KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
ALL THE EARTH IS MINE
"Now, therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE: and ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:5-6).
The subject of the Royal Priesthood, like many of the themes of Scripture, is inexhaustible. It sparkles as the twinkling stars of the heavens with glories which many have not yet beheld. Let us put our eye to the telescope of the Holy Spirit, and allow this grand subject to be brought nearer to our spiritual vision for, in so doing, we shall behold more of the grandeur and ineffableness of the "High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus," and of the purpose and majesty of OUR ONENESS IN HIM. This makes it mandatory upon us to remove the shoes from off our feet and tread carefully upon this holy and mysterious ground. But at the same time it also holds out the promise to us that we shall here gain an insight into some of the most marvelous and glorious things in God's whole mighty work of creation and redemption.
And just what is God's purpose? He declares, "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS." Since kingship was virtually the only type of government or state known in the ancient world, "kingdom" could well be translated today as a "government" or "state." A GOVERNMENT OF PRIESTS! A PRIESTLY STATE! A HOLY NATION OF PRIESTS! God offered to Israel this glory of being a "kingdom of priests." ALL the tribes were to be priests. Because of their failure to enter the land at Kadeshbarnea and because they made and worshipped a golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving God's law, only one tribe was chosen to be a priestly tribe and that not on behalf of the world, but on behalf of the unbelieving, rebellious people of Israel! God's purpose remains, however, to have an entire nation of priests in the fullness of what priesthood means. Israel collectively was to be a royal and priestly race, a dynasty of kings and priests, each member uniting in himself the attributes of king and priest. Every man a king! Every man a priest! A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS!
There is a strong and instinctive need in this world of sinful men for a priest, to be a mediator, to lay one hand on man, and the other on God, and going between them both to bring the two together into unification. A priest or priesthood infers that there is a reason why such has been called into play. It denotes that there is an estrangement between God and His creatures and the priest ministers to bridge that gulf and bring about peace and atonement.
Webster's dictionary defines priest as: a mediatory agent between God and man. In the Old Testament the word priest is translated from the Hebrew word COHEN, the root meaning of which is "one who stands up and draws nigh for another." The Greek word, in its root, means "to minister." Thus, a priest is one who "draws near and ministers on behalf of another." And the priest always draws nigh and ministers in TWO DIRECTIONS - drawing nigh to God on behalf of the people and drawing nigh to the people on behalf of God. The priest stands and ministers unto the Lord on behalf of the people while, on the other hand, he ministers unto the people on behalf of the Lord. The ministry of the priest is thus an intermediate or go-between ministry. He reaches out with one hand and takes hold of God; he reaches out with the other hand and takes hold of humanity; and brings the two together by virtue of his priestly ministration.
THE DIVINE SANDWICH
I have often characterized our text as the GREAT DIVINE SANDWICH. A sandwich is two slices of bread between which is placed meat, fish, cheese, or the like. Three items are necessary to make a sandwich, the two outer items - two identical slices of bread - and in between another, and different, item. Such is the structure of our text. There are two statements of like nature surrounding and enclosing another and different kind of statement. Notice the two outer statements: (1) Ye shall be a PECULIAR TREASURE unto Me above all people (2) Ye shall be unto Me TKINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation. Then, "sandwiched" in between these two wonderful promises is this remarkable word: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE.
Can we not see by this that the purpose of God to establish in the earth a Royal Priesthood is rooted in the great fact that ALL THE EARTH IS HIS? That all the earth is His answers the WHY of priesthood. Long milleniums ago at Sinai the cry went ringing forth: "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE," and the words that follow may correctly be stated thus: "BECAUSE ALL THE EARTH IS MINE ... ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests."
ALL THE EARTH IS MINE
In the light of this Scripture I would like to reaffirm something which the world at large, and many Christians, seem to have forgotten: THIS IS GOD'S WORLD! Long before time began...long before a single heavenly body inhabited the vast regions of space ... GOD WAS. When He told Moses to tell Pharaoh that the "I AM" had sent him, God was talking about His eternal, present-tense existence, before anything else had been "framed by the word of God." I cannot - try though I may - picture a time when there was nothing but God in all the vast expanse we call SPACE ... not one star, planet, or galaxy. I cannot imagine what it could have been like not to have a world ... with its towering mountains, its vast canyons, and its majestic waterfalls thundering down from the awesome heights in indescribable power, then sweeping on to the seas. The total absence of all these things is beyond my poor, limited comprehension. But the truth remains, as stated in the first four words of Scripture: "In the beginning God..."
Long before the worlds were made ... long before the billows rolled across the boundless seas ... long before the mountains thrust their towering, snow-capped peaks up through the clouds... long before there was one flower, or the song of any bird, or the roar of any beast... yes, long before there was anything at all ... THERE WAS GOD. Then the blessed Word of God rolls back the curtain of antiquity and shows us God at work, creating all that is, and all that ever was. This passage of Scripture goes a mighty step further and establishes for all time and eternity the OWNERSHIP of this world: "In the beginning GOD created the heaven and the earth." He made it, and it is His. No one can take it from Him. It was then that God wrote His signature of ownership - a signature that reaches from the earth to the farthest outposts of the cosmos.
There is an understanding that is developing in the consciousness of the "called out ones," those who are going beyond the static creeds and empty traditions of the Church systems and pressing on into the purposes of God, to know that ALL the earth is the Lord's. Not just a tree or two, not just a mountain or two, not just the Church, but all of it, the very fullness thereof. We are His whether we know it or not, we are His whether we like it or not, whether we desire to serve Him, or whether we are presently in rebellion against His will. It is both heartening and assuring to read such Scriptures as these: "The EARTH is the Lord's, and the FULLNESS THEREOF; the WORLD and THEY THAT DWELL THEREIN" (Ps. 24:1). God has everything in the palm of His almighty hand. He is sovereign. Jesus is King! Jesus is Lord! Job said, "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of ALL MANKIND" (Job 12:10). The current population of planet earth is more than four and a half billion. For 1990, it is projected there will be six billion, and by the year 2000, it is estimated there will be six and a half billion residents on our planet. GOD GIVES BREATH AND LIFE TO THEM ALL AND THE EARTH IS THE LORD'S AND THE FULLNESS THEREOF.
The prophet Daniel penned these inspired words: "The Most High ... liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth ACCORDING TO HIS WILL in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" (Dan. 4:34-35). God is saying to us that HE IS SOVEREIGN. Another way to express that truth is: God owns the earth and everything in it - He does what He wants to do and nobody can stop Him from doing it. In particular He is sovereign with what He does with the earth. God does not have to ask anybody's permission to do anything He wants with any part of the earth - and none can hinder or resist Him!
Now, I was raised with the mentality that somehow the devil got the whole thing and that the earth belongs to "the prince of the power of the air" and "the god of this world." NO, IT DOESN'T! God owns it all and He gives it to whom He wills. He has the right to appoint stewards over creation based on His purpose and their faithfulness, regardless of moral, religious, or other considerations.
Let us look at three people in the Scripture whom God raised up to rule in the earth. Isa. 44:24 to 45:7 talks about Cyrus, the Persian king whom God put in charge of the earth. In Isaiah, the prophet called Cyrus God's shepherd. That's astounding, to think God would raise up a heathen king to accomplish His purposes in the earth. God says, "I will raise up Cyrus, My shepherd, and he is to rule over the whole thing by My divine appointment." In Dan. 4:28-37, we discover that Nebuchadnezzar ruled by God's divine appointment. If we think of the Kingdom of God as a democracy, we are falling short in our thinking. There's only one vote - and its God's! He says, "I'm going to appoint you, Nebuchadnezzar, and you're going to be the king and you're going to rule, and I will establish you in all the earth. And I'll give you wisdom and power and might and majesty." He promised it to him and it happened. Then when Nebuchadnezzar started thinking that he had done it himself, God said, "I'll take it from you." God took the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar by allowing him to lose his mind for a season. He lived in the wilderness, ate grass like a cow, had long hair all over his body, and his fingernails grew like bird claws. At the end of this humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar repented and blessed the God of heaven as the only source of all kingdoms and powers and confessed that God was fully able to "humble those who walk in pride." If we look again in Daniel, we find that Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzars son, had the same problem with pride that his father did, and so God also smote him in an instant and took away his kingdom. Truly, "The earth IS THE LORD'S and the fullness thereof!"
If the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, then we need to somehow come to understand that God has never at any time dealt with Satan on a percentage basis. God never did tell Satan that he could have ninety percent and God be satisfied with ten percent. Neither did God ever say that Satan could have even ten percent and He, God, would be satisfied with ninety percent. WITH GOD IT IS ALL. It ALL belongs to Him. First, because He created it, and second, because He redeemed it. God has assigned to Satan a limited sphere of influence over the creation, for the outworking of God's wise and wonderful plan, but HE HAS NOT CEDED NOR TRANSFERRED OWNERSHIP OF EVEN ONE INCH OF IT TO SATAN FOR A POSSESSION. To say that there is any part of God's creation that Satan will possess forever is a horrible blasphemy against God. As one has written, "Not always, however, shall men be in opposition to our Creator, for after all present travail is ended, and man has run his course of self-will and rebellion, there shall be an inflow of the love of God into every heart which shall draw the creature back to his Creator, to serve Him with a whole heart, and worship before Him in complete obedience to His will. So great a transforming power is the operation of His grace in man, that we shall come to Him in love, and serve Him because we want to serve Him, freely and joyfully."
When Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, blessed Abraham, He said to him, "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, POSSESSOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH." This word possessor comes from the Hebrew root meaning to erect, create, and thus TO OWN. From a verb meaning to contain, or hold. As the Scripture says, "IN HIM we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). He contains us, even before we begin to contain Him, as the INDWELLING CHRIST. Man has been HELD by God, long before man ever received God into his own being to contain Him. HE is the POSSESSOR of heaven AND EARTH. Furthermore, "BY HIM all things consist," or are held together, and "Thou hast created ALL things, and for THY PLEASURE they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11). This answers the question of the apostle, "Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also" (Rom. 3:29), for He is "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num. 16:22) and He has decreed, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, ALL YE LANDS. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we (all lands) are HIS PEOPLE, and the SHEEP OF HIS PASTURE" (Ps. 100:1, 3).
IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE GOD'S WORLD!
I will be the first to admit that this world doesn't look very much like something that is owned by the great and good God. At 5:30 A.M. on July 16, 1945, a light brighter than a thousand suns illuminated the desert sands of New Mexico. One scientist who was watching wept. "My God," he exclaimed, "we have created hell." Ah, our world is on fire, and man without God will never be able to control the flames. The demons of hell have been let loose. The fires of passion, greed, hate, and lust are sweeping the world. We seem to be plunging madly toward self-destruction. We have entered an era of political perplexities, disasters, strikes, gold scares, bankruptcies, bank failures, terrorists, riots, bombings, anarchists, godless communism, floods, hurricanes, droughts, pollution, industrial disasters, the whole social structure crumbling and even nature reacting violently. We have murders, rape, muggings, pornography, sodomy, divorce, immorality, and blasphemy and abominations of all kinds daily invading our homes in the papers and on television, a sin for which God will certainly bring us to judgment.
I look out over the world today and I see demons stalking through the lands, with literally billions of people held in the prison houses of the dense darkness of false religions, worshipping idols, and devils, and the gods of superstition, tradition and fear. I look out over the world today and I see the spirit of strife and hatred and war, thousands dying daily at the hands of terrorists, in bloody revolutions on the battlefields of the world. I look out over the world today and I see more than one third of the inhabitants of earth, nearly two billion people, enslaved under the iron heel of godless, atheistic communism. It doesn't look much like God's world, but IT IS!
I look out over the third-world nations today and I see poverty and squalor and ignorance on an incomprehensible scale, millions of people starving to death, pitiful little children with protruding eyes and stomachs bloated from malnutrition, without hope in the world. I look out over the industrialized nations of the West today and I see untold millions of people bowing before the gods of humanism, secularism, and worshipping before the shrines of the gods of pleasure, sex, perversion, and debauchery. Fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are all a big joke, just something to laugh about. In America alone there are nine million alcoholics. There are ten million drug addicts. There are twenty million homosexuals. There are fifty million fornicators and adulterers. One thousand Americans are infected with venereal disease - not every year - not every month - not every week - not every day - but every hour! Ah, it doesn't look much like a world that belongs to God, but IT DOES!
I look out across our land today and I see millions of our children on drugs, spaced out, angry with the world, hostile to parents and all authority, and out-of-joint with society. I see that evil teachings, incredible in their filth and degradation, have crept into our public schools on every hand while God, prayer, and the Bible have been thrown out and openly ridiculed. I see a giant crime wave of unprecedented proportions sweeping across our cities, New York City alone has between five hundred and a thousand bank robberies each year, rape is out of control, murder is commonplace, and nothing and no one is safe on our streets anymore. IT DOESN'T LOOK MUCH LIKE A WORLD THAT GOD WOULD OWN, DOES IT? BUT, HE DOES!
This present evil world is hideously marred by SIN. Let us make this thing more personal. Go with me to yonder hospital, and listen for just a moment to the cries and moans of the sick and the suffering. See the red eyes wet with tears, and think of the bleeding hearts behind those tears as they carry that loved one away. Go with me to yonder prison and see the young lives blighted and shriveled with sin, caged up like wild animals. Follow me now to yonder asylum, and listen to the unintelligible jargon of those poor, pitiable souls with their aberated reason and deranged minds, probably because of an act committed by their grandfather when he had his fling, and the very walls seem to whisper the word, SIN, S-I-N! It doesn't look very much like God's world, my friend, but IT IS!
I can't really imagine how much a million is. A dollar a day since the birth of Christ would total only three-fourths of a million dollars. I can't imagine the suffering of a million people, let alone a billion or four and a half billion. Yet, that's the reality of today's world. Famine, illness, fear, oppression, exploitation, poverty, hopelessness, sin, all that is the daily lot of billions of people. Doesn't look like a world that belongs to God, does it? But, IT DOES!
YE SHALL BE A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS
I earnestly pray that God will give a spirit of true humility to all who read these lines, for revelation and understanding are given only to those who humbly confess their ignorance before God. I am persuaded that the professing Church which so glibly speaks of "the priesthood of all believers" actually knows and understands practically nothing about God's ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. God's express purpose for forming the Royal Priesthood in the earth during this present age is because ALL THE EARTH IS HIS. "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests." God is preparing a priesthood because He owns the earth, the whole world, and all they that dwell therein.
The Scriptures clearly reveal how ownership is one of the central thoughts in both creation and redemption, the link that binds them together. Two things are always inherent in ownership - purpose and responsibility. Do you not know that if a person makes or buys anything he surely has some PURPOSE in mind for it? And is it not also true that when a person makes or buys anything he has a RESPONSIBILITY to it? The man who buys a good hunting dog has a definite purpose in owning the dog, and if he is not a hunter he will not buy it. With ownership of the dog there comes the responsibility for the dog, to feed and care for it and treat it humanely. You have, I suppose, sometime bought something? As you have paid your money for it and it was delivered to you did you not have a plan for it? And are you not now responsible for it?
Take a simple illustration. Almost twenty years ago Lorain and I bought a house in Sarasota, Florida. It was a lovely little two bedroom white frame house, entirely adequate for that time. Some years later the Lord led us to Mississippi to live and minister among a group of saints, and we were there for almost two years. During that time we rented our house in Florida. The original tenants left, and we rented the house to a man and his wife and grown son, none of whom we had previously known. You wouldn't believe what those people did to that house within the space of a few months! Evidently, they did not sweep those beautiful hardwood floors even once, the dirt was ground into the wood until the entire finish was ruined. Windows were broken out. Water had run over the kitchen and bathroom floors and the tile were loose. The furniture was demolished, the sofa was propped up on bricks and great gaping holes stared at us from other pieces. On and on the disaster went. Needless to say - because we were the owners - it didn't take us long to swing into action! The tenants were promptly given notice and evicted. Then followed the long and tedious process of RESTORATION. Ah, BECAUSE WE OWNED THE HOUSE we had PURPOSE for it and RESPONSIBILITY to it. Because of that purpose and responsibility we were willing to spend the money that had to be spent, expend the energy involved in long days and weeks of hard work until ALL WAS RESTORED to its original beauty and usefulness.
We love with a deeper intensity the children of our own procreation. Suppose a father has five sons, four normal and one abnormal, will he not lavish more love on the abnormal than on the normal ones? Is there any price that he can pay, however great the sacrificial cost, that he will not provide if perchance he may redeem the abnormal one? Is there any effort possible that he can make that he will not undertake in order to restore that one to normality? Lift it up to the spiritual plane and we have the necessity in the heart of the great Creator, the good and gracious Father of all mankind, to provide REDEMPTION AND RESTORATION FOR HIS CREATION, the work of His love! And it is from this great fact of GOD'S OWNERSHIP of the world that He says, "Because all the earth is Mine...ye shall be a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS!" Because it is His He has a plan to do something about the wreckage that sin has made. God has a purpose for, and a responsibility to, His creation. The Royal Priesthood is the instrument through which Christ's redemption shall be ministered, restoring all into Him again.
Johnny came home with a bad report card and put all the blame on teacher who had it in for him. That was not the end of the world, but it was almost the end of the world when, unleashing the tragic holocaust, Adolph Hitler blamed the Jews for all the woes of the world in his day. "Scapegoatism" is old. Adam put the blame for his sin on Eve, and Eve shifted the blame to the serpent. But God, the great Proprietor of all does not place the blame on others - HE HIMSELF TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY for all that has happened to His creation. "For the creation was subjected to frailty - to futility, condemned to frustration - not because of some intentional fault on its part, but BY THE WILL OF HIM WHO SO SUBJECTED IT. Yet with the hope that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption and gain an entrance INTO THE GLORIOUS FREEDOM OF GOD'S CHILDREN" (Rom. 8:20-21, Amplified).
We are not in this life because we willed to be here in this world. The whole human race is not here because of its will. God is RESPONSIBLE for our existence here in the flesh, lowered into the realm of vanity, sin, and corruption. Adam was not responsible for his existence, for God by HIS WILL brought him into being. In fact the whole race of humanity is God's responsibility. We are here because of his plans, desires, purposes, and will, and God is a God of PRINCIPLE. He having begun a work, will finish it and not throw it aside because it was marred by Satan and sin which He knew was coming.
Ah, while men are busy blaming others for the world's problems, and the devil for their own, God Himself as Owner of all takes His great responsibility for all and therein lies the basis of the whole scheme of creation and redemption. Rom. 11:36 says from the Diaglott, "Because OUT OF HIM, and THROUGH HIM, and FOR HIM are all things. To Him be the glory for the ages. Amen." The Amplified Bible beautifully renders this, "For FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and TO HIM are all things. For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be glory forever! Amen." To say the least, it will give us great peace of mind and heart if we can see and understand that all things came out of God and were created by Him. And it will help us greatly if we can understand that God as Creator and Owner takes responsibility for the world today. GOD IS RESPONSIBLE for every human being that has ever lived, is living, or who ever will live. And because He is responsible and has great purpose for His creation HE WILL DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
God has a plan! Indeed, God has a wonderful plan for this world! It is a plan of which the architectural drawings were made in eternity. It encompasses the minutest detail of all creation. I assure you that when time has run its course, and when the last trump has sounded and the veil is dropped upon the scene, we shall discover that that plan has been worked out to its very tiniest detail, just as God had planned it in eternity - that His will has been done! That is an amazing thought because it often seems as if the world is flying off unattended, like a chariot where the driver has fallen off, the horses are running wild, the reins are flapping in the breeze, and it is threatening to go over the precipice at any moment. Yet the Scriptures would have us know that God, the sovereign Lord of history, has His hands firmly upon those reins and that His plan is coming to pass. Think about it! Our God is perfect in all His attributes. He is perfect in His power. He is perfect in His holiness and justice. He is perfect in His love and mercy. He is perfect in His wisdom and omniscience. Therefore, His plan must be perfect. Indeed it is a perfect plan!
I cannot believe, as some naively believe, that God could ever be satisfied with a world gone awry and a people gone astray, such as we see in evidence today. Just as sure as we restored our demolished home, so certain is it that God will save and restore a lost world! "Because all the earth is Mine, ye shall be unto Me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS." God has provided the redemption of the world in the sacrifice of Calvary, and now raises up a Royal Priesthood, a many-membered Priest in union with the great and compassionate and faithful High Priest in the heavens, our Lord Jesus the Christ, to minister the claims and power and blessings and benefits of His redemption unto men until all have been restored into His image.
A. E. Saxby wrote: "The character, as well as the ability of the maker, is visible in the thing that He makes. If a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, then it is certain that the great Creator of all, who is holy in all His ways and righteous in all His works, who is good and only doeth good and whose tenderness is over all His works, can design nothing the end of which is not pure happiness and usefulness. Whatever catastrophes may have intervened, and however mysterious are the processes by which His goal will be reached, it follows, from the fact of His impeachable character, that the consummation of His work will justify all His methods. So wide is His care, and so minute, that a falling sparrow is noted and remembered. Peter gives Him the title of 'the faithful Creator,' meaning thereby that His responsibilities are fully met in a manner only possible to infinite power and love. If His creatorship yearns over a broken bird, how much more will it reckon with all the forces that have combined to mar the image of Himself in the man He has made. If He employs the discipline of a father, the sacrificial love of a mother, the stern justice of a judge and the passionate affection of a husband - and all these are figures chosen by Himself to set forth His attitude towards men and His work for and in them - it is to the end that His great designs of love may ultimately triumph. If He turns men to destruction, it is that He may say, 'Return ye children of men' (Ps. 90:3). If the vessel is marred in the hand of the Potter, it is that He may make it again another vessel (Jer. 18:4). If His work is marred, then His own face will be more marred than any man's, that He may buy back those who have sold themselves for nought. Creation is full of mysteries, but the revealed character of the Creator suffices to assure us of a triumphant solution to them all. Only a traitor to His person and character would deny such a God this certainty!"
A great preacher has shared this beautiful insight: "Never can it be said that a holy God loves an unholy thing. And yet God loves sinners - bringing the often-repeated question, 'Why?' GOD LOVES THEM FOR WHAT HE SEES IN THEM OF HIS LOST AND FALLEN IMAGE, for God can never love anything directly but Himself! God loves everything else for His own sake. 'For THY PLEASURE they are and were created.' God sees in Jesus Christ what you would have been. And this is why God loves lost men. He loves them not by excusing their sin; not by taking an attitude of carelessness; not by any willingness on His part to become morally lax - but He loves them because He once stood and said, 'Let us make man in our image.'
"Here is an illustration that could fall within our own human experience. A man and a woman meet. After falling in love, they marry and have one child, a son. They have a great deal of pleasure as they consider the boy's features. Each says that he looks like the other. Then they change it around and insist that he looks like this one - then again, that one. But the child is their son, and they try to see each other in that boy! The years pass and the boy grows up and approaches manhood. The hour comes when he breaks with society. He chooses to go outside the law. He drinks, gambles, lies, steals, cheats - and then he murders. He becomes a fugitive from justice, known to be vicious and cruel. The father of that lad dies before the outlaw is caught and thrown into prison. But the grieving mother goes to see him.
"She knows he is finished. Evidence of every kind is against him, fingerprints everywhere, a thousand witnesses. He will pay for his crimes. The mother looks through the bars. It is her son standing there, now a full-grown man. Can she love his cruel deeds as an outlaw? Can she love those heartless acts of gangsterism? Does she love his cold-eyed cruelty? No! She hates them with everything in her good heart. But as he stands there, cornered and silent, she sees beyond him in her memory the man who is no longer with her, and she thinks, 'If only he had been a good boy - he would have just been the image of his father.' She pours out her heart in tears, doesn't she? She loves the boy - but she does not love one thing in him that made him an outlaw! She loves THE IMAGE OF THE MAN SHE LOVED and to whom she gave herself with the promise to follow until the separation by death. And she loves her son, for in him she sees THE LOST AND FALLEN IMAGE of the man she loved!
"We know that God looks down at the human race and sees us in our awful sin. The apostle Paul has recorded seventeen deeds which he describes as the works of the flesh - but they are only the beginning. It would take many sheets of paper to write down the long and dreadful list of sins that man has been capable of committing and is still doing. God is still looking and He hates jealousy, deception, lying, gluttony, uncleanness, impurity, cruelty. We cannot ever think that God loves sinners carelessly, loosely, foolishly, with the thought: 'I don't care - I love them anyway!' No, it is plain that He loves them because He sees in them THE LOST AND FALLEN IMAGE OF WHAT ADAM WAS AND OF WHAT CHRIST IS and loves them REDEMPTIVELY now for Jesus' sake" -end quote.
I believe that God now loves all lost men. There are lost men in jails and prisons and insane asylums. They are in saloons and brothels and in death and judgment and hell, and God loves them all. He still remembers them and remembers His Son on the tree, suffering and dying on their behalf. And in the redeemed body of this resurrected and glorified Son He now prepares a Royal Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, a SON COMPANY, a KING COMPANY, a PRIEST COMPANY, to restore mankind into the image of God again. "Because all the earth is Mine, ye shall be unto Me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS!" The earth, the world, and all they that dwell therein belong to God first because He made them, and second because He redeemed them.
In Rom. 8:20 Paul moved by inspiration states that the whole creation groans for this "priesthood." I put "priesthood" in there, but that's exactly what He's talking about. The whole creation groans for the MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD for "the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21). 1 see it. I see something stirring in the atmosphere. I see a people being taught of God, purged, purified, processed, perfected, taking on the mind of Christ, transformed again into the image of God, taking their rightful places - sons and kings and priests unto their God. They have received a vision of what they are destined to be in God, and of what they are being prepared to do for creation. The message of the hope of sonship and the high calling of God in Christ Jesus is going forth in power in this hour and circling the globe as multiplied thousands of the Lord's people are heeding the call. God is removing from the hearts of these the foolish desire to "fly away" to some far-off heaven somewhere, as He unfolds within their ransomed spirits the beautiful PURPOSE He has in His firstfruit company. "Because all the earth is Mine, ye shall be unto Me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS!" You'll have to pardon me, for I may seem slightly crazy, but lately I've wanted to rush out into creation and run up to a tree or a river or the vilest of sinners or into the most impossible situation and say, "Hang on - the manifestation of the sons of God isn't far off. Its even now beginning in the earth!"
Blessed indeed is that company of King-Priests, the Kingdom of Priests, the Royal Priesthood that sings the glad-anthem: "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS: AND WE SHALL REIGN ON THE EARTH" (Rev. 5:9-10). Priests that REIGN! Priests that REIGN OVER THE EARTH! Ah, precious friend of mine, if ever you would reign over the earth, first you must be possessed of a priestly nature - the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of the Royal Priesthood is rooted in the redemptive work of Calvary. Through death our Lord Jesus Christ actually bought back THE WORLD, A-L-L_ O-F_ I-T, unto Himself. No, He did not reconcile only a few believers unto Himself. Let us forever forsake the kind of blasphemous ignorance that can contradict the words of inspiration: "GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING_ T-H-E_ W-O-R-L-D_ UNTO HIMSELF, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES UNTO THEM; and hath committed unto US (THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD) THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION" (II Cor. 5:19). Oh! that we all might somehow come to realize the enormity and compass of Christ's redemption! Satan would ever limit that work, would discount and belittle it, and eventually set it aside. He would keep men blinded to the enormity of the sweeping declaration of Jn. 4:42, "This is indeed the Christ, THE SAVIOUR OF T-H-E W-O-R-L-D," and, "He is the propitiation for OUR (the Church's) SINS: and NOT FOR OURS ONLY, BUT FOR THE SINS OF THE_ W-H-O-L-E_ W-O-R-L-D" (I Jn. 2:2).
Do you not know that if a person buys anything he will surely TAKE POSSESSION of it when it is brought to him? You have, I suppose, some time bought something? As you have paid your money for it, was it not turned over to you, and were you not willing to receive it and take possession of it? And if it were not turned over to you after you paid for it, would you not then take appropriate measures to see that it IS DELIVERED INTO YOUR POSSESSION? The higher the price you paid for it, the less was there any doubt that you would take possession of what you paid for. "But" - you will perhaps answer - "if I buy something, I know what it is, and that it is worth the price I paid. But THE WORLD, with its sinful heart and self-will and rebellion and wickedness - there is reason to fear that He who purchased it will not receive it, will not possess it. When I buy an article and another of less value is sent to me, I refuse to receive it; I send it back with the message: 'This is not what I bought and paid for.' " You are right, but consider what the difference is between Him who bought the whole world, and mere human purchasers. He bought what He KNEW WAS BAD, precisely BECAUSE IT WAS BAD; and which HE WILL ACCEPT AS BAD, THAT HIS LOVE MAY HAVE THE JOY AND GLORY OF MAKING IT GOOD. How wonderful this is! The Scripture says: "Christ died for the ungodly; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It says, further, that the price of Christ's blood was paid for those who denied the Lord, for those who sold Him, even for His rejectors. What love!
We must realize how inseparable REDEMPTION and POSSESSION are. Neither can exist without the other, but redemption leads to possession. Redemption is too often looked at from its negative side as deliverance from, deliverance from sin, from drunkenness, from lying, etc. But its real glory is the positive element of being redeemed UNTO HIMSELF. Full possession of a house means occupation: if I own a house without occupying it, it may be the home of all that is foul and evil. God has redeemed me and made me His own with the view of getting complete possession of me. He says of my soul, "It is Mine," and seeks to have His right of ownership acknowledged and made fully manifest. That will be the full outworking of redemption when God has entered in and taken complete and entire possession. It is redemption that gives God His right and power over me; it is redemption that sets me free for God to now bless and possess: it is redemption realized and filling my soul, that will bring me the assurance and experience of all His power will work in me. In God, redemption and possession are one.
The Scriptures are clear - the WHOLE WORLD belongs to God first by creation, and second by redemption. The ministry of the Royal Priesthood is to minister to the creation on behalf of God that He might have entrance to possess all of what He has paid for as His habitation. God's priests know and understand that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein. God's priesthood knows that the Lord has a right to every heart, and the devil has a right to NONE. We are going to press the claims of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit upon every heart of every man, woman, and child in this age and in the age and ages to come until our great and glorious God fully and completely possesses all that He has redeemed for Himself, praise His wonderful name!
As a member of the Royal Priesthood I shall fight that battle for the supremacy of Christ. I shall claim that every foot of this earth and every man upon this earth and under the earth belongs to Christ, for He made the earth and He made every man and He "tasted death for every man." Therefore, every foot of the earth; and every man on the earth and under the earth belongs to Christ my Lord. I claim for His this great and universal Kingdom. The Church has forgotten that the Christ came to establish a Kingdom and that it must break in pieces and CONSUME (take into itself) every other kingdom including the devil's kingdom. The Gospel which Christ preached was the Gospel of the KINGDOM OF GOD. The hope and aim of all His work was the establishment of the Kingdom of God. When the end shall come, He shall have subdued all things to that Kingdom, He shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be ALL IN ALL.
Those who have received the call to the Royal Priesthood preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of the triumph of that Kingdom in every realm. We demand that every man upon this God's earth, and under the earth, and throughout the universe, shall bow the knee and glorify God by calling Jesus Lord and serving and obeying Him with a willing heart. God shall grant it! If it takes ages upon ages to accomplish, God shall grant it!
I notice that America was discovered at the time when Christianity was waking up from the long dream, the terrible night, of the ten centuries of the Dark Ages. The Church of God had gone down into deep darkness and degradation, until Truth was almost lost and liberty destroyed. I notice that the great power of the Christ reawakening the conscience of the sleeping Church began to move amongst the nations at the time when Europe, Asia, and Africa became aware of the existence of the American Continent. Now there are no more continents on this earth to discover, for all the earth is known, and scarcely upon this round globe is there an island that has not been placed upon the map. The whole world now knows the extent, the height, and breadth of land of all the area of this earth. Its highest mountains have been measured; its deepest depths have been explored, even visited, and the whole world is known. Now that we know it, the one great thought is WHO SHALL POSSESS IT?
"Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for THY POSSESSION," says the Messianic Psalm. Christ conquered, and He is conquering, and He is to conquer. I claim this earth for God for He made it. I claim this earth for God, for the earth is the Lord's. The sea is His, and He made it. His hands formed the dry land. I claim everything that comes out of the bowels of the earth for God, for "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" and "all the gold and the silver is His." I claim every man in Crystal River, and in Miami, and in New York, and in Hong Kong, and in Peking, and in Moscow and in the whole wide world for God, for "it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." I am not willing to wickedly cede even one thing or one person to the devil, as do some, for "the earth is the Lord's; the world, and they that dwell therein." Amen!
I proclaim to you, as a minister of God, that the Church is here in this world for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The body of the Christ IS the Kingdom of God in this world and its King-Priests must reign until the kingdoms of THIS WORLD become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ. I can never be satisfied, the heart of God can never be satisfied, until I see the Kingdom of God in every heart, the Kingdom of God in the home, the Kingdom of God in the workshop, the Kingdom of God between employers and employees, the Kingdom of God governing the civic affairs of the city, the Kingdom of God in the government of the state, and the Kingdom of God ruling in every nation and every land. I proclaim the Kingdom of God, and I tell you that God has sent salvation to save us from the kingdom of men, and of devils. The rule of men will never meet the needs of men. The rule of men will never please God. The rule of men will never deliver the world from hate and war and death. The foolish statement that you so often quote: "That government of the people is to be by the people and for the people" is a fallacy that must be destroyed. The government of the people is NOT to be by the people, but the government people is to be BY GOD, and FOR GOD. Not by the people and for the people, but government of the people by the great God who made them, and came and died for they are to live for Him. The government of God is not an external government of laws and bureaucracies and armies and guns, but the internal rule of His Spirit as He sits enthroned upon the throne of men's hearts. Transformed into the image of Christ, indwelt by the mind of Christ, filled with the attributes of Christ, men need NO EXTERNAL FORCE to manipulate, control, direct, or govern them. "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:21).
Because all the earth is His God is raising up a Royal Priesthood to reign in mighty spirit power and authority over the earth, not to be little human dictators but with an outflow of life and light and love, touching God with one hand, and humanity with the other, bringing the two together, that God may indwell men by His Spirit and live and rule in them in power and glory. The kingly nature in us is not to dominate over men's lives, but to deal with and break the power of self-hood and rebellion and sin and the devil that men may be reconciled unto God. Kings have power and authority, priests reconcile in mercy and love. But once the reconciliation has taken place, and the Christ is enthroned, we deliver men up to God, even the Father, that GOD IN THEM MAY BE ALL IN ALL. That is the principle of the Kingdom. We rule only to subdue them unto God - then GOD RULES IN THEM. He rules first THROUGH US, that He may rule finally IN THEM.
God has always wanted a priesthood. The priesthood is foundational to the outworking of His redemption and central to His plan of the Ages. The covenant of God still stands today: "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then ye shall be A PECULIAR TREASURE UNTO ME ABOVE ALL PEOPLE: for all the earth is Mine: and YE SHALL BE UNTO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, AND AN HOLY NATION." Oh, beloved, come, let us now open our hearts wide to Him. Come, and as we gaze upon this glorious ministry and its life-flow to all the families of the earth; let us yield ourselves unto God that He may work His wondrous work in our lives, bringing us into such union with Jesus, the High Priest of our profession, that we become in nature and power His ROYAL PRIESTHOOD in the earth! The manifestation of the Sons of God for which all creation is in travail is nothing more nor less than the full manifestation of God's fully developed and empowered body of KING-PRIESTS AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEK. Those apprehended unto this ministry are, indeed, A PEOPLE FOR A PURPOSE!
To be continued ...
J. PRESTON EBY
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas
If you would like any of these messages or would like to be on J Preston Eby's mail list you may write him at the above address or e-mail me at Gary@Sigler.org and I will forward your request to Preston. He has nothing to sell, all his writings are free to all. You may contribute to his ministry to help spread this message to the world, but gifts are not tax deductible.
J. Preston Eby
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas 79937
If you would like any of these messages or would like to be on J Preston Eby's mail list you may write him at the above address or e-mail me at Gary@Sigler.org and I will forward your request to Preston. He has nothing to sell, all his writings are free to all. You may contribute to his ministry to help spread this message to the world, but gifts are not tax deductible.