"A holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5)
"Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord." (Isaiah 61:6).
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me." These are the words of Jesus in Isaiah, chapter sixty-one. As the fruit of His work, all redeemed ones are priests-fellow-partakers with Him of His anointing with the Spirit as High Priest. This anointing is "Like the precious ointment upon the beard of Aaron, that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Psalm 133:2). Like every son of Aaron, every member of Jesus' Body has a right to the priesthood. But not everyone exercises it.Many are still entirely ignorant of it. And yet it is the highest privilege of a child of God, the mark of greatest nearness and likeness to Him "Whoever liveth to pray." Do you doubt this? Think of what constitutes priesthood.
There is, first, the work of the priesthood. This has two sides: one Godward, the other manward. "Every priest is ordained for men in things pertaining to God" (Hebrews 5:1). Or, as it is said by Moses (Deuteronomy 10:8, 21:5, 33:10; Malachi 2:6): "The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to stand before the Lord to minister unto Him, and to bless His Name. " On the one hand, the priest had the power to draw nigh to God, to dwell with Him in His house, and to present Him with the blood of the sacrifice or the burning incense. This work he did not do, however, on his own behalf, but for the sake of the people whose representative he was. This is the other side of his work. He received people's sacrifices, presented them to God, and then came out to bless in His Name, giving the assurance of His favor and teaching them His law.
A priest is thus a man who does not live for himself. He lives with God and for God. His work as God's servant is to care for His house, His honor,and His worship, making known to men His love and His will. He lives with men and for men (Hebrews 5:2). His work is to find out their sins and needs, bring these before God, offer sacrifice and incense in their names, obtain forgiveness and blessing for them, and then to come out and bless them in His Name.
This is the high calling of every believer. They have been redeemed with the one purpose of being God's priests in the midst of the perishing millions around them. In conformity to Jesus, the Great High Priest, they are to be the ministers and stewards of the grace of God.
Secondly, there is the walk of the priesthood, harmony with its work. As God is holy, so the priest was to be especially holy. This means not only separated from everything unclean, but holy unto God-being set apart and given up to God for His use. Separation from the world and being given to God were indicated in many ways.
It was seen in the clothing. The holy garment made according to God's own orders, marked the priests as His (Exodus 28). It was seen in the command as to their special purity and freedom from contact with death and defilement. Much that was allowed to an ordinary Israelite was forbidden them. Priests could have no bodily defects or blemishes. Bodily perfection was to be the model wholeness and holiness in God's service. The priestly tribes were to have no inheritance with the other tribes. God was to be their inheritance. Their life was to be one of faith-set apart unto God; they were to live on Him as well as for Him. All this symbolic of what the character of the New Testament priest is to be. Our priestly power with God depends on our personal life and walk. Jesus must be able to say of our walk on earth, "They have not defiled their garments."
In our separation from the world, we must prove that our desire to be holy to the Lord is whole-hearted and entire. The bodily perfection of the priest must have its counterpart in our also being "without spot or blemish." We must be "the man of God, perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works," "perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (Leviticus 21:17-21; Ephesians 5:27; 2 Timothy 3:17; James 1:4). Above all, we must consent to give up all inheritance on earth. We must forsake everything and like Christ have need only of God and keep everything for Him alone. This marks the true priest, the man who only lives for God and his fellow-men.
Thirdly, there is the way to the priesthood. God had chosen all of Aaron's sons to be priests. Each of them was a priest by birth. Yet he could not begin his work without a special act of ordinance-his consecration. Every child of God is a priest by right of his birth-his blood relationship to the Great High Priest. But he can exercise his power only as he accepts and realizes his consecration.
With Aaron and his sons it took place thus (Exodus 29): After being washed and clothed, they were anointed with the holy oil. Sacrifices were then offered, and the right ear, the right hand, and the right foot were touched with the blood. They and their garments were then sprinkled with the blood and the oil together. In the same way, as the blood and the Spirit work more fully in the child of God, the power of the Holy Priesthood will also work in him. The blood will take away all sense of unworthiness; the Spirit will take away all sense of unfitness.
Notice what was new in the application of the blood to the priest. If he had ever as a penitent sought forgiveness by bringing a sacrifice for his sin, the blood was sprinkled on the altar, but not on his person. But now, for priestly consecration, there was to be closer contact with the blood. The ear, hand and foot were by a special act brought under its power, and the whole being sanctified for God. When the believer is led to seek full priestly access God, he feels the need of a fuller and more enduring experience of the power of the blood. Where he had previously been content to have the blood sprinkled only on the mercy seat as what he needed for pardon, he now needs a more personal sprinkling a cleansing of his heart from an evil conscience. Through this, he has "no more conscience of sin" (Hebrews 10:2); he is cleansed from all sin. As he gets to enjoy this, his consciousness is awakened to his wonderful right of intimate access to God, and the full assurance that his intercessions are acceptable.
As the blood gives the right, the Spirit gives the power for believing intercession. He breathes into the priestly spirit a burning love for God's honor and the saving of souls. He makes us one with Jesus to the extent that prayer in His Name is reality. The more the Christian is truly filled with the Spirit of Christ, the more spontaneous will be his giving himself up to the life of priestly intercession.
Beloved fellow-Christians! God needs priests who can draw close to Him, live in His presence, and by their intercession draw down the blessings of His grace on others. And the world needs priests who will bear the burden of the perishing ones and intercede on their behalf.
Are you willing to offer yourself for this holy work? You know the surrender it demands-nothing less than the Christ-like giving up of everything, so that the salvation of God's love may be accomplished among men. Don't be one of those who are content with being saved, just doing enough work to keep themselves warm and lively! Let nothing keep you back from giving yourselves to be wholly and only priests of the Most High God!
The thought of unworthiness or of unfitness need not keep you back. In the blood, the objective power of the perfect redemption works in you. In the Spirit, the full, subjective, personal experience of a Divine life is secured. The blood provides an infinite worthiness to make your prayers acceptable. The Spirit provides a Divine fitness, teaching you to pray exactly according to the will of God.
Every priest knew that when he presented a sacrifice according to the law of the sanctuary, it was accepted. Under the covering of the blood and the Spirit, you have the assurance that all the wonderful promises of prayer in the Name of Jesus will be fulfilled in you. Abiding in union with the Great High Priest, "You shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." You will have power to pray the effective prayer of the righteous man that accomplishes a great deal. You will not only join in the general prayer of the Church for the world, but be able in your own sphere to take up your own special work in prayer. As priests, you will work on a personal basis with God to receive and know the answer, and so to bless in His Name.
Come, brother, come! Be a priest, only a priest, and all priest! Walk before the Lord in the full consciousness that you have been set apart for the holy ministry of intercession. This is the true blessedness of conformity to the image of God's Son.
Lord, teach us to pray.
O my blessed High Priest! Accept the consecration in which my soul responds to Your message! I believe in the holy priesthood of Your saints I believe that I am a priest, having the power to appear before the Father in prayer that will bring down many blessings on the perishing souls around me.
I believe in the power of Your precious blood to cleanse me from all sin. It gives me perfect confidence in God and brings me near to Him in the full assurance of faith that my intercession will be heard.
I believe in the anointing of the Spirit. It comes down to me daily from You, my Great High Priest, to sanctify me. It fills me with the consciousness my priestly calling and with the love of souls. It also teaches me what is according to God's will and how to pray the prayer of faith.
I believe that, just as You are in all things in life, You are in my prayer life, drawing me up in it the fellowship of Your wondrous work of intercession.
In this faith, I yield myself today to my God as one of His anointed priests. I stand before Him to intercede on behalf of sinners, and then return to bless them in His Name.
Holy Lord Jesus! Accept and seal my consecration. Lay Your hands on me and consecrate me Yourself to this holy work. Let me walk among men with the consciousness and the character of a priest or the Most High God.
And to Him Who loved us-Who washed us from our sins in His own blood, and Who made us kings and priests before God, His Father-to Him be glory and power forever! Amen.
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