September 2, 2016

Identity as a priest in God's Kingdom. A Bible study thingy. :)

I am not me. Me has died completely while I live on. But I am not some reincarnation of me either. I have a different identity. My old identity is dead because it died with Jesus, but what is my new identity? Well, of course it is in Christ because, in God’s eyes, I have the same purity and holiness that Christ has. But what do I do, now that I have been saved? There are many roles explained in the Bible that I can strive to be, such as a soldier, and a farmer, and an athlete, which each have a new perspective of the work God has laid out for us. Throughout my life, I will strive to learn and grow and become all of them, if I’m given enough time.

One thing that has struck me somewhat recently is that God also calls us to be priests. A kingdom of priests to be exact. Exodus 19 shows what it takes to be holy and pure and dedicated to the work of the Lord. Exodus 19:4-6a says, ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ The people tell Moses that they will do whatever the Lord desires them to do.



Then God tells the people, through Moses, to consecrate themselves, which is to purify themselves and prepare for the Lord to speak to them. Today, if we want to be a priest, we should also purify our hearts on a regular basis. We should stop old habits, fill our minds and our lives with good things and not worldly things, like we see on tv, or youtube, or with bad friends sometimes. Ray Vanderlaan says that if you want to build a temple for the Lord you should make space for Him in your heart. That means clearing out all the other stuff. God wants every bit of room in your soul. God hates the same problem the genie does, if you’ll pardon the comparison:
Phenomenal cosmic powers!!! Itty bitty living space.
God doesn’t want a little space, He wants all of it.

The rest of Exodus 19 is pretty scary. The Lord has them consecrated, but neither the people nor the priests can go up to the Lord except for Moses and Aaron. This is before Christ fulfilled the scriptures and died for our sins for good. Here, since even the priests have sinned, they cannot go up to the Lord without perishing. God warns and repeats His warnings to Moses to make sure no one comes up to Him, because they will certainly die. As the Lord comes down, there is thunder, lightning, dense clouds and smoke over the mountain. The entire mountain trembles violently as the earsplitting noise of the trumpet blast grows louder and louder.

What does it take to be a priest today? I think we should ask for His Holy Spirit over and over again, for whenever we are tempted or discouraged. But WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY DOING?!?!?! If this is what the Lord is like, I can’t have him inside of me. I’ll explode or something. Exodus 20:19, “The people said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’” I thank the Lord, and remember that Christ came down from God to die for our sins, as I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me. Still, we are sinful and we must fear the Lord because if His grace didn’t work, or if He chose to withhold it in some way, we’d be toast. He can’t live with sin. Though His mercy is eternal, we would certainly deserve whatever punishment He should choose to give, if Jesus hadn’t died for sinners.

Anyway, so far what I’ve tried to say is that if we are to become priests of the Lord in this modern world, we should consecrate ourselves or make space for Him, and fear the Lord. Once I thought that to fear Him just meant to respect Him, but no, it actually means to be afraid of Him, because He is Holy. Exodus 20:20 says, “‘God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’”

A good illustration of these things is that we are all bottles of Dr. Pepper (trademark, by the way.) We are striving to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, the pack of Mentos, but that doesn’t work. If you drop a Mentos into Dr. Pepper, the soda rockets out of the bottle, just like the Holy Spirit cannot live where there is sin. But Christ came and took the punishment of our sin on Himself, and now we may believe in Him, and empty ourselves of all the soda. Now, with Christ’s holiness, God can put however many Mentos He wants inside of us. We must strive to stay away from everything the Spirit cannot live with and live a healthy, holy diet that honors the Lord and makes us strong.

Finally, we are to obey Him. Exodus 20, as you know already, has the ten commandments. They emphasize serving the One Lord, honoring His name, resting on the Sabbath, honoring one’s parents, and being holy. These commandments show who God is, what He is like, and what is holy to Him. Therefore, to be a priest today, we have to obey Him because our goal is to tell the world who our God is, what He is like, and what is Holy to Him! That’s what a priest does! A priest represents who God is to people who don’t know how to find Him yet, or to those who have the wrong idea of Him. Imagine a pastor using the Lord’s name in vain, or living in a way that was contrary to Jesus’ teachings. Anyone who heard him would think that God’s name had no power or that His teachings were irrelevant. Obeying God’s commandments and living like Jesus did shows who God really is.

Another thing I think is really cool for us A.D. people, is that we know what Jesus did for us, and what the rest of the story will look like. Why will Heaven be so awesome? We get to be there with God. Well, isn’t God already in our hearts? Aren’t we already a part of the body of Christ, with Christ as the head? The Kingdom of Heaven is very near already, then, with God as the King. It will be even better in Heaven, but since we are experiencing the Kingdom now, we should join up with our brothers and sisters, and live in a KINGDOM of priests. We should live like Heaven was here. It was what all the excitement was about when you got baptised. You get the Holy Spirit, and God’s strength, joy, love, and peace. A priest doesn’t do his work from home on the couch in his jammies, either, but he shares his celebrations with the people. So should we, as a Kingdom of priests, go out and share our overflowing joy, love, and peace to those who desperately need it. It is the best way to spread the Gospel and bring light to the world. Matthew 10:6-8, says, “‘Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.’” He was sending out the twelve into the world when he said that, but it is the same message for us to proclaim.

Anyway, that’s what a modern priest does. What is my identity as a priest? I fear the God of lightning and trembling, smoky mountains; I make room for Him in my heart and in everything else; I endeavor, by the strength of His Holy Spirit, to obey God, to show the world who He is; and I live like the Kingdom of Heaven is here. The center of the work of a priest, though, is sacrifice to honor God and ask for His forgiveness of sins.
It’s cool to see in the Bible, the swing of the fulfilment of promises through time:
  • Priests of the Old Testament sacrificed for every sin at every holiday, as God ordered.
  • Christ died as the Lamb of God, slaughtered as the final sacrifice for sins, a sacrifice done by God himself.
  • The priests of today no longer sacrifice animals for sin, but sacrifice their time, their work, their interaction with others, and more to Jesus, just to be with Him because He is our only hope of Salvation.

Being a priest is a big deal. It is all this, plus acknowledging and taking a part in the fulfilment of God’s plan in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To say it differently, a modern priest fears God, consecrates himself, follows Jesus Christ, and puts his hope in Him, because He was the last sacrifice for our sins. He gave us every part of His life and conquered death FOR US. Shouldn’t we give Him back every part of our lives? He is our KING, we are His Kingdom, spreading light in the world.

And now we acknowledge what Jesus did for us. We accept His death and the death of our old selves, because if it hadn’t happened, we would have no joy, no work to do for Him, and no Kingdom. Jesus came to earth, was born to live a full life. He understood our pain and the burden of our guilt and shame. He knew the whole time that he was going to die, but He was looking at the joy of being with us in the Kingdom instead.

5 comments:

  1. Silas,
    I am so grateful to have been able to read this writing from you. It's obvious to me that you have Godly wisdom way beyond most young men your age. You have that wisdom because you ask for it! You also have amazing knowledge and understanding of scripture. That too is because you take the time to know our Heavenly Father. There are biblical examples about a small number of young men with Godly hearts and desires, who were used by God in various ways to speak to His people. One of the best examples we know is of Jesus himself. Jesus was constantly seeking his Father through prayer. "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Jesus was God's plan of salvation for mankind from the very beginning but he was tempted in all things just as we are and had the choice to sin just as we do. His victory is over sin and over death just as you mentioned. I say that to acknowledge that I know as you continue to grow and mature in your walk with God that He will use you in amazing ways!! I'm so filled with joy to see what an amazing young man you are and I have hope for future glory to God through you! Bless you Silas!

    Teresa Dodd

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  2. Silas, here are some thoughts from Mrs. Ward :)
    * Great thoughts and great writing!
    * Well organized. His sense of humor had me giggling, but there was no lack in depth. Silas himself is in his writing. I felt like I got to know him while reading.
    * So, something he wrote got me thinking: Is it that God can't be where evil is, or that we sinful people can't survive in the presence of His holiness without being cleansed? I've heard that statement before and have probably said it myself, but now it occurs to me that God was in the presence of Satan in Job. Anyway, the fact that I'm still thinking about what he wrote an hour later is a compliment to Silas. And his teacher.

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  3. Thank you, Silas. The scripture I remember when I think of being a priest is Romans 12:1. We offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God—and that's something no one else can do for me. I must be a priest and offer my sacrifice.

    Love, Grandma

    Anonymous said...

    Silas,

    We agree with Teresa: you have been given a wisdom beyond your years. (But don't let that go your wise young head.) You understand — and can explain — concepts that most Christians don't grasp until much further down the road. We especially admire your grasp of holiness. What you say reminds us of Romans 12.1-2 and Hebrews 13.15-16, which you essentially paraphrased, and which speak of the sacrifices that God expects of Christians. You might consider the passage in Hebrews 12 that explains that the mountain that we have approached, Mount Zion, is even more to be feared and revered than Sinai, where Moses received the Law. May the Lord bless you, Silas, and continue to fill you with His wisdom. He will use you for great things in His service. (The profile is marked "anonymous" [because I didn't know how to do any of the others], but this was sent by your grandmommy and granddaddy White.)
    September 8, 2016 at 10:40 AM

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  4. Dear Silas,
    I read this post back in the fall and took some notes and looked up some scriptures and intended to respond to you right then and there. As often happens with me, something got placed on top of that piece of paper and now, months later, I am uncovering it in one of my famous “archeological digs.” : )
    I was much encouraged by your writing and your thoughts about the priesthood. As a woman, I find it encouraging and validating that under the new covenant women are included in the priesthood. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
    When I think of priests I think of their service to God. “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for men, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3: 23-24. The challenge then for me is to determine what this means in my own life. I look at the example of Jesus and how he interacted with the people who came into his life. He loved them as himself. He extended his grace and blessed them with acceptance and compassion. This is my goal and this is my service, this is my spiritual worship.
    It is good to be reminded that our lives are not our own and that we live for God. We serve him with our acts of living. It gives me great comfort to know that he is the one who gives us the strength and the courage to carry out this service. “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength God supplies; so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ.” I Peter 4:10-11.
    Thank you, Silas, for sharing your thoughts and for being an encouragement to us all. Be strong and courageous!
    With love,
    Aunt Debby


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  5. Thank you so much, Aunt Debbie! That's really encouraging to me. God bless you!

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