In the days of old, Jewish worship consisted of high priests who had to make penance for his own and the people's sins every once a year. This was a serious affair that entailed that the priest to first be right with God lest he die. Leviticus 21:6, 8 describes the qualification of the priest, top of which was holiness.
The first priesthood came from the family of Aaron whose sons did not however honor such a selection and died in disgrace leaving the Levite priesthood to come in by God's grace. Hebrew 5:-6 talks of the selection of a high priest from among men who represented the people in matters related to God, offering sacrifices on their behalf and on his own. And just as no one takes this honor of priesthood upon himself unless he is called by God, then too Christ did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest; God appointed him. He is a priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Today, and as born again Christians, we are called to priesthood.1Peter 2:5 says, 'You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood , offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ'. We all qualify to be priests because Jesus took our shame and offered himself as a sacrifice once and for all. 1Peter 2:9 further qualifies us, 'But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God , that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into this wonderful world'.
The priests had to be CLEANSED as we must continuously be. 1John 1:9 gives us the reason for confessing our sins-that we may be purified from all unrighteousness, because we are all sinners. Each and every one of us has fallen short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect, not a single one.
The priests of old had to be CLOTHED in certain priestly garments, Exodus 29:5-9 gives the details of the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breast piece. The completion of God's specification on the garments gave way to a lasting ordinance. As priests, are we too clothed in holiness?
Thirdly, the priests had to be CONSECRATED or set apart for God's work. They even had marks on them to further isolate them from the rest. As born again Christians are we the light in dark places? Are we the salt that adds the right flavor to situations? Do we stand out as different in a sinful world?
The priests were CARED for. Just as the priests had to eat from the temple, we too are supplied for by the Lord. God ensured that even as the priests served Him, their welfare was taken care of and they ate from the house of the Lord. For as long as they remained obedient and stayed holy, God provided for their needs. We too are expected, as priests, to be conscious of the fact that God delights in holiness and will promptly answer our prayers when we stay holy and within His will for our lives. A lot is expected of us who have been privy to the knowledge and salvation of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul, in 4:9, says 'Whatever you have learned, or received or heard from me or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you'. Our eyes should remain steadfast on our Lord Jesus Christ because we profess to be his followers. Hebrews 3:1 sums it up, 'Therefore holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest who we confess'.
The priests were not INDISCIPLINED; they had specific instructions to obedience, and these they had to adhere to if they were to remain holy; charged with the responsibility of entering the holy of holies once a year meant that they had to be blameless because if they approached the mercy seat in ungodliness, they would surely die. We as Christians need to borrow from this and see how seriously God takes the issue of holiness.
The priests were not INDIFFERENT; they could not afford to be. We as Christians must also be on high alert, showing interest in what is happening around us, what we do and remembering our calling to be different. The book of 2Corinthians 6:14 tells us not to be yoked with none believers because righteousness and wickedness have nothing in common; there is surely no fellowship between light and darkness. Yet despite all these warnings, some of us go ahead and get into courtship with none believers! We are called to be wise and not disinterested for ignorance leads to sinning. We are called to be different and stand out, not indifferent and blending in. We should not be indifferent about who we date or who we fellowship with.
The priests were not INDEPENDENT to the extent of self governance or to the extent of not needing any other person; they could not do just what they wanted. They were guided by God. We as priests can also not live recklessly the way we want. The life we have is really not our own. It was purchased by the blood of the holy lamb-Jesus Christ. We, as believers, are the church of Christ and we cannot therefore act independently and think that this will not affect the rest of the brethren. How we behave will be a standard measure of how other Christians will be judged by the world. We all belong to the body of Christ; every member of this body works in co-dependence with the other member.
Many years since you received Jesus Christ, who do you see when you look at the mirror? Do you bear a face which is being transformed daily into sweet Christ-likeness or do you now look like the treacherous Judas? Has greed and conformity to the world transformed you into someone else other than the loving image of Christ? Have you managed to be the different person you were called and set apart to be-that image of Christ? It is said that that Da Vinci's model for Christ, in his portrait of the last supper, also modeled quite well for the part of Judas many years later? That sweet, youthful face had turned out to be something else years later! How sad this story made me feel when I heard of it! How I wondered about my own image!
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May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.