’”
  2. Failed to Understand of how “an evil-report” destroys close friendship – Proverbs 17:9 “He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates good friends.”  
  3. Failed to Understand of what constitutes “an evil-report?” – “An evil-report” is an unauthorized or distorted report which influences us to form a poor or unwarranted opinion about another person – Proverbs 26:24-25 “He that hates dissembled with his lips, and lays up deceit within him, when he speaks fair, believe him not; for there are seven abominations in his heart.”   
  4. Failed to Understand the nature behind “an evil-report,” is self-seeking and self-promotionJames 3:14-16 “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
    • Bitterness – Reacting because of personal hurts.
    • Rebellion – Justifying an independent spirit.
    • Deception – Believing that “an evil-report” is the right thing to give.
    • Pride – Self-seeking and wanting to exalt-justify-self.
    • Guilt – Justifying past actions or attitudes.
    • Envy – Desiring what another has.
  5. Failed to Understand how susceptible we are to “an evil-report” – We enjoy hearing “an evil-report” because it puts down another person; this attitude is part of human Fallen-Nature – Proverbs 14:15 “The simple (fool) believes every word; but the prudent man looks well to his going.”  
  6. Failed to Understand that Satan uses “an evil-report” to damage and ultimately destroy a person or the ministry – Proverbs 26:21 “As coal are to burning and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”
    • To discredit spiritual leadership.
    • To cause Christians to close their hearts toward each other.
    • To multiply conflicts and produce ungodliness.

Biblical Meaning of Evil Speaking (James 4:11-12) (Part 2)

1.3 Usurping God’s Right & Authority

James 4:12 “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, who art thou that judges another? The argument enforcing the prohibition against backbiting and judging is stated in James 4:12, “there is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest another?” When we judged others and speak against them, we are, trying to push God off His Judgement Seat in order to place ourselves on it. This is an action of gross presumption because God’s Position is absolutely unique: 

First, God is the sole Lawgiver (James 4:12). His Law alone is of permanent significance. God may delegate various functions and responsibilities to human Representatives, but He permits no man to cancel or modify His Law. God has the exclusive right to judge because He alone is Lawgiver.

Second, God is the Supreme Judge of mankind (James 4:12). His judgements upon us are of eternal validity. He has the unique ability to both save and destroy. God says in Deuteronomy 32:39, “There is no gods besides Me. I put to death, and I bring to life, I have wounded, and I will heal, and no one can deliver from My hand.” God alone is competent to judge justly (1Corinthians 4:4-5). By being critical and judgemental of our brothers we are usurping a prerogative which belongs only to God. God does not permit any man to share His Judgement Seat as He alone is “able to save and to destroy.”  The latter word means that God is LORD of life and death. He has absolute power to do with men whatever He pleases. There may be in the words a special reference to God’s Judgement of men at the end of the Age. 

James concluded his command with “a devastating shaft of withering frankness” (Mitton). The contrast: God “is able to save and to destroy;” but “who are thou?” Mrs Montgomery expresses well the stress of the Greek: “But you, who are you, to be condemning your brother?” The manner of statement emphasises the profound scorn of James for a person who judges his brother/sister and thus set himself against and above God’s Law. For us to judge others, therefore, is to take upon ourselves a right which is God’s; it is an infringement of God’s prerogative. We do well to ask ourselves, “Who am I to judge my brother?” or as Paul says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his master own master, he stands or falls” (Romans 14:4). If we appreciate the presumptuousness of our judging others, we will tremble at the thought of engaging in it. We will all find ourselves tempted to be impatience with, and criticism of, other people’s behaviour at times; but it is a temptation we must overcome. However, James 4:11-12 do not teach that we should let my brothers and sisters go on in sin without speaking to them about it. We must not criticise the person in front of other people but should speak to him alone about his sin. If he repents, nothing more needs to be done.

If not, then we should visit him again with one or two other believers as taught in Matthew 18:15-17 and Galatians 6:1; he should be judged in a public way only after he does not accept the advice of all the Believers who speak to him privately and he still refused to repent.

1.4 Application

Charles Simeon, whose ministry in Cambridge was so influential, wrote a letter to a friend in July 1817 on how to cope with evil-speaking. The advice he gave was excellent and is as good a guide now as when it was first written; “the longer I live, the more I feel the importance of adhering to the rules which I have laid down for myself in relation to such matters:”

  • “1st, it hears as little as possible what is to the prejudice of others;”
  • “2nd, to believe nothing of the kind till I am absolutely forced to it;”
  • “3rd, never to drink into the spirit of one who circulates an ill report;”
  • “4th, always to moderate, as far as I can, the unkindness which is expressed towards others;”
  • “5th, always to believe, that if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.”

Biblical Meaning of Evil Speaking (James 4:11-12) (Part 1)

1.0 The Statement

God hates all sin, but there are a few sins that are constantly and strongly condemned by Scripture – judging others by condemning, criticising, backbiting, gossiping, speaking evil, and talking about them – is one of the sins that Scripture never lets up on; judging others is severely condemned (Proverbs 6:19b “He that soweth discord among brethren.”). James also tells us not to criticise our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we criticise others, we are really saying that we are better than they; it is very easy to judge others, but it can do a lot of harm. It breaks up friendship and causes unhappiness and evil feeling between us and our brothers or sisters. There is strong tendency:

  • For the good person to judge and criticise the “evil” person.
  • For the gifted person to judge and criticise the less gifted.
  • For the energetic person to judge and criticise the lazy.

All of us are guilty of the sin of “speaking evil” of others. James 4:11-12 is closely connected with the thought of James 4:10. It should be understood as an illustration of what happened in a life void of humility. Disparaging (unfavourable) criticism of others is an expression of human pride. The person who indulges in it sets himself above both the person he criticises and the Divine Law which forbids it.  On the other hand, there is a connection with the entire preceding verses (James 4:1-10), as pointing up another way in which the worldly mind expresses itself:

  • Lust for pleasure and self-gratification (James 4:1-10) is one way.
  • Harsh criticism, one of bitter fruit of the lust which war in our member, must have contributed to, and been a part of, the feud and faction mentioned at the beginning of James chapter 4.

1.1 Evil Speaking

James 4:11 “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his borther, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge.” The verb “speaketh not evil” (James 4:11a) means to slander and twice as to “speak against” (James 4:11b & 11c). To slander is to speak against someone. Slander is:

  • To imitate the Devil, whose name “diabolos” means “Slanderer” (Revelation 12:9-10) – “Accuser of the brethren.”
  • A character of “old life” –   We need to recognise that slander belongs to our old life, and we need to be rid of it (Ephesians 4:31 – “evil speaking”).
  • Slander will not only hinder our spiritual growth, but it will ruin any testimony we may possess to the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • It is impossible to be in a right relationship with God and at the same time to indulge in slander (1Corinthians 5:11).

James’ exhortation concerning slander needs to be applied not only to the Christian in his personal or one-to-one relationship but also to the corporate relationship in the Body of Christ. One group of Christians can so easily slip into the snare of slandering another, especially if they have a varying emphasis on some point of doctrine. We need to be on guard whenever the question is asked, “have you heard what is going on at present at such and such a Church?”

To “speak evil” of a person is to find fault with him, to speak disparagingly (unfavourably) of him, to gossip maliciously about him. To “speak evil” means “to talk against, to defame, to slander” – literally, “to talk down” another person; it is a sin mentioned elsewhere in the Bible as:

  • Backbiting (2Corinthians 12:20).
  • Slander (1Peter 2:1).
  • Romans 1:30 mentions it, along with other gross sins, as a trait of the reprobate (degenerated) mind.
  • Malicious talk (1Timothy 6:4) – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts” (Proverbs 26:22).
  • Saying things that ought not to be said at all (1Timothy 5:13).
  • False testimony (Deuteronomy 5:20).
  • The spreading of false reports (Exodus 23:11).
  • The unhelpful repeating of stories about wrongs or offences (Proverbs 17:9).

1.2 The Consequences

James 4:11 “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his borther, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge.” James here equates it with judging our brother, a sin expressly forbidden by Christ (Matthew 7:1-5) Our Lord Jesus reminds us that the person who quickly judges others and speaks against them is the man who knows very little of himself and of his own sinfulness and is strongly condemned by Paul (Romans 14:4,10,13):

  1. Commands us not to speak evil (slander) one of another – “Speak not evil one of another, brethren” (James 4:11a). The knowledge of our own failings makes us more and more hesitant about expressing any form of criticism of others. The man who knows himself learns an increasing silence before other people’s faults.

     Story, the dreadful effects of slander in the life of David Livingstone, the famous Missionary to Africa. To save his wife from some of the hardships that were inevitable in the initial stages of establishing a home for her with him, he left her in a secure place until he had prepared a home for her at Lake Nyassa. But people began to talk unkindly, suggesting that he and his wife did not get on well together and that Mrs Livingstone was not a help to her husband. Dr. Livingstone was so troubled by these insinuations that he sent for his wife, she came, only to become ill and die. What a dreadful responsibility rests upon those who indirectly caused her death with their gossips.
  2. Judging Others – Speaking evil (slander) is judging others – “He that speaketh evil of his brother and judgeth his brother” (James 4:11b). Slander and judging others are frequently linked; it is virtually impossible to speak against another person without falling into the trap of judging him. When we speak against a brother – which is slander – we are usually saying that he has either done something wrong or that he has left undone something that he ought to have done. We may pass our remarks off as simply the expression of our opinion, but the truth is that we are passing judgement on another person, judging him.

    Story, a story is toldof a Christian teacher of the 16th century who one day found himself faced with a woman who confessed herself to be a Slanderer, “do you frequently fall into this fault?” he inquired; “yes, very often,” she admitted. “Your fault,” he said, “is great but the mercy of God is still greater. Go to the nearest market and purchase a chicken, just killed, and still covered with feathers. You will then walk a certain distance, plucking the bird as you go along. When you’ve finished your walk, return to me here.”  The woman went to the market, bought the chicken, and set out on the journey, plucking it as she went alone, just as she had been instructed. In a short time, she returned, anxious to relate how exactly she had done what she had been told, and to see what it all meant. “Ah,” said her teacher, “you have been very faithful to the first part of my orders. Retrace your steps and gather up one by one all the feathers you have scattered;” “but,” explained the woman, “I cast them carelessly on every side, the wind carried them in every direction. How can I recover them?” “Well,” he replied, “so it is with your words of slander; like the feathers, they have been scattered. Call them back if you can. Go, and sin no more.”
  3. Violates God’s Law – Speaking evil of others violates the Law of God – “Speaketh evil of the Law” (James 4:11c). James says that when we speak against our brother and judge him, we speak against the Law, and judge the Law. If we fall into the snare of judging someone, knowing full well before hand that I ought not to do so, I am saying in effect that God’s Law – His Royal Law (James 2:8) which says that I must love my neighbour as myself – has no binding power on me and can be ignored. I act as if I judge God’s Law to be of no real consequence. To love my neighbour as myself must, at the very least, mean protecting his reputation as I would want my own to be protected. But if I judge my neighbour, I’m saying that God’s Law can be ignored. And that is the most serious violation. Charles Simeon says, “Let us sit upon the seat of love instead of judgement.”
  4. Acted as a Law-Giver – Speaking evil of others sets the person up as judge, as a lawgiver” – “But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law but a judge” (James 4:11d). The other way in which we speak against the Law and even presume to judge it by engaging in slander or speaking against our brother is that we are saying, in effect, that we don’t feel that we can wait for the Law and the Judge (God) to do their job. By our own word of judgement, we imply that we need to anticipate the Judge’s (God’s) action. By implication we are judging the Lawgiver as being either dilatory (slow) or inadequate; otherwise, why do we ourselves rush into judgement? For this reason, James adds the warning: “When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it.”  The person who “speak evil” of his brother and sister is breaking the Law which commands him “to love his neighbour as he loves himself – the Royal Law” (James 2:8; Leviticus 19:18).

    James says this person is really judging God’s Law; in effect he sets himself above God’s Law and declares that he is above God’s Law. Such a person removes himself from the category of “a Doer of the Law” and becomes “a Judge of the Law” (James 4:11c). Once slander has been spoken, it is virtually impossible to do anything about it; even to try and undo the harm that has been done may only aggravate the situation by drawing attention afresh to the false statement that has been made.

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..

The Antidote for Anxiety (Phillippians 4:6-7) (Part 2)

1.5 Robber of Joy

Anxiety (worry) is the greatest thief of joy. The theology of “joy” is found in the Book of Philippians:

  • The word “joy/rejoice” is used 19 times in the Book of Philippians. The Book of Philippians is called “Book of Joy!”
  • Mind is mentioned 10 times; think 5 times; remember 1 time (total = 16 times).
  • The Name “Christ” is mentioned 50 times in the Book of Philippians.

1.6 The Antidote for Anxiety (Worry)

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

1.6.1 God Commands

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” God says: “Be not anxious about anything.” The question is “can a Christian avoids anxiety (worry) and possesses a calm and confident spirit that bears testimony to the sufficiency of God’s Grace?” God’s Word encourages the person to talk to God “about everything.” Paul does not exhort the person to pray about his anxiety (worry). He is too wise to do that; he uses three different words to describe prayer:

  1. Prayer – The word prayer is the general word and carries the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship. Whenever the person finds himself anxious (worrying), his first response ought to be alone with God and worship Him. In the adoration and worship, the person begins to see God’s Greatness and Majesty! He will begin to realise that God is bigger than his problems. Too often the person rushes into God’s Presence and hastily tells Him his needs or problems when he ought to approach Him in deep adoration and worship.
  2. Supplication is an earnest sharing of his needs and problems with God – talk it out with God – “Let your requests be made known unto God.” There is no place for half-hearted approach to God for help. The person must come with assurance that God hears his prayer. The Heavenly Father wants him to be earnest in his asking (Matthew 6:7-8). The small affairs of life as well as the big ones are important. Most of the time, the problem has a “small beginning” but if not properly handled, it escalates into “a big thing.” Nothing is too trivial to bring to God. Talking to God about “everything” is the first step towards victory over anxiety (worry). God exhorts us: “To cast all our care upon Him; for He careth for us” (1Peter 5:7). Psalm 55:22 (NIV) “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”
  3. Thanksgiving – After prayer (adoration & worship), supplication (sharing one’s needs & problems with God) comes appreciation, giving thanks to God. When Jesus healed ten lepers, only one of the ten returned to give thanks (Luke 17:11-19) and wonder if the percentage is any higher today. Thanksgiving stimulates faith and hope for the present and the future. The person gives thanks to God for past mercies. The memory of them gives him confidence. It is easy to thank God when there is no trouble, but it is more needful when trouble comes. Cultivate the habit of remembering the everyday’s blessings and never stop to thank God for them. A person should be anxious (worry) for nothing, prayerful for everything, and thankful for anything.

1.6.2 God’s Promise

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  1. The Antidote – The antidote for anxiety (worry) is “the Peace of God.” The Peace of God comes to the person who prays (adoration, worship), supplicates, and gives thanks
    • Serenity – The Peace of God is that inward serenity grounded in God’s Presence, God’s Promise, and God’s Power. It ministers to the person’s mind and heart.
    • Peace – Every Christian can have the Peace of God because every Christian knows how to pray, supplicates, and gives thanks.
    • Confidence – This does not mean the absence of trails in the person’s life, but it is the quiet confidence in God, regardless of circumstances, people, or things.
    • In Salvation, the person experiences “the Peace with God” – Romans 5:1 (KJV) “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God describes the state between God and the person. Every Christian experienced “Peace with God.” But not every Christian has the “Peace of God.” Peace with God is dependent upon faith (Romans 5:1), whereas the “Peace of God” is dependent upon Prayer (adoration & worship), supplication and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).
  2. Guards – The Peace of God Guards (“stands Guard” – phroureó) over two areas that create anxiety (worry) – the heart (wrong feeling) and the mind (wrong thinking). The word “Guards” is a military term meaning “to guard or garrison.”
    • Guards – Peace of God stands guard as an armed sentinel and watches over the heart and mind of that person who prays (worships & adoration), supplicates, and gives thanks:
    • Prevents – The Peace of God guards the person’s heart and mind from being overwhelmed by the sudden onrush of fear and anxiety.
    • Stability – The Peace of God maintains the person’s mental equilibrium and gives him emotional stability.
    • Secures – The Peace of God secures his mind and heart and guides him.
  3. God’s Peace Surpasses all power of human reason or comprehension – Philippians 4:7b “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” in the Greek, the phrase indicates a unique kind of Peace transcending every human thought. It is not, therefore, merely greater in degree than that provided by earthly consideration, but a totally different in kind. God’s Peace far surpasses all the careful planning and clever ideas as to how the person can resolve his own anxiety (worry). God’s Peace is “Perfect Peace” – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3, KJV). The “Peace of God” is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ – “Through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7c).
  4. Personal Responsibility – Colossians 3:15 (NKJV) “Let (allow) the peace of God rules in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
    • Guards – God’s Sovereignty is “to Guard” the person’s mind and heart (Philippians 4:8).
    • Allows – The person’s responsibility is to “let – allow” (Colossians 3:15) the Peace of God to “Rule” (“to preside;” “to umpire”). The Peace of God is the “Umpire” in the person’s heart and mind.
    • Harmony – If the person has Peace of God “Ruling” (“umpiring”) in his mind and heart, he will be at peace with the others – Colossians 3:15a (NKJV) “Let (allow) the peace of God rules in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body.” The person is called to one Body of Christ and his relationship in that Body must be one of harmony and peace.
    • Thankful – Continuously maintain “a spirit of thankfulness” at all times – “be thankful” (Colossians 3:15b).

1.7 Summary

Anxiety (worry), the unpredictable thing of life, handled according to Divine Principles (Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 3:15), becomes the means of the unexplainable Peace of God; acting as a Garrison in the person’s mind and heart, as he meets situations, people, and problems, in his daily life.

1.8 Application

(1) Apostle Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. God’s answer came back each time, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2Corinthians 12:9). The conditions have not changed, but Paul’s heart is changed and his attitude toward his affliction changed because of the reassuring Word of God. (2) Daniel gives us a good illustration of peace through prayer. When the King of Babylon announced that none of his subjects was to pray to anyone except the King, Daniel went to his room, opened the windows, and prayed as before (Daniel 6:1-10). Daniel “prayed and gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10) and he made supplication (Daniel 6:11). Prayer-Supplication-Thanksgiving! And the result was perfect peace in the midst of difficulty! Daniel was able to spend the night with the lion in perfect peace, while the King in his palace could not sleep (Daniel 6:18).

1.9 Historical

The Philippians lived under an all-embracing political regime – the Imperial Roman Empire – which prided itself on having subjugated the known world so bringing to every nation the benefits of the “pax Romana,” the Roman Peace. This Roman Peace is maintained by garrisoning troops all around the Empire to put down uprisings and to quell dissent. In the final analysis Rome keeps its Peace by the crosses it erected to execute those who disturbed that, Peace. However, the Garrison God puts in the person’s heart and mind is “the Peace of God.”

The Antidote for Anxiety (Phillippians 4:6-7) (Part 1)

1.0 The Background

Paul wrote the Epistle to the Philippians while he was a Prisoner of Rome, under house arrest. He was chained between the Romans Guards 24 hours a day for 2 years. The Romans Guards worked on an 8 hours’ shift. Furthermore, Paul faced the possible death sentence. Also, the care of the Churches in Asia Minor was also upon his heart. Furthermore, there was also dispute in the Philippians Church between Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2). This dispute was bringing division into the Church. Paul has to face division among the Believers at Rome (Philippians 1:14-17). If anybody has an excuse for anxiety (worry), it was Paul. He has a good excuse to be anxious (worry) – but he did not! Instead, he took time in Philippians 4:6-7 to explain to us the secret of overcoming anxiety (worry)

1.1 The Text

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

1.2 Statement

Some people are more prone to anxiety (worry) than others, in the same way that some are more susceptible to colds. Anxiety (worry) vary in intensity and complexity; some are trivial, and others are what Sherlock Homes called “a three-pipe problem,” that is, practically insurmountable. Some people make anxiety (worry) pays and others pay dearly for their anxiety (worry). Problems give rise to anxiety (worry). Anxiety (worry) must be dealt with, not with the person’s own ingenuity, but with God’s.

Philippians 4:6 introduces the antidote for anxiety (worry) of what is promised in Philippians 4:7, that is, unless anxiety (worry) is dealt with according to God’s Word, there is no hope of receiving “the Peace of God.”

1.3 What is Anxiety (Worry)?

Anxiety (worry) is “not the forethought which enables a person to guard against coming troubles, but the useless and painful care which merely brings the sorrow of tomorrow to spoil the pleasures of today” (Beet, p.113).

  1. The Greek word translated anxious (worry) in Philippians 4:6 means “to be pulled in different directions;” that is, a person’s hope pulls him in one direction; the person’s fear pulls him in the opposite direction; and he is pulled apart
  2. English – The Old English root from which we get the word “anxious” (worry) means “to strangle.” The person who is anxious (worries) feels “the strangulation,” that result in “headaches, neck pains, ulcers, even back pains.”
  3. Biblical – From the biblical perspective, anxiety (worry) is (a) “Wrong Thinking”Proverbs 23:7a (NKJV) “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”
    • The word “heart” (soul – Heb: “nephesh”) means “conscious and sub-conscious mind” – subconscious (85% to 90% of mind) – begins with “a thought, then action, then habit is formed, resulting in the development of his character and reaping his destiny.”
    • A single “thought,” if left unchecked will develop into “a Stronghold” (2Corinthians 10:4).

      (b) Wrong Feeling (the heart) about circumstances, people, and things.  If “wrong thinking” and “wrong feeling” is not managed, it results in strong-hold!”  – 2Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV) “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down of strongholds. Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, brining every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

1.4 Medical Evidence

Anxiety (worry) affects our thinking, our digestion, and even our coordination and is now recognised by doctors as a disease (“dis-ease”):

  1. Dr. James W. Barton said, “It is known that about one half of the patients consulting a doctor have no organic disease. In about one-fourth of the cases, the cause of the symptoms is tenseness or worry, strain, and fatigue….prolonged shock or fear (which is worry) can affect the workings of all organs of the body.”
  2. Dr. Alverez (formerly of Mayo Clinic) said, “Worry is the cause of most stomach troubles.”
  3. Dr. Han Selye, writing about the stress theory of disease, said, “Stress is the trigger which causes disease.”
  4. Dr. Emerson, an outstanding Christian Psychologist, stated there are five underlying causes (not all) of mental illness and frustration (often caused by anxiety {worry}, and often the cause of physical illness): “Fear, hate, guilt, inferiority, and insecurity.” These may be analysed as follows:
    • A super sensitivity to criticism.
    • An excessive awareness of his weaknesses.
    • An abnormal pride of his achievements.
    • An unobtainable ambition beyond his ability.
    • An absorbing jealousy over the success of others.
    • A sinful covetousness of things beyond his reach (or financial means).
  5. Psychologists warned that a healthy person may be transformed into an invalid in a few months by anxiety (worry). Clinical case histories in the offices of doctors and institutions all over the world bear ample proof of this.
    • Doctor cannot cure the “disease of anxiety (worry).” He can give tranquilizers to keep the person from “exploding” but when the effect of the medicine wears off the tensions remained, the basic cause remains. The doctor can give the person sleeping pills and help him to forget for a few hours, but when he awakes, the problem is still there.
    • Psychiatrist cannot cure anxiety (worry). He can probe into the person’s subconscious mind to discover the reason, but when he finds it, he is able to treat the symptoms but not the underlying cause. 
    • Counsellor telling the person “Not to be anxious (worry)” is not going to work. The person who is anxious (worries) is the person who is most anxious not to be anxious (worry) and is the most hurt by it and unhappy about it. Anxiety (worrying) is an “internal problem,” and it takes more than good intention to obtain the victory.

To be continued….. Stay tuned…..

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3) (Part 3)

God’s Judgement

Leviticus 10:2 (KJV) “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” The killing of Nadab and Abihu seemed too severe. Why not the exclusion of them from the Priest’s Office and excommunication of them from the Congregation of the LORD? Why the extreme penalty (death) for one act of error in Worship?  Is it thus a question of theodicy? The gravity of Nadab and Abihu’s sin was beyond human comprehension. The answer is manifold:

Point 1:

God instituted the “Divine Order” in Worship/Prayer and there was an infraction (breach) on the part of Nadab and Abihu.

Point 2:

Both Nadab and Abihu have “mountain-top” experience with God – Exodus 24:1(KJV) “And He (the LORD) said unto Moses, come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship afar off.” But that experience did not insulate them from this presumptuous act:

  • Furthermore, they were trained and anointed Priests.
  • Their deed was (as has been explained) an act of wilful and wanton disobedience.

Point 3:

Nadab’s and Abihu’s deed was committed by those who were in high position. It was the “sin of presumption” (Number 15:30) on the part of the Persons in the enjoyment of high privilege, and in the exercise of great influence.

Point 4:

The “sin of presumption” was done in the Holy Place before God and His people. It was disobedience in connection with the Public Worship/Prayer of Jehovah (the LORD). If judgement from God did not come forth, the attitude and Worship/Prayer, by the Leaders and People, of the Nation of Israel, would be adversely affected! This judgement reminds the Leaders and the People of God’s Holiness and thus, save many others from similar transgression!

Point 5:

The sin of Nadab and Abihu marred the full effect of the good purpose of God on the very day of the consecration of the Priests. This sin was a “sin of presumption” (Numbers 15:30).

The “Fire from the LORD” was the same Fire stated in Leviticus 9:24. The Fire was the same; the Source of Fire was the same; the effect was the same, and yet how different! In fact, the “Fire from the LORD” is mentioned 12 times in the Old Testament, six for advantage and six for disadvantage. Both Nadab and Abihu were struck dead at the door of the Tabernacle, and died before the LORD:

  • It was a sad reminder that both Nadab and Abihu have no children (Numbers 3:4; 1Chronicles 24:2) when they died. This was an indication of their youthful impulsiveness! Their ministry of assisting their father, Aaron, the high priest was taken over by their brothers: Eleazar and Ithamar (Numbers 3:4; 1Chronicles 24:2).
  • What a contrast between the two scenes! Aaron and Moses entered the Tabernacle and returned to bless the People (Leviticus 9:23). The People rejoiced because of the affirmation of Aaron’s Ministry by Fire of God consuming the Sacrifice (Leviticus 9:24). Nadab and Abihu approached the same sacred place were killed by the Fire from the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-3).

God’s Glory

Leviticus 10:3 (KJV) “Then Moses said unto Aaron, this is it that the LORD spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Moses used the judgement of Nadab and Abihu to illustrate precisely what God meant by Holiness and Separation, in order that the bereaved father and the people might understand:

Point 1:

To the heathen of the land, in the time of the O.T., the concept of holiness meant nothing more than the Person or an Object being consecrated to the Service of the Deity.

Point 2:

For the Israelites holiness was an ethical attribute of the Divine Character which must be reflected in their own lives and behaviour since they were bounded by Covenant to their God. There are two basic aspects to this relationship which has always to be at the forefront of the Israelites’ minds:

  • The Covenant proceeds from God’s Love (hesed).
  • The Covenant demands a response from the Israelites of unqualified obedience.

The Lessons on the Judgement

Since Nadab and Abihu scorned God’s Word, now Moses pronounces it – it is the authority for Worship. The Lessons on the judgement of Nadab and Abihu are:

  1. God will not allow His Sanctity: “I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me.” (Leviticus 10:3b, KJV) to be violated or diminished by the Priest, that is, “those who draw near” (Leviticus 9:7,8, KJV):
    • God will be treated as Person set apart during Worship/Prayer. If not, God will defend His Own Honour, as He has done in the case of Nadab and Abihu,
    • God will be Sanctified either by the obedience or by the punishment of those “who comes near Him,” that is, His Priests.
  2. That God’s will vindicate His Law in unmistakable way: “And before all the people I will be glorified.” (Leviticus 10:3c KJV). The Priest has greater privilege and therefore greater responsibility (Matthew 11:21).
  3. That God’s will vindicate His Law in unmistakable way: “And before all the people I will be glorified.” (Leviticus 10:3c KJV). The Priest has greater privilege and therefore greater responsibility (Matthew 11:21).
  4. The conduct of Aaron under the bereavement was most instructive. He “held his peace.” He did not murmur against God for the judgement upon his sons (Nadab and Abihu). Moses soothed him by showing that it was a necessary act of justice – “Then Moses said unto Aaron, this is it that the LORD spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3a, KJV).   

Under the Old Testament, the forms of Worship/Prayer appointed by God are typical. The necessity of obedience to God’s Word – The questions which alone the Priests must ask were: “Does this injunction came from God? And did it affect us?” If so, they must obey it without respect to consequences, and they may not substitute for it a course of action which appeared to themselves better adapted to affect the end which they supposed to be in view. The necessity of obedience in Worship/Prayer – God knows how He wills to be worshipped, and why He should be worshipped. Under the New Covenant, God has appointed two rites – the Sacrament of Baptism (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-28), which are beneficial in the observance.

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3) (Part 2)

The Sin of Nadab & Abihu

Leviticus 10:1-3 (KJV) “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 command 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 spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” The judgement of Nadab and Abihu followed the solemn consecration of Aaron and his sons and the beginnings of the ministrations of the Aaronic Priesthood.

God often judges severely when He was instituting something new and there was an infraction (breach), as with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3); violation of the Sabbath day (Numbers 15:32-36); and even the lying of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). God wanted all to know the seriousness of presumption and disobedience. God made a graphic example of its results as a warning to others. Everything that Nadab and Abihu did were wrong.

Point 1:

Nadab and Abihu were the wrong people to handle the incense and presenting it to the LORD. This was the responsibility of Aaron, their father, the High Priest. Nadab and Abihu were usurping, in a blatant manner, the responsibilities of the High Priest in the Priestly Hierarchy:

  • Exodus 30:7 (KJV) “And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamp, he shall burn incense upon it.”
  • Exodus 30:8 (KJV) “And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at evening, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generation.”
  • Exodus 30:9 (KJV) “Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burn sacrifice, nor meal offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.”
  • Exodus 30:10 (KJV) “And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.”   

Nadab and Abihu presumed to do what God has not commanded them – Leviticus 10:1b (KJV) “Which He (God) commanded them not.” They tried to take over the responsibility of the High Priest.

Point 2:

Nadab and Abihu used the wrong censers, their own censers instead of the censer of the High Priest, sanctified by the special anointing oil – Exodus 40:9 (KJV) “And thou (Aaron) shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.”

Point 3:

Nadab and Abihu acted at the wrong time, for it was only on the annual Day of Atonement that the High Priest was permitted to take the incense into the Most Holy Place, and even them he has to submit to a special ritual – Leviticus 16:1 (KJV) “And the LORD spoke unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD and died.” The whole special ritual is recorded in Leviticus 16.

Point 4:

Nadab and Abihu acted on their own, – under “the wrong authority. They did not consult Moses or their father, Aaron, nor do they sought to follow the Word of God, which was given to Moses. The action of Nadab and Abihu comprised a blatant act of disobedience and constitutes an act of defiance towards God. This was the force of the words: “Which He (the LORD) commanded them not” (Leviticus 10:1b, KJV).

  • Nadab’s and Abihu’s sin was not in doing what is forbidden, but in doing what was not enjoined (commanded) – “Which He (the LORD) commanded them not” (Leviticus 10:1b, KJV).
  • Nadab and Abihu set Divinely Constituted Authority at naught, which amounted to the despising of God’s Authority.
  • This was the very sin of Korah and his Company (Number 16).
  • Nadab and Abihu introduced confusion by intruding into the Office of the High Priest.

The penalty of being “cut off,” prescribed in Numbers 15:30 for sins of deliberate intent against Covenantal Requirements, was put into dramatic effect – “But the soul that doeth anything presumptuously, whether he is born in the land, or a sojourner, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among His people” (Numbers 15:30 (KJV).

Point 5:

Nadab and Abihu wrongly access into – their offering of fire “before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1b, KJV) seems to imply that they tried to press “within the veil” into the Holy of Holies where the Shekinah Glory of God dwelt. This seems to be the explanation, given in Leviticus 16:1-2. None but the High Priest, and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement, has the right of access to the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:12). Nadab and Abihu deliberately disobeyed God’s Word and asserted themselves in the process of handling Sacred Service.

Point 6:

Nadab and Abihu used the wrong fire (“strange fire,” KJV; “unauthorized fire,” NIV) to burn their incense:

  • Fire “from before the LORD” (Leviticus 9:24) has kindled the “Altar of Burnt Offering” (Brazen Altar) the flame which the Priests was to keep alive (Leviticus 6:12-13).
  • No commandment has yet been given on how the incense should be kindred. It was only given in Leviticus 16:12-13.
  • Nadab and Abihu offered “strange fire,” fire not taken from the “Altar of Burnt Offering” (Brazen Altar), but fire from the boiling of sacrificial flesh. This fire was not kindled by the LORD but by man.
  • Leviticus 16:12-13 (KJV) “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil. And he (Aaron) shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD that the cloud of the incense may cover the Mercy Seat that is upon the testimony that he (Aaron) dies not.” It was ordered that on the Day of Atonement, the incense fire should be taken from the Brazen Altar (“Altar of Burnt Offering”), and this was no doubt the requirement on all occasions, though the Law has not been recorded.

The sin of Nadab and Abihu was in acting in the things of God without seeking the mind of God. It was “will worship” (Colossians 2:23). “Will-worship” is offensive to God. Two Prohibitions were given in Exodus 30:7-10, concerning Worship:

  • No “strange incense” was to be offered. This speaks of simulated or purely formal Worship – Exodus 30:9a (KJV) “Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon.”
  • No “strange fire” (Leviticus 10:1-3) was permitted. This may refer to substitution for devotion to the LORD of any other devotion, as to religious causes or sects (1Corinthians 1:11-13; Colossians 2:8, 16-19; Exodus 30:38).
  • Exodus 30:9 teaches that no incense was to be offered on the Altar apart from the Daily Offering – thus, Nadab and Abihu were killed because they offer an additional Sacrifice – Exodus 30:9 (KJV) “Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, no meal (meat) offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.” Both Nadab and Abihu were making an offering in a different way from that which God has commanded.

Exodus 30:34-36 gave the prescription for incense. Incense was symbolic of Worship/Prayer (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3-4; Luke 1:9-10), because its fragrance rises into the air as true Worship/Prayer rises to God. Exodus 30:37-38 sounds the warning about the incense (Worship/Prayer).  What was condemned in Exodus 30:37-38 was the making of Worship/Prayer a mere pleasure to the natural man – Exodus 30:37-38 (NIV) “Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from his people.” God seeks true Worshipper (John 4:23-24).

Point 7:

Nadab and Abihu acted from the wrong motive and did not seek to Glorify God – improper offering of incense on the part of the Priests would detract from God’s Glory, and this Glory of God was not to be robbed – Leviticus 10:3 (KJV)Then Moses said unto Aaron, this is it that the LORD spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” The action of Nadab and Abihu did not:

  • Set God Apart: “I will be sanctified” (Leviticus 10:3b)
  • Glorified God: “I will be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3c).

We do not know the secret of their hearts, but we get the impression that what Nadab and Abihu did was a wilful Act of Pride. Their desire was not to sanctify and glorify the LORD but to promote themselves and their importance.

Point 8:

Nadab and Abihu may be under the influence of alcohol as implied in Leviticus 10:9-10 (KJV) “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, not thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations; and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.” This is a reminder of Ephesians 5:18 (KJV) “And be not drunk with wine….but be filled with the Spirit.”

Point 9:

Nadab and Abihu did not do what was prescribed to be done as Priests, leading the people in Worship/Prayer. They acted independently of the Revelation of God regarding proper Worship/Prayer. Leviticus chapters 8 to 9, the refrain appears: “Just as Yahweh had commanded” (12 times – Leviticus 8:4a, 5b, 9b, 13b, 17b, 21b, 29b, 34b, 36b; 9:6b, 7b, 10b) and Nadab and Abihu did that “which the LORD had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1b, KJV). The point was clear: Nadab and Abihu drew near to God in an aberrant (deviant) manner, one that was not in accordance with God’s Word. It was, therefore, a deliberate disobedience. In place of God’s Word, they thrust self-will and personal caprice (whim).

To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..