One of the first things people ask about the Church is why we do not use musical instruments; the second question is, “why does it matter if the New Testament does not explicitly say not to use musical instruments in worship?” The same logic is then applied to other facets of worship like communion; if the Bible does not explicitly speak against drinking orange juice instead of the fruit of the vine, God must be fine with us using orange juice and Oreos for communion just like He is accepting of worshipping Him with a piano, right?
Allow me to introduce you to two people who might disagree, two people who learned the hard way that silence is not permission, Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. The story of how they learned this lesson the hard way is found in Leviticus 10:1-3.
“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. 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 spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”-Leviticus 10:1-3
The strange fire was not authorized by the Lord, and thus, not accepted. Not only was it rejected by God, but Nadab and Abihu paid a high price for not obeying the pattern God had given them. God wants what He asks for. The whole book of Leviticus is a template for the people on how to approach God in worship; in God being clear on what He wanted; the people knew what He did not want. When God instructed Noah to build an ark out of gopher wood, He did not have to specify not to use oak to build the ark. Noah already knew what he had been told to do. When you go to a restaurant and order a salad, and the waiter brings your food plus a steak and fries, you will be confused because they did not bring you what you asked. Nadab and Abihu knew God’s order for offerings, yet they chose not to follow it.
Nadab and Abihu did not bring God what He asked for, and it cost them their lives. Why do we think we can do the same in our worship to the Lord today when our God is the same God who burned these two men for unauthorized fire? Ephesians 5:19 does not have to read, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord but not with musical instruments.” For us to be capable of inferring what God wants and what He has not authorized, let us learn from the mistake of Nadab and Abihu.