Most of us have seen some strange things in this world. Things happen and people do things that we just cannot understand the reasoning behind it. In the realm of serving God, or at least in attempting to serve God, man has often done some strange things.
There a number of “strange things” mentioned in the Bible, most of which are condemned. In this brief article, we wish to notice some of the “strange things” mentioned in the word of God and notice that many of these same “strange things” are used today in an attempt to serve God.
Let us start with a case of strange worship. The first verse of the tenth chapter of the book of Leviticus says, “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” (Lev. 10:1).
Though they were the sons of Aaron, and therefore priest, they attempted to worship God in a way not authorized by God for that time. The fire they used was not the fire that God had commanded. In this Christian age, one must find the authority for Christian worship in the New Covenant, not the old under which Nadab and Abihu lived. There is no doubt whatsoever that multitudes attempt to worship God each week, in the name of Christianity, in ways and using innovations of man rather than that which is authorized in the New Testament.
Many have changed the form of music authorized in the New Testament, which is singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) to that which is pleasing to them instead. Not only is mechanical instruments used, in modern times many have turned to some so-called Christina rock and roll as a form of worship to God. In essence, a vast majority of what is called worship to God today, is nothing more than entertainment of those who are in attendance. Drama, skits and musical groups all point to entertainment, not worship. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Therefore, not only must our worship come from the heart, it must be in accordance with the truth of the word of God. Many think it a small thing, a minor adjustment for the age, to change the worship of God to a way more pleasing to the worshipper, but the question is: How does God view such strange worship? The answer is seen in God’s reaction to the worship offered by Nadab and Abihu. The scripture says, “And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:2). It is really strange that anyone would even consider offering strange worship to God.
A second case involves worshipping strange gods. When Jacob was sent by God to go dwell in Bethel, the text says that Jacob told those with him to “Put away the strange gods that are among you…” (Gen. 35:2). There are literally numerous cases in both the old and new testaments of those who were worshipping gods, rather than the one true God. The ten commandments began with, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exo. 20:3), but many violated that command. In this Christian age, those espousing to be Christians seldom fall to the worshipping of various idols and such as did those of by-gone years.
However, there is a real sense in which many today are guilty of worshipping strange gods. How so, you might ask. Whatever one puts before God has in effect become a god that that person is serving instead of the one true God. An example of this is seen in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He writes, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Paul stated that covetousness is a form of idolatry, or worship of idols. With this concept in mind, it is easy to see how many have some strange gods they are worshipping.
Riches are a god many worship. We live in a land of plenty, but when the drive to get more money exceeds the drive to serve God, one has made money their god. Money itself, is not evil. It is something to be used as a means of providing for ourselves. However, Paul points out that “the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10).
Understanding the proper place for money in our lives will lead us to understand that one does not have to be rich in order to have made money their god. Other strange gods that many have bowed to today are such things as recreation, fleshly pleasure and yes, even family. Anything and all things that one places ahead of faithfully serving God are strange gods.
Consider some of the other strange things found in the Bible: strange languages (Ezekiel 3:5; Nehemiah 13:23-24), strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9: I Tim. 1:3) and strange apparel (Zephaniah 1:8). All can be found to have a modern day counterpart. However, as already noted, it really is a strange thing for people today, who have God’s word easily available to them in written form, and who claim to abide by that word, to attempt to serve the living God of heaven in strange ways and means. If it is not found in the pages of the New Testament, it is not a part of true Christianity!
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]