Weekly Devotional 8-20-18 Two Peoples called as Priest; Part 4
In the last 3 issues of our weekly devotionals we considered that Israel had been called as God’s priests to the rest of humanity and that because of a lack of true devotion they were set aside for a time. Further, we considered that the church now wears that mantle. The church is now God’s priest to the world. As demonstrated by God setting aside Israel for a period being a priest is not a light calling, it comes with great demand. Israel was to be separate from the world and the church is to be separate. Israel was to be a holy people and the church is to be holy.
As we read the record of Israel, they failed because they did not esteem God for who He is. We should take notice that God has not changed. What He demanded of Israel, He demands of the church. Israel lived by having one foot in the kingdom of God, heaven so to speak, and one foot in the world. They wanted what God could give them, but they also wanted what the fallen world would afford them. However, God would not have that. In calling Israel as His priest, He said, “5Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6a). His calling of them was conditional.
The church’s calling is no less dramatic. No, the church is not under that same covenant, but none the less as far as priesthood, the principles of that covenant are applicable. The church is to obey the directives of her Lord. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul instructed the Corinthian church and indirectly us, “14Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’ 17Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord’” (2nd Corinthians 6:14-17a). So yes, like Israel, the church is to be separate from the world. As far as practice, this is our beginning of being a royal priesthood.
In consideration of what was accomplished by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Peter instructed the dispersed of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia which were the scattered churches of his day thusly; “13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1st Peter 1;13-16).
From Peter’s instruction we learn of another step of being God’s priest. We are to bind up our minds with the understanding of the grace of God. This binding is to move us forward to being obedient children of God toward spiritual maturity and rejecting our former way of life. We are to be holy as He (God is holy) in all of our conduct. This is not a simple task. It takes effort.
If we would be worthy priests we must renounce the sin that so easily seeks to interfere with our fellowship and we must put on the whole armor of God. Concerning this, Paul wrote; “11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:11-18).
It is interesting that Paul included prayer and supplication for all the saints as being part of the armor of God (vs. 18). Does he not have in mind that the warrior is to take his mind off self? Is this not a sure sign of maturity? If you and I want to be seen by God as being faithful in our call to priesthood, we must allow ourselves to be led by His Spirit. We must hedge ourselves about with His armor and certainly we must act as priest, God’s representative to people and representative of them to God. This starts in the house of God. We are called to be watchful over them in prayers and supplication. By putting on the armor of God we are protected against the attacks of the powers of darkness. Being in an attitude of prayer for our fellows we demonstrate love for them, an absolute necessity of being a faithful priest. Israel lacked this love and failed. The love considered is not some shallow feeling, but is a deeply rooted concern for others, the objects of our love. Paul addressed this in his first letter to the Corinthians, consider; “1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never fails” (1st Corinthians 13:1-8a).
If we are then to be faithful priests, let us renounce the sin in our lives (1st John 1:5-10), abide in Christ (John 15:1-10), put on the armor provided by Him (Ephesians 6:11-18), and let us love with the Love of God” (1st Corinthians 13:1-8a).
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
All Scripture referenced is from the NKJB