Vol. 11 No. 6 June 2009
Ernest S. Underwood
As we continue our study of New Testament church worship, let us be sure that we truly do examine ourselves “as to whether you (we) are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). There are many excellent examples in the Bible showing that man must worship God according to His commands, rather than just how one might prefer to do so. One such example is found in Leviticus 10:1-2. Here the record states: “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. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” If one reads the entire account, plus reading God’s commands about the duties of the priests, he will see that a certain fire was required to be used in the lighting of the incense in the tabernacle. Sanctified fire had to be used, and the altar of burnt offering is the only place where such fire could be found. In this account, we have the right people (sons of the high priest), who were at the right place (the altar of incense), for the right purpose (to offer worship to God). However, the record states that these two men offered profane (strange - KJV) fire which the Lord had not commanded. Notice the results: God sent down fire from heaven and killed those men. Why? Because they offered worship that was not authorized by God.
Is this not the same kind of worship of which Jesus spoke? “‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9). QUESTION: Was this “strange fire” worship a “heaven or hell matter?”
In another example, Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law from God, while down in the valley Aaron had made a golden calf for the people to worship. In Exodus 32:8-10 we read: “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff‑necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.’”
As one comes to the New Testament, he learns that God has specified the kind of music He wants in the church. It matters not that under the Old Testament different types of worship were offered. That Law was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross. (cf. Colossians 2:14). The only kind of music authorized by God for use in worship in the church is vocal music. There is not a book, a chapter, a verse, nor a word to be found anywhere in the entire Bible that gives any authorization for the use of any kind of mechanical instrument in the worship the church is to give to God. However, some say, “It really doesn’t make any difference.” Again we ask, who said that it didn’t make any difference? To whom will we listen, to God or to man? If we truly want to examine ourselves, we will take the proper standard, which is the Word of God, and by it see if we are doing what God commands.
The problem with Nadab and Abihu was that they offered what they wanted, rather than what God commanded. Please accept a friendly challenge. If the church where you worship uses any kind of mechanical instrument such as the piano, guitar, trumpet, etc., then take it upon yourself to find where it has the biblical authority to do so. When you find it, please write to me and give me the biblical references which you truly believe gives the authority for such. Then allow me to engage in a written discussion with you on the subject. My email address is: [email protected].