By John D. Mean
1 Peter 2:9 Ye are a royal priesthood.
Eli stayed too long in the priest’s office; waiting and hoping for his sons to don the robes as our Lord’s representatives. Time was ebbing away too quickly.
Eli was an old man, rather ineffective for the grave responsibility of his calling. (You see, after the age of fifty years the workload was transferred to another and they remained only as instructors and mentors of the younger). The lights went out in the temple, almost without his observing, as his physical sight was slowly ebbing away. His sons had great sway over the decision – making process of Eli’s mind. And although he never succumbed to their deviations, he did not reprove them for their direction in going the way of all flesh. These boys allowed the carnal to reign rather than a holy carefulness in walking in the steps of the great Designer – the One who separated them for this purpose.
There is more to the story of Hannah than that which meets the eye. Hannah went up to the yearly sacrifice of the Lord with her husband. Of course, plagued by Penniah, the woman she shared the household chores with, watching as she made sport with her children. Since the quest to produce children is deep within the heart of every married woman, the pain became more intense as the days edged by.
Obviously Hannah had other hurts and pains. She was not just an ordinary woman. She seemed to possess that special insight of discerning the times. Eli’s misjudgment of her travail shows that she was two steps ahead. She stayed alone while others were engaged in what was perhaps the legitimate, but Hannah wanted a son. What for? Did she want him to follow in the steps of the ordinary or even to retrogress in the path of the sons of Belial? Was she taking a chance in an unlit room (as Ruth with Boaz) with only the priest there? Desperate circumstances create a very particular defiance and challenge to the status quo. “Oh, Lord,” as her heart was bleeding and aching. “Give me a son, and I will give him to thee, as long as he lives. He will follow in the footprints of your priest, that he might know your voice “light the lights” walk in your ways. I will mother this boy – make sure he is clothed with the proper coat complimentary to the Priest. Please, Lord, give me a son. He will be mine and yours.”
It is sad when the spiritual voice of a nation is unable to discern between spiritual ministry and the sons of Belial. Thank God for Hannah. Holding baby Samuel in her arms, close to her heart. As his eyes closed for the night, she whispered, “You’re mine, darling. But you’re Gods, and whatever He wills we will do.”
Priests had a time to let go of office, and then become mentors of the younger priests. Eli didn’t have the physical strength to fulfill the role of his office while facing a grave crisis. His only answer was what happened next. Hannah came, who knew how to intercede with grace and burden.
It might be the time to throw away a lot of secular Time Management and Job Description manuals. And, like the example of our Lord Jesus, it might be time to just walk in the Spirit for a change. Jesus had no particular schedule for the day, but one: doing always those things that pleased the Father. It’s doubtful if He prayed at 6 a.m. every morning, yet did not feel He would hinder tomorrow’s schedule by spending the whole night in prayer alone in the mountain. To the disciples, following Jesus was never boring. There were always new surprises and new ways of doing His work. About the time the disciples had it all figured out, Jesus would change the method. “Boys, you’re with me most of the time, but it’s the alone times where and when I get my answers.” Woe be the day when the Prophets/Priests change their role as mere professionals rather than retain the intimacy of the Priesthood. Wouldn’t it be more Apostolic to hear more of what the Holy Ghost is saying, than what the Greek says, per se?
I speak as a fool since I’m a no number in the educational field, yet it must be said. “I count all of my man-given knowledge as dung that I might win Christ,” declared the great Apostle Paul. Yet one would be extremely naive in not thinking that his great learning at the feet of Gamaliel was definitely a plus in bringing him before Kings and Governors, conversing in different languages, using eloquent speech in his letters, etc. However, who would have known of Paul (except as a member of the Sanhedrin) had there not been a Damascus Road experience, or the rigor of the Arabian Desert. Yes, even the humility of returning to the Apostles at Jerusalem twice (who had forbade him to preach and sent him home) to share the powerful revelations he had received with them; as in his own words, “Lest by any means I should run or had run in vain” (Galations 2:2).
Oh, brother, both you and I need Mentors and Elders to fine tune any revelation that we receive. You see, God speaks to us in three ways.
1 Logos (Greek, ha!): God’s will in His written word. His thought – His concept.
2 Rhema: His directional Word. More or less, to give us direction in doing His will at any given time or moment. If you have lived for God, especially in the capacity of leadership for some time the “Rhema” will become a sacred experience. It is sort of like a confirmation that through the most difficult times God is there. A lot of these experiences are never told, for these times are too sacred. Like our beloved E.L. Jacques who had an angel appear to him with a word of direction from the Lord, it’s my understanding that he only told this experience twice, and that, to close bosom friends.
3 God speaks to us through the Body, His Church. This is the way God speaks the most of the time. Perhaps a prime example of this would be with Paul the Apostle in journey to Jerusalem to converse with the other Apostles that were before him, chiefly Peter, James and John, who, in his appraisal of their level of authority and responsibility, “They seemed to be pillars in the Church,” or, they were the structural stability (Galations 2:2,9).
Paul trusted their words since he knew the prophecy of the scripture is not of private interpretation (1 Peter 1:20), but holy men (plural) (v. 21) of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The sentence: “Why, Brother Paul! Our Lord Jesus gave you the same Gospel of the Kingdom as He expounded to us while we sat at His feet!” Clasping his hand in theirs, “We’re one with you, Paul. Go for it – yes, to the Gentiles – and tell them the wall of partition between us and them has been totally wrecked and swept away through the power of the Blood of Jesus. Yes, we are One Body, and we choose to remain that way. We shall be anxiously awaiting your next visit.”
Then we have the case of Paul’s relationship to Timothy, whom he refers to as being his son in the Gospel.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
I’m not a loner. The Bible was not written by a loner. Jesus our Lord was not a loner in bringing His message of the Gospel to the world. One of His first initiatives in beginning His earthly ministry was to gather a group of men around Him that He might teach them the principles of walking together and knowing His heartbeat.
Just a word of caution to those who feel the whole world is built around them and they have all the answers: Just suppose, in the pursuit of your dream, you happen to slip over a certain precipice and you’re holding onto a twig of a tree. It’s still farther down – way down. Do you suppose you might be exceedingly grateful if, from above, you heard a voice, “Take a firm hold of the rope we’re letting down to you, and we will lift you up. Yes, to solid ground”? It just might be you will want some direction in order to plod the rough terrain before you from the ones who have traveled the way before. If Paul could’ve cried one message above any other, as he left Jerusalem to return to the land of his calling with credentials in his hand, you could have heard his voice loud and clear, “Son, don’t be a loner.”
Yes, Timothy received the Word of God; through Paul, and in turn, the faithful, whom Timothy instructed, received the Word through Timothy.
In Timothy’s conversion, his mother, Eunice, had a part. Likewise his grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Timothy 1:5). He did not claim all his success from what the Greek (his father) expounded to him. However, those godly ladies were pillars of strength in his spiritual development.
Again, the Apostle said,
2 Timothy 1:6 Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
I Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
We owe so much to so many because of Him!
And don’t forget your elders, Timothy – never rebuke them, but in-treat them as fathers. You see, they have something to give you, too. When our Lord Jesus delegated the work of publishing the Gospel of the kingdom to His Church, He never transgressed the true ethics of delegation. To follow up and see to whom He delegated that certain work is actually being done. Oh, yes. The mandate was, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The one who delegated said, “And the Lord worked with them, confirming His word with signs following.” Again, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Yet again, “And to I am with you alway even to the end of the world.”
The sinister plot of the enemy endeavors to attack from both sides. Either we sit around wasting time and energy, waiting for some unique experience before we carry out our Lord’s mandate, or go rough-shod, ignoring the purpose of the whole Body in a craze for personal kingdom-building.
Since our Lord delegated this responsibility of reaching the lost, we have no record in Holy writ of where a soul was ever saved independently of His Church. Even as important as the Apostle Paul would be in reaching his world for our Lord Jesus, our Lord did not preach the Gospel to him. He sent him to Ananias.
Neither did the Angel, who was sent to Cornelius, preach the Good News to him, but rather the angel sent Cornelius to Peter who would tell him words whereby he and his house could be saved. Likewise the picture is the same as with Philip to the Ethiopian, and as Priscilla and Aquila to Apollos.
Back To The Priests
The priests ministered before the Lord. To please the Lord and do His bidding was their chief work. They then were to render service to the people. The priests were the set-apart ones.
1 They lived apart. They had their own cities amongst all the tribes.
2 They had that certain distance between them and the other tribes.
3 They had to marry among their own.
4 The clothing garments were worn differently from the others.
5 The period of their work-force was twenty years – they each worked from age 30 to 50. For the Levites, it was from age twenty-five to fifty, or twenty-five years’ of service. After retirement they were primarily instructors, mentors and examples for younger Priests to pattern their lives by.
Note: There were examples of men who broke out of this order with certain selfish ambitions and desires to take the whole arrangement of things into their own hands and contest the elders. This always ended (if not in judgment) in unfruitfulness or apostasy. For example, Korah, Lathan and Abiram, Nadab and Abihu, and Balaam.
All through the New Testament the same scenario appears. “They went out from us,” informed the Apostle John, “for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us.” On another occasion, John spoke of one who wanted to have the pre-eminence, throwing people out of the Church.
Paul the Apostle warned the Corinthian Church that Satan would come as an angel of light.
Again, the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders,
Acts 20:28-30 After my departing grievous wolves will enter in not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves will men arise not sparing the flock to draw away disciples after them.
Like a breakaway cancerous cell moves amongst the various cells and parts of the body to grow its own body. Oh, Jesus! Please, Jesus, give me unfeigned love for your Body, the Church-the most awesome force on earth today!
The serious note in all of this is that when times deteriorate, a priest is needed, but one more than a priest – a prophet – a fearless man of God. Although it was the King who erred, the Prophet reprimanded him for his restoration.
The Priests were different people. They shed the blood of innocent animals made guilty by the sins of the people. They lighted the lights, after replenishing them with oil. They burned sweet incense, offered sacrifices. They were also the Health Officers, rulers and judges.
Our Calling As Priest-Kings
Number one in priority: We need wisdom in dealing with the problems of our day, whether the answer needs to come from the Priest’s office or from His majesty upon the throne. If from the throne, extreme caution must be observed to know it is the will of the King of Kings, the One with Whom we reign. There never was any question with regards to the effects and promises of what the offerings would do, if carried out. There were so many different types of offerings. The Sin Offering (what Cain struggled with and failed to offer) for atonement. The Offering for the Cleansing of the Leper. There were Thank Offerings that pleased God.
The Priests were the negotiators and conciliators of God’s marvelous provisions. Since the New Testament proclamators of the Gospel have both offices hand-clasped together into one, there is no question of the ability of the negotiator or the conciliator to affect the change and unleash showers of blessing. We have the authority of our King.
A Word About Spiritual Warfare
Get this straight! You only have one battle. Did Jesus defeat the Prince at Calvary or didn’t he? If He didn’t, you might as well give up now. Let’s get our message clear in spiritual warfare.
Colossians 28-15 Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a spew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (His cross.)
You only have one battleground. “Faith.”
“Fight the good fight of faith” (I Timothy 6:12) of His name. As Priests, we can negotiate with or release the old life for the new. As Kings, we shall see it happen.
The Priests of the Old Testament never questioned the efficacy of the offerings they offered. Nor should we question the efficacy of proclaiming the Gospel’s message, for it indeed is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone who believes. I have never witnessed an Evangelistic (crusading in new territories for the Lord) effort that did not yield fruit. Go and preach the Gospel. Jesus offered one offering for sin once and for all. This is the power of God. You will need nothing more. The lost are waiting to hear someone who will show them the way home. Believe me, Jesus defeated Satan. Go and believe it.
Revelation 1:5b-6 Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hash made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.
Lay hold upon eternal life.
How many times have the scriptures attested to the fact that, “the Battle is not ours but the Lord’s”? Our only battle is to believe it. This is where Peter defaulted in his confused appraisal of what Jesus was about to suffer. “Yes, Jesus. I’ll use this sword and fight to the last drop of blood.”
“Put up your sword, Peter, for spiritual battles are not won by carnal means and efforts. Peter, I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.”
When the Apostle Paul came to the finish line and martyrdom was just around the corner, his last words resounded down through the corridors of time. “I’ve fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Yes, faith is our only battle. And when we go in the power of God, will not our testimony be the same?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, (1 Peter 2:9).
Although our Lord Jesus fulfilled the demands of the Aaronic Priestly order to the letter, He actually came after the order of Melchizedec, who was both Priest and King.
Hebrews 7:1 For this Melichizedec, King of Salem, Priest of the most High God.
v. 15 After the same similitude there ariseth another Priest.
Zechariah 6:12-13 Behold the man whose name is the Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
He was born Thomas’ Lord and God (John 20:28). He was also both David’s Lord and the Lord of David (Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:34; Psalm 1110:1). He was both God and mediator, the very God with us in flesh (Matthew 1:23; 1 Timothy 2:5).
As King/Priests of the New Covenant, we have both offices. We need to know the difference between mediatoral role of beseeching men to God’s favor and to stand with authority of a King with power over all the power of the enemy. The Apostle said we have received a ministry of reconciliation in Christ’s stead (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Then, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (I John. 4:4). A given example of this dual role can be seen in the ministry of Paul. As the Apostle was mediating reconciliation to the deputy in Paphos, a sorcerer interfered, trying to turn the deputy away from the faith (Acts 13:6-12). The greater one living within the Apostle rose up and cursed the sorcerer with blindness for three months. he then turned back to the deputy and won a convert. Oh, what power He has given to us to do His work! Go forth in Jesus’ Name and do it. For His priests we are.
Article “What Did The Priests Do?” written by John D. Mean is excerpted from A Sinister Plot Chapter 10.