Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
An interesting ceremony occurs in Leviticus 8:4-11. Moses summons Aaron and his sons into the doorway of the tabernacle and consecrated them. This action consisted of four distinct things.
For those of us in 21st Century America who are millennia removed from this ancient ceremony of the Jewish people, those actions are about as foreign as any that we might consider. But, they all worked together as part of a process of “consecration.” Yet, the idea is timeless, that of being regarded as holy because of having been devoted to the Lord.
The New Testament tells Christians that we are “priests” (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6). Aaron and his family engaged in religious ritual and ceremony as well as representing people to God. While our function includes the latter, “proclaiming the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9), we have also been set apart to engage in religious actions for God (1 Pet. 2:5). Romans 12:1 tells us we offer up our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Our lives are to be dedicated to Him, set apart for His use.
But the process of becoming a priest is just like the process mentioned there in Leviticus 8, if only in a spiritual sense. We are commanded to become priests (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22ff; 3:21). Our induction into this job requires a washing (Rev. 1:6; cf. Acts 22:16). We are given “special clothing” (1 Pet. 3:3; 5:5; cf. Gal. 3:27). The New Testament speaks of this in terms of “anointing” and “sprinkling” (1 Pet. 1:12). When we came into Christ, we entered a life of significance and importance. We were accepting a grand, sobering job. We have been made holy by the blood of Christ, special and dear to God. At the same time, we are set apart for God’s use. One is an undeserved blessing. The other is an unsurpassed responsibility. Let us be grateful for Jesus’ gift that made this priesthood available to us, then let us embrace the monumental task of representing Him to the world and showing the world about Him through our very lives!
I thought about this question as I meditated today on the state of the church in our nation. Composed of so many dedicated, wonderful people, the church as a whole, nonetheless, is tempted to drift from biblical moorings. It is anecdotal to observe seismic philosophical shifts in the leadership and direction of various congregations, pulled for one reason or another from the place and being the people God wants it to be. The whole wilderness analogy is drawn from the events in the book of Numbers, a wandering that went for forty years in the wake of a 40-day scouting trip. It might have been different for Israel, and it can be different for us. Return with me for a moment to that fateful event that would forever shape their nation.
We live in daunting times, yet in them God still has given us a job to do. If we do not do it or if we fail to do it the way He has commanded, we will wind up, like Israel, in the wilderness! God give us the leadership, faith-filled obedience, and courage to follow Christ and thereby miss the wilderness.