Many of the things that happened under the Old Covenant were types and shadows of what would come under the New Covenant. One of those types was the institution of priests who would hear from God and then instruct the people in God’s commandments and principles. God called out the tribe of Levi and set them apart unto Him. They were to hear from God and speak His words to the people. They were to live according to God’s law and hold up an example of holiness so the people could see what these laws looked like being walked out in daily living.
“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23) But, little by little, God’s priests stopped teaching God’s word and stopped being examples of His holiness. In so doing, they led many astray and turned them from God. Yet, it didn’t change anything about God’s Word. It changed the people’s relationship with Him. God said, “Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy (sacred) and the profane (secular), they have not taught [people] the difference between the unclean and the clean...” (Ezekiel 22:26 Amplified) The prophet Malachi gave these words from God to the people. “For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:7-8)
The people stopped serving God because the priests were unfaithful. The priests broke their covenant with God and taught the people to do the same. They condoned what God condemned. They were speaking their own words and attributing them to God, but they were not God’s words. They were eventually judged and punished for their disobedience after God had given them numerous warnings to come back to Him.
We may think that has nothing to do with us, but it actually has a lot to do with those who belong to Christ. Revelation 1:5-6 says, “Unto him [Jesus Christ] that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” We have been made priests by Jesus Christ, our High Priest. We have been set apart unto Him, not unto our own wisdom or agenda, but unto Him. Jesus instituted our priesthood under the New Covenant. 1 Peter 2:5, 9 and 10 says, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
If we are walking in the light and are true Christians, then we are called as priests unto God. We have the same mandate as the Old Covenant priests. Jesus commissioned all His followers in Matthew 28:19-20. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The early disciples heard God’s Word from Jesus and were commissioned to tell it to the people. They followed Jesus’ commandments and lived in obedience to Jesus’ principles. And they had the power of God with them. The early priests had followed God’s laws and principles, too, at first. But somewhere along the line they compromised and stopped speaking truth to the people and stopped holding God up as holy by their own holy lifestyles. So have we. It seems most members in Christian churches have stopped seeking to hear from God. They have stopped living in the righteousness provided by Jesus, and have lost the authority of His Word and power of His Spirit.
This generation has compromised the truth and is leading people astray, because there is no longer a clear distinction between the holy and the profane. Yet, God has not changed His principles. It simply changes the people’s relationship with God. A lack of knowledge of God’s Word will condemn the guilty. Knowledge of His Word will warn the guilty and allow them to make a choice of whether or not they will accept the conditions of the New Covenant. Jesus’ gospel is the only way to eternal life.
Every Christian has the responsibility of living God’s Word and being a testimony of His saving power. We also have a mandate to spread the gospel to others. The power of God was with the early disciples because they were carrying out Jesus command to “go”. Without the faithfulness of God’s people to hold the Word out as a guiding light, this world has no compass as a reference point to help them find their way. Many have no knowledge of Jesus and no direction in life. They remain lost because we have ceased to make God’s Word clear by our words and example. So, what can we do to change that?
God said, “Yet from the days of your fathers you have turned away from My statues and ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’”
We can return to Him. We can go back to the place where we stopped following God and His Word. We might need to ask some hard questions. Are we more in line with what the world says, or with what the Bible says? Do we know the difference, or have we allowed ourselves to confuse the two because of politically correct protocol? Do we act like Jesus? Do we think like Jesus? Are His priorities our priorities? What are we spending more time on than we are with God? Instead of adjusting to the world’s climate, we need to search the Scripture and follow what God says. Don’t depend on your memory of what the Bible says. Go directly to the Word. Look at the issues in our society and search them out in the Scripture. What does God say about these issues? Some of the recent topics are abortion and same-sex marriages. If you want to know what God says, it’s in the Bible. God also has a lot to say about anger, bitterness, adultery, vengeance and envy. Once we know what God says, we have to decide whether to go His way or not. If we want to follow God and we pick up the Bible to guide us, I believe we will find that we need to make major changes in our lives. Some may seem severe, but that is only a reflection of how far we have departed from His Word. We need to return to living a separated life unto God, holding up the holiness of God in our daily living.
I am sometimes amazed at what people believe about God, heaven, hell, salvation and what it means to be a Christian. It is so far from what the Bible teaches. It seems most people think acts of kindness and acknowledging that God is real secures us a place in heaven, and that’s all that really counts. This kind of belief is dangerous because it gives a false hope and false sense of security that keeps people from entering God’s kingdom. Where do they get these ideas? Maybe from priests who no longer hear from God. Somehow the true gospel has ceased to be taught in many churches and homes. So we have failed people who think they are okay and on their way to heaven.
It is a counterfeit gospel that promotes a god who accepts everyone into his kingdom because he is good. God IS good and He will accept those who come to Him in repentance from sin and who move forward into a new life following Christ’s teachings and example. But He will not accept sin. Those who continue in sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. If He accepts sin in His kingdom, there was no need for Jesus to die for us to remove our sins. True repentance doesn’t just thank God for forgiveness and continue in sin. Those who truly repent walk according to the Word of God. Jesus makes us a whole new creation and changes who we are inside. Because of the inner change, the outward changes, too. It is not a matter of following the law. It is a matter of having the law of God in our hearts and the power of His Spirit empowering us to live as a changed person. Those truths are becoming more and more foreign among us. Even in Christian circles, those who follow the Word of God are considered strange. How sad that we are so far removed from God’s principles and His power! And yet, we proclaim to be His followers. What a confusing message we are sending this world. And we are deceiving ourselves.
While we cannot force people into the kingdom of God, we can give them the truth of the gospel so they can make their decision with a knowledge of the consequences of sin and of what Jesus has done to save us from those consequences. The message of the gospel is a light to lead us to truth and freedom. We are to share it in its purity with others. We don’t need to start a crusade against evil as much as we need to speak and live the truth plainly. But we need to speak the truth out of love and with compassion to draw in the lost, not with condemnation and vengeance against them. God’s priests had stopped making a clear distinction between truth and error, righteousness and unrighteousness. Let’s not make the same mistake.
What kind of priests are we?
Faithful? Or Unfaithful?
Are we speaking truth?