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God is Particular - Part 2

Today we continue to study into that interesting question, "Is God Particular?" Yesterday we reviewed some very fascinating stories from the Bible which indicate that God means exactly what He says, and that we cannot accommodate His


to meet our convenience. Some people think that sincerity is quite enough, that if we really are earnest and zealous in what we do, God will accept it regardless of anything else. But the stories of the Bible indicate just the opposite. We learned from the story of Cain and Abel, and the story of Adam and Eve before them, that the results of disobedience in the smallest detail can be more than tragic. When they refused to do things exactly as God commanded some terrible results came on this world.

Now we move on to another story in Leviticus 10. It's a story of two preacher's boys whom God killed. Ah, this comes pretty close to home friends, because I'm a preacher, and I have two boys too. I've read this story many times. The preacher was Aaron, of course, and his sons were


and Abihu. What happened to those boys anyway? Those youngsters stayed around the temple of God a great deal. They were brought up in evangelistic meetings in the church, and around


things, with the Bible and prayer in their ears all the time. They were associated with the


things of God so much that they became common in their sight. It was when these things began to be taken for granted as common things that the fatal mistake was made.

Every time we open the Bible, friends, we should pray, "Let this Book always be holy to me. Help me to revere it and hold it in very solemn awe." But those boys forgot that. Being reared around the church and having become ministers themselves like their father, they had grown accustomed to these things and no longer looked upon them as being holy. They did not have that solemn sense of reverence as God had demanded.

The Lord had given certain commandments about the


in the temple services. He said, "Use

holy fire

on the altar. Always use that which was started by God Himself. Never bring any common fire into that place." You see friends, God had lighted that fire, and this was the only acceptable way for them to worship. It was the only way for them to worship. It was the only way for them to offer sacrifices. Aaron had told the boys about this commandment of God. They were without excuse. They understood it perfectly well. There was no reason for them to ever transgress that commandment. But one day, when Aaron was not around, the boys needed a fire for their sacrifice. One of them said, "Well, I don't think it makes any difference really, how could it make any difference? Fire is fire, and one kind burns just as well as the other kind." And so those boys took "strange" fire and entered into the holy place of the temple with it. When they walked in before God they were smitten and died on the spot.

Aaron must have heard something unusual taking place in there, maybe he heard the sound of their bodies falling, and he came racing into the temple shouting for his sons. When he saw what had happened to them, he began to weep over the death of his sons. But God said to him, "Aaron, stop that! Don't shed one tear. They have profaned holy things. You must not weep for them at all. It will set a wrong example for the people." You read the story for yourself there in Leviticus 10. It's a tragic thing friends, a terrible circumstance, but it certainly teaches us something. It teaches us that God means exactly what He says. We can learn a great deal from this story. It was written for our admonition.

I've heard people say, "Well, what difference does it make about baptism? Water is water. Whether it is sprinkled on the head or whether we're immersed in it altogether, if we're sincere God will accept us with just any kind of baptism." Oh, listen friends, it does make all the difference in the world, because it is the difference between obedience and disobedience. It may look small to us, but God doesn't measure sin by the amount of it or by the proportion of it. It's a matter of basic loyalty and love. That's what's involved in obeying God or not. One


only is the true baptism if you read the Bible. All the others really are like offering strange fire to God. One is sacred, and the others are common. One is from God; the others are from man. The Lord has made this thing clear so that we need have no question at all in our minds about it.

But then people say also, "A day is a day. Any day is holy if we're sincere in our worship." But friends, is it really? When God made the


He chose the seventh day, blessed it, made it sacred, hallowed it and then commanded man to observe it. He set it apart and


it for a holy use. It was to be used for worship. If I change that or choose some other day, I'm offering a man-made fire to God, because I'm not carrying out His commandment as He gave it to me.

I say that God had a reason for choosing the seventh day, for putting His blessing on it, and writing the commandment right in the heart of the Ten Commandment law, When He wrote it with His own finger on those imperishable tables of stone, God knew what He was doing, and He meant every word that He wrote. God cannot change, not in the least. Mark this well friends, my worship is dangerous unless I do it as God says. Those boys' experience proved it back there. You pray over this story and read it again for yourself and you'll get the plain truth of it as you study it in more detail.

Now we go further, to the story of Saul. He was a brilliant leader of Israel, a great genius, in fact, according to the Bible records. The Lord had chosen him to be king over Israel. But later he said to himself, "I can do this thing alone." One day the prophet said, "The Lord wants you to go and destroy the Amalekites. You must not bring a thing back, everything must be completely destroyed. Do you understand?" Yes,


understood alright. Those people had committed the unpardonable sin, and they were to be destroyed from the earth. Well, Saul received the commandment and went forth into battle. After winning a tremendous victory under the blessing of God, Saul saw a beautiful flock of sheep and some cattle up on the hillside. They were so much fatter and nicer than any which he had seen in Israel that he began to toy with the idea of sparing them for sacrifices in the Sanctuary. Finally he yielded to the idea, and brought them back on his return from battle.

Samuel, in the meantime, had been suffering a great deal over this disobedient act of Saul. God had revealed it to him in a vision. In 1 Samuel 15:11 we read that Samuel cried to the Lord all night long over that thing. What a man of God he must have been! He understood the


of this leader of Israel, and he wept about it all night long, as he waited for him to come back from the battle. Early in the morning Samuel went out to meet Saul and immediately he heard the sound of bleating sheep and lambs. He said, "What meaneth this bleating of sheep? Didn't you understand what God said, that you were to bring nothing back?" Saul began to rationalize. He said, "Yes, but we've just saved this for God, and not for ourselves. We're going to offer these as sacrifices on the altar. We saw that these sheep were so much nicer than we had and we wanted to give the very best to God, so we brought this little flock of sheep to offer them as a sacrifice to God for the great victory He gave us."

What did Samuel say, friends? Did he say, "This is good. I hadn't thought about that, Saul. Since you brought it for a sacred use, God will surely accept it." Is that what Samuel said? Absolutely not! This is what he said: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. Saul the most important thing in this world is to do just what God tells you to do, nothing more, nothing less. Your kingdom is taken from you, you're a lost man." That is what Samuel said to Saul, and right then and there the Holy Spirit walked away from that man, and he was a lost soul. Soon after that, in fact, he committed suicide out on the battlefield of Gilboa. His sanctimonious language did not save him from awful results of transgression. Notice, when Samuel met him, the first words of Saul to him were these, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." You see what heavenly language that sounded like. One could be led to think that Saul was a good man. But he was trying to cover up a disobedient act by all of this high sounding talk and praise and pious language, as though he loved God very much.

Listen, the Bible says that if we do not obey Him, we are actually lying. "He that sayeth I know Him and keepeth not His commandment is a liar and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:4. So this man Saul really didn't love the Lord as he should or he would not have committed this act of disobedience. It didn't seem to be very terrible, and to Saul it was a small matter. But friends, disobedience is disobedience. Sin is sin. There are no degrees. God doesn't measure sin by the amount.

The lesson here is so clear for us. Conscience is not a safe guide, not even for a man who has been chosen by God. A person may have an evil conscience, a defiled conscience, or a darkened conscience, all of these are Bible expressions. Our only safety must be in the Word of God. We cannot accept any other guiding influence in making decisions. There is no excuse good enough for disobeying God. If there had been any excuse at all, Saul certainly would have had it, wouldn't he? Don't you think so? He was bringing those things back to offer to God as sacrifice. But God said, No, I don't want them, even for that. I want obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice, it's the biggest and best offering you can ever give to me." After all, friends, the Bible says, "To whomsoever ye yield yourself servants to obey, his servants ye are to whomsoever ye obey." Romans 6:16. Saul had given his worship actually to someone else because he gave his obedience to someone other than God. He had made a god out of self.

Well, another important thing that this brings to mind is John 13. Jesus commands us to wash one another's feet. I wonder if you've ever read that chapter, friends? It's the last scene in the upper room before Jesus was crucified. There Christ got down and began to wash His disciples feet, and then He told them that He was setting an example for them and that they should do the same to one another. I've heard people say, "Well, I can't see that this is necessary today." Friends, it doesn't matter what we see, or what seems to be right or wrong. It's what the Bible says that makes something right or wrong.

By the way, you'll find just as strong and plain commands about the washing of feet as you will about the breaking of bread. Yet the churches have gotten away from it. Christians have gotten away from it, even though it is right there in plain language. Take the time to read it specifically in John 13. You'll see that there's no way to get around it. Friends, if we love Him there'll be no questioning. There'll be no quibbling. You will say, "Alright, I'll obey. I'll do what He wants me to do." This is the lesson to be learned from these stories we've considered today. May God bless you as you look into these things with much earnest prayer.

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