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The Priesthood is a door opening to a deeper, richer relationship with Christ.
Pastor Douglas Shearer
In any kind of church, you’re bound to find several kinds of persons: (1) those who don’t know how to get into the presence of God or, perhaps, aren't even saved - I’ll call them “REDS;” (2) those who know how, but are either too discouraged or too distracted to do so - I’ll call them “BLUES;” and (3) those who both know how and do so consistently - I’ll call them “GREENS.”
Many of the greens - because they’re more mature and are quite serious about spiritual matters - are actively seeking a deeper walk with the Lord. In short, they’re spiritually hungry - and it’s a hunger they want desperately to assuage. They often think the best way of going about that is to congregate with other greens.
They attend Bible studies composed almost exclusively of greens; prayer groups composed almost exclusively of greens, and serve on various church committees - again, composed almost exclusively of greens. They even attend conferences and seminars put on by greens for greens - sometimes quite expensive conferences and seminars. Usually, however, none of that works. Often it generates quite the opposite effect: it only intensifies their spiritual hunger.
What nobody has ever taught them is that green on green isn’t the answer!
The Old Testament tells us that in worship there are always three participants: (1) God, who is the object of worship; (2) the supplicant, who is seeking God’s presence; and (3) the priest, who oversees the sacrifice allowing the supplicant to stand before God.
The Book of Leviticus describes five basic sacrifices that atoned for sin: (1) the Whole Burnt Offering; (2) the Grain Offering; (3) the Peace Offering; (4) the Sin or Purification Offering; and, finally, (5) the Trespass or Reparation Offering. Each sacrifice was meant to heal a specific wound that sin inflicted.
The Whole Burnt Offering dealt with guilt and the fear of impending judgment; the Grain Offering dealt with the fear of abandonment - the fear of being vulnerable and unprotected; the Peace Offering dealt with the fear of estrangement and alienation - the fear of being unwanted and uninvited; the Sin Offering dealt with the fear of being stained and unclean - of being defiled and useless; and, finally, the Trespass Offering dealt with the fear of injustice - the fear that the wickedness perpetrated by evil-doers is going unnoticed, unchecked, and unpunished. (I have compiled a study on the Book of Leviticus that clarifies the meaning of each of the sacrifices. Some of its conclusions are spelled out in a book I recently published, Calvin on the Ropes. You can purchase it on Amazon.)
Not only did each sacrifice highlight a specific kind of sin and heal the damage it inflicted, each one was disposed of differently. And herein lies the key to cultivating a deeper relationship with God; herein lies the key to a more enduring, more sustaining, more intimate walk with God - a walk that will assuage the spiritual hunger plaguing so many greens.
In the case of the Whole Burnt Offering, the entire sacrifice was consumed on the Altar - meaning it was wholly given over to God - except for the hide, which was given to the priest. The supplicant got nothing - except, of course, the forgiveness of his sins. What specifically he didn’t get was nourishment.
In the case of the Grain Offering, only a small portion was burned on the altar; the priest got all the rest and used it to nourish himself; the supplicant got nothing - except, of course, once more, the forgiveness of his sins. Once again, what specifically he didn’t get was nourishment.
In the case of the Peace Offering, once more only a small portion was burned on the altar for God; the priest was given the best parts of the sacrifice, the breast and the right shoulder; and what little was left over was given to the supplicant.
In the case of the Sin Offering, a small portion was burned on the altar for God; the rest was given to the priest for nourishment; the supplicant got nothing.
In the case of the Trespass Offering, again a small portion was burned on the altar for God; the priest got the rest for nourishment; the supplicant got nothing.
The New Testament - especially the Book of Hebrews - makes it clear that Christ is the real sacrifice the Old Testament sacrifices merely typified or symbolized - meaning Christ’s one sacrifice on the Cross consummates the five sacrifices described in the Old Testament. And just as God nourished the priests in the Old Testament with the best of the sacrifices, so too in the New Testament, the priests - meaning anyone helping others into the presence of God, which is what a priest does - are nourished with the best of Christ's riches.
The lesson is obvious: anyone wanting a deeper walk with God - anyone wanting to nourish his hungry soul - must step up to the priesthood. Only the priests are permitted to taste the fulness of Christ. It’ a simple truth, but one that most Christians overlook: God reserves the riches of Christ for the priests.
Friendships are important - vitally important. We all need to cultivate them. And, in that sense, GREEN on GREEN is important. But its importance in developing a deeply satisfying spiritual life can be over stressed. It's a mistake I've been guilty of myself. The real answer is found not in GREENS hanging out with other GREENS, but (1) in reaching out to the REDS, the unsaved and younger Christians, bringing them into God’s presence and (2) helping discouraged and distracted believers, the BLUES, get back to God. It’s difficult and often heart-breaking work; but it’s what a priest does. And it’s that kind of service that God rewards with the best of Christ. Are you a GREEN yearning to be fed with the riches of Christ? Longing too draw closer to Him? Do the work of a priest! Disciple others! Search out the BLUES and the REDS within your congregation - and draw them into the presence of God.