555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

179. What Is Meant by "Strange Fire"?

The "strange fire" mentioned in Lev. 10:1, 2 is understood to mean that Nadab and Abihu, instead of taking fire into their censers from the brazen altar, took common fire which had not been consecrated, and thus were guilty of sacrilege. They had witnessed the descent of the miraculous fire from the cloud (see chapter 9*24), and they were under solemn obligation to use that fire which was specially appropriated to the altar service. But instead of doing so, they became careless, showing want of faith and lamentable irreverence, and their example, had it been permitted to pass unpunished, would have established an evil precedent The fire that slew them issued from the most holy place, which is the accepted interpretation of the words, "from the Lord." Besides, the two young priests had already been commanded (or warned) not to do the thing they did (verse 2). They had undertaken to perform acts which belonged to the high priest alone, and even to intrude into the innermost sanctuary. See the warnings in Ex. 19:22 and Lev. 8:35.