KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
THE PRIESTHOOD OF MERCY
"But ye shall be NAMED the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God...for as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness to spring forth before all nations" (Isa. 61:6,11).
Perhaps you have heard the question, "What's in a name?" A name is more than a moniker, more than a simple badge or means of identification, something by which we address people specifically and individually. In Biblical usage there is MUCH in a name. True, the names we give our children in this modern day usually have little or no significance. We often name our children after some favorite aunt, uncle or grandparent, or choose a name because we like its sound or association. But in Bible times names were chosen with great care and were frequently given by prophetic utterance or under divine inspiration so that the names actually revealed the NATURE, CHARACTER, ATTRIBUTES and DESTINY of the person, and thus carried a message to all who spoke or used that name.
In a very real sense the "name" of a being is regarded as being a real part of the person. In a certain sense there can be no separation whatsoever between a man's name and what he is as a person. If you think about it, we, who live in this "modern" world, make the same kind of connection for we say that a man's name is what he makes it to be by what he does and says. Some are said to have a "name for honesty," while others are declared to have a "bad name." In such instances the "name" and character are one and the same. In the Old Testament the innermost being of a man is expressed in his name. This is why Esau declares of his conniving brother, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? (Supplanter) For he has supplanted me these two times" (Gen. 27:36). Abram, which means "father," had his name changed to "Abraham," meaning "father of many nations," for such he was to become in very fact. His wife also was given a change of name from Sarai, which means "contentious," to "Sarah," meaning "Princess," for, said the Lord, "I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be of her."
There is the feeling that one's name actually possesses a certain power over its bearer because it cannot be separated from the essence of his personality. In the name of Nabal, the husband of Abigail, is found the expression of his essential character. Seeking to excuse him she says, "As his name is, so is he! Nabal (Fool) is his name, and folly is with him" (II Sam. 25:25). This same principle is to be seen in the life of the patriarch Jacob. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord he underwent a change of attitude and alteration of character which was accompanied by a change of name. Having seen the "face" or presence of God he was no longer the same man that he had been before his encounter with the Lord. Since "name" and character are absolutely identified there had to be a change in Jacob's appellation. The Angel of the Lord, therefore, said, "Thy name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel (Prince): for as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Gen. 32:28).
The name of the Son of God is Jesus. That is His complete name. That is His correct name. That is His full name. The name of the eternal Word of God who stepped across the stars to the planet earth to be born in the little village of Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem, is Jesus. That is His complete, proper, full name. His name I is Jesus. The angelic messenger appeared to Mary and announced, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Mat. 1:21). The name Jesus is exactly the same as the Old Testament name Joshua. Joshua or Jesus - its the same name. And Joshua or Jesus or YeHoshua means "salvation of Jehovah." So when the mighty angel Gabriel appeared, he said, "Call the child that which will be descriptive or characteristic of what He is going to be and do. Call His name that which will describe His accomplishment." The messenger said, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, or thou shalt call His name Saviour, FOR He shall save His people...call Him Saviour because He is going to SAVE."
Biblical names were almost invariably given to project, to convey some major aspect of the individual who would bear that name. Since He would be the Salvation of Jehovah unto His people, call Him Saviour. Some of you are saying, "Now hold the fort, Eby, isn't His first name Lord and His last name Christ?" NO! Neither Lord nor Christ is a name. It is very important that we understand that. Christ is not a name. Christ is a position. Christ is an office. Christ is a title, as also is Lord. Christ is a description of an individual who holds a particular office. If I were to say to you, "What is the name of the man who holds the highest office in the United States of America," you would say, "His name is Ronald Reagan." And if I said to you, "What is his office?" you would say, "President." You understand immediately that his name is distinct from his office. Now we might call him "Mr. President," but we're calling him by his office, not by his name. His name is Ronald Reagan; his office is President. When I speak to you about King, that is an office. When I speak to you about Prime Minister, that's an office. President is an office, Prime Minister is an office, Christ is an office - its not a name. Christ comes from "Christos" or in the Old Testament "Mashiyach" - the Messiah. And Christ literally means "anointed,)' or better, "THE Anointed One." When we're talking about the Son of God, we're saying that His name is Jesus - Saviour. His office is Christ the Anointed One. God has MADE Jesus to BE CHRIST.
The inspired prophet summed up in one bold statement what it means to be a priest of God. "Ye shall be NAMED the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God" (Isa. 61:6). There is marvelous significance in that one word "named." Named! You shall be N-A-M-E-D the priests of the Lord. This passage forcefully reveals the great truth that all who would be priests of God MUST UNDERGO A CHANGE OF NATURE, to become priests by name, by nature, so that priesthood is not merely a title given to them but a nature lived out through them. If our spiritual minds can grasp the fact, to be NAMED the priests of the Lord means to be NATURED the priests of the Lord, to so be imbued with the priestly nature until we BECOME A PRIEST in our very state of being.
Jesus, when teaching His disciples in Mat. 5:38-48, said these words, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." In other words, give back to people exactly what you receive from them! This is the way of the human nature. If someone blacks your eye, then blacken his in return. This is the way the human nature desires to do. In a Sunday School class the teacher had been teaching on the principles in the Sermon on the Mount, and she inquired of little Johnny, "Johnny, what would you do if Tommy slapped you on the right cheek?" He answered, "Teacher, I would turn the other one." And then as an afterthought he said, "But boy, if he hit that one, I would beat the stuffing out of him!" This little fellow was just being true to his human nature. Jesus went on to say, "But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel you to go with him a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh you, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn him not away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate shine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you."
Ah, to act thus is contrary to human nature. The human nature wants to retaliate in the way it has been treated. If someone loves us and is gracious to us, we seek to requite their love and kindness; but if they strike us, we want to strike back. If they curse us we return the same to them. Jesus said, "It is easy to love those who love us, the publicans and sinners do that." But to love those who hate you and despitefully use you, that is something else! To be able from the heart, by nature to do these things that Jesus teaches us here is evidence of the possession of the divine nature. Not to so act as one under law or compulsion; but to so love and forgive and bless because it is within our nature to do this - then we are getting somewhere in God! It requires a change of nature. It is not natural to be a priest, it is not according to the human nature to respond to the shortcomings, insults, injuries, sins and wretchedness of men with understanding, compassion, mercy and redemption.
Jesus continued, "That ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." You see, God makes no difference; He is not a respecter of persons. He treats the evil man exactly the same as He treats the good. He sends His rain on the just man and on the unjust alike. He will treat the rebellious the same way as He treats the obedient. This is OUR FATHER! And we are His sons, those who share His nature, who think as He thinks and act as He acts. This is what it means to be named - NATURED - the priests of the Lord! Let us note in passing, the Authorized version says, "that ye may be the children of your Father in heaven." The Greek word here is "huios" meaning "sons," mature sons, not little children. Mature sons are NATURED priests!
Why did the eternal Word of God become a man? Why did He have to? What humiliation and sacrifice He endured when He stripped Himself of His glory, and took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh! George Wylie relates the following experience from his eventful life which beautifully expresses the purpose of Christ in descending into the estate of man. "Years ago, when I was still at home on the farm, we had a manure pile in the field; the former owners had been cleaning out the barn and piling the manure there for years. There was a colony of snakes living in this manure pile, and on a sunny day one could see several of them lying on the sunny south side sunning themselves. One day I was emptying a load of manure on the north side, and I sneaked up over the pile to get a look at the snakes. There were several lying there; and as I stood observing them, the Lord seemed to say to me, How would you like to become one of those creatures and live among them in this manure pile? I shuddered at the thought. I just couldn't comprehend how terrible it would be. To lower myself to that extent was unthinkable. Then the Lord said to me, 'For my Son to leave His home in the glory above, to become a man in the likeness of sinful flesh, for your sake and your salvation, was much worse than that.' I have never forgotten that experience. It made me appreciate much more the sacrifice He made for me" - end quote.
The writer to the Hebrews put it this way: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a MERCIFUL AND FAITHFUL HIGH PRIEST in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:14-18). When the Word of God consented to be made flesh, to strip Himself of the glory He had before, and become a man, a human being, to live among the vileness of the sinful, rebellious and dying, to be touched by the same infirmities, weaknesses and feelings that touch us, to suffer being tempted in all points like as we are, to learn obedience by that suffering, to be rejected and suffer the agony of false accusation and the humiliation of ridicule, the pain of the stripes received from the Roman lashes and the suffering of the cross itself; why did He submit to all this? The stock answer to this is that He had to become a man in order to purchase our redemption. This is true. This is part of the reason He became a man, but only part of it; there is much more to the reason He became a man, much more. Not for one moment would I detract from His great love for us in the sacrifice He made for our salvation. Such love, such wondrous love! Words fail to express the wonder of all that was transacted at Calvary, and how thankful and appreciative we should be for it. But in the passage quoted above we see that He became a man, not only to die on the cross for our sins, but after having redeemed us, to become a High Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek, a faithful High. Priest and a MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST. Ah, Jesus could be the eternal KING without having been so totally compassed about with infirmity; but He could never be a MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST without it. He might have been perfect in character, and desirous to help us; but. if He had never tasted death, how could He allay our fears as we tread the verge of Jordan? If He had never been tempted, how could He succour those who are tempted? If He had never wept, how could He dry our tears? If He had never suffered, hungered, wearied on the hill of difficulty, or threaded His way through the quagmires of grief, how could He be a merciful and faithful High Priest, having compassion on the ignorant and wayward? But, thank God! our High Priest is a perfect one. He is perfectly adapted to His task.
The saintliness that cannot romp and laugh with little children, and looks askance on the sins and sorrows and tragedies in the world around, and shuts itself up in cloistered seclusion, is not the spirit of our great High Priest, who watched the children playing in the market places, and called them to His arms, and mingled freely at the dinner tables of the rich and famous and sinful. No; the saintliness that becomes a son of God must find its home in the ordinary homes and haunts of men.
THE NATURE OF MERCY
How many people excel in so many virtues, and live in a state of holiness so far as their conduct is concerned, and yet spoil it all with an unmerciful disposition. It has been said that there are only two kinds of sin: There are the sins of the body and the sins of the disposition. Christians have come to condemn the sins of the body as far worse. But listen to this, O sons of God: No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness, not adultery itself, does more to shut God up from men than unmercifulness. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short, for sheer gratuitous misery-producing power, lack of love and unmercifulness take the lead.
The sins of the body and the sins of the disposition are characterized by the Prodigal Son and by his Older Brother. But, ultimately, which was worse? And how many prodigal sons are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who profess to be inside? Analyze, as a study in mercy the thundercloud as it gathers upon the Elder Brother's brow. What is it made of? Jealousy, anger, pride, judgment, vindictiveness, uncharity, cruelty, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness - these are the ingredients of this dark and sullen soul. Judge if such sins of the disposition are not worse to live in, and for others to live with, and more destructive to God's gracious nature, than the sins of the body? Did Jesus not say that the harlots and the publicans enter into the Kingdom before the Pharisees? Why is a judgmental, condemning disposition so vile? Because it denies the very redemptive nature of God - His mercy! And I do not hesitate to tell you that no man can be a priest after the Order of the Son of God unless he be a MERCIFUL PRIEST. There are no others. The unmerciful will not stand in the company of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Let all men know that God is a GOD OF MERCY! "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities" (Ps. l03:8-l0). "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations" (Ps. l00:1,5). "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful" (Lk. 6:36). "Blessed are the merciful..." (Mat. 5:7). SONS OF THE HIGHEST will be merciful even as their Father! Webster defines mercy as: Benevolence, mildness, or tenderness of heart; a disposition that tempers justice and leads to the infliction of a lighter punishment than law or justice will warrant; clemency; an act or exercise of benevolence or favor; a blessing; compassion or pity, or the power to display either. Someone has written that "Mercy is forbearance from inflicting harm under provocation. It is compassionate treatment of an offender or adversary. It is the disposition to exercise compassion and forgiveness. In fact, mercy is compassion so great as to enable one to forbear punishing even when justice demands it. Many would sacrifice upon the altars of justice every offender without the slightest thought of mercy. But Jesus declared, 'Go ye and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."'
These are qualities and attributes of OUR FATHER. Our Father is MERCIFUL - and it therefore follows that His sons will be merciful as they manifest the nature of their Father. For long centuries Christendom has endeavored to make men sin-conscious, devil-conscious and hell-conscious. It reminds me of a story I read once of a little boy who went with his mother to the toy department of a store. A big sign read, "Children are not allowed to play with the toys or on the toys." Ignoring the sign, the little boy climbed on the hobby horse and started rocking back and forth. His mother said, "Come on, you've got to get down, you cannot play on that horse." He pushed her away and held on to the neck of the horse, even though she scolded and tugged at him. Finally, the clerk approached and said, "Sorry, but the sign says, 'No Children Allowed on the Toys.' But if your mother wants to buy it..." The boy ignored him so the clerk called the Assistant Manager who grabbed the boy's arm and repeated, "Sonny, you're not allowed to play on that horse unless you buy it." The boy pushed him away, so the Assistant Manager called the Manager. He also gave the youngster a lecture, explaining in very rational terms, "Sonny, if everybody came and played on these toys they would soon be broken and we could not sell them, we'd lose all our money. Now its time to get off the horse." The little boy hung on tighter. Frustrated, the store manager called the staff Psychologist, who proceeded to go through all the various behavior modification techniques and strategies to get the boy off the horse. But the kid wouldn't budge. Finally, a tough, burly old man, who had been watching the entire scene, approached the frustrated motivators and said, "Let me talk to him." He went over and whispered something in the boy's ear. Immediately the boy jumped off the horse and said, "Okay, momma, lets go home." Surprised, the mother asked, "What did that man say to you?" The youngster replied, "He told me, 'You get off the horse or I'll break every bone in your body!"
The Church has used the same technique to bring men to Christ and who can say that fear of judgment, hell and damnation has not motivated men to turn from sin to the Lord? Such tactics do indeed bear results, but the message of judgment must ever be counterbalanced with the demonstration of mercy. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 35:10). I remember some of those hell, fire and brimstone sermons that used to make straight hair curl, trying to scare people into heaven. I heard some preachers say, "God takes all the sins that He is holding in reserve against you and holds them over your head to keep you going straight!" Then they would thunder on, "You're going to have to face every sin because they are all written down in your book and held in reserve. On the day of judgment, God is going to take a big screen and projector and show all your sins to the world, including your family and friends. Then you will be cast into the flames of eternal hell, kicking and screaming and writhing forever without mercy." People really squirmed when they heard a message like that, and it seemingly moved some people toward God, but praise God, it isn't true!
Demonstrations of mercy, such as the world has never known, are now upon our horizon, ready to be manifested at our Father's appointed time. Concurrent with the darkness that covers the earth, and gross darkness spread as a veil over the people, is the LIGHT OF HIS GLORY which shall arise upon His own, a message of MERCY and HOPE. God is forming a merciful priesthood to minister unto all nations. God has prepared a divine show for all the earth. It is a light arising in the darkness and over the darkness. It is a theatrical of MERCY in a world of wrath and violence.
THE GOD OF MERCY
When Moses went up into the mount to receive the tables of the law, before ever that law was fully given to Israel, already there was a proclamation of the mercy of the Lord that would far supercede the law they were about to receive. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the NAME of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND ABUNDANT IN GOODNESS AND TRUTH, KEEPING MERCY FOR THOUSANDS, FORGIVING INIQUITY AND TRANSGRESSION AND SIN, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped" (Ex. 34:1-8).
Here was a startlingly new view of a Supreme Monarch on the earth, a King who forgives law-breaking, and trespass, and evil, to anyone who seeks that forgiveness. He will not clear the guilty as long as they remain guilty before Him, there would be a full accounting of iniquity, but even the penalty inflicted has limitations - "unto the third and fourth generations" - and then the correction ends and the Lord in wrath remembers mercy. But they need not remain guilty before Him, for even His law provides a way to His mercy. In that moment when the guilty are willing to meet God on the grounds of the mercy proffered for their forgiveness, they come to know Him, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin - and that was under the law! The Old Covenant was a supreme wonder on the earth, in the world of that time, exactly on that account: MERCY OFFERED TO ALL. There was not any other nation in whose law was revealed such a LORD and such a GOD, and the extent of His mercy was marked out by the sweet Psalmist of Israel who proclaimed, "The mercy of the Lord endureth for ever." What a revelation! There never was any law in any other nation like it, for that very reason: MERCY OFFERED TO ALL.
"And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. BUT GO YE AND LEARN WHAT THIS MEANETH! I WILL HAVE MERCY, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mat. 9:10-13). Jesus was quoting to them from Hosea 6:6 wherein the scripture wording is, "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." The Old Testament life and worship was built around sacrifices. The sacrifices meant this: That in the worshipper was the knowledge that all life belongs to the Creator. The worshipper came with the offering of the blood of an unblemished animal because God's own Word said to do so. The offerer came with the acknowledgment: "All life is Thine. I am a sinner and deserve to die. But Thou hast given me the right to offer this animal, in faith, on my behalf. And I acknowledge that my life belongs to Thee." That was the FAITH of the sacrifices, and sacrifice was the great central feature from the time that God sent the first family of man out of His Paradise.
Yet, here, we have Jesus saying, "Go and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy, AND NOT SACRIFICE." In Hosea the word is, "I desired mercy and not sacrifice." The word "desired" and the word "will" mean the same thing when God is speaking of Himself. In English we use the phrase "will have" as the equivalent of the term "desired." The clear intention of Jesus in quoting the passage, is to place before those heckling Pharisees a statement regarding the WILL of God - the WILL which He had come to do. They had asked, "WHY! does He eat with sinners? WHY does He do it?" And in His answer Jesus stated for all time what the direct WILL OF GOD is, between Himself and His creatures, and also for His people one with another. It is best to drop the English word "have" and use the straight equivalent of the Old Testament word "desired." Thus stated it is, "I WILL mercy, and not sacrifice." The word "desired" and the word "will" tell us what God wants us to know: I WILL mercy. If you will accept that as a seed into your heart, it will grow up, by doing it, into a glorious knowledge of THE SWEET WILL OF GOD.
Here is something so vital, so revolutionary, so wonderful that you cannot afford to have any controversy about it, or any doubt in your mind. "GO and LEARN what this meaneth, I WILL MERCY and not sacrifice, for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." They had wanted to know, "Why?" And Jesus in His divine answer tells them: It is because GOD'S W-I-L-L IS M-E-R-C-Y - and I am come to DO HIS WILL. So there you have it, precious friend of mine. Are you willing to know the meaning of this word, "I WILL MERCY"? Let me ask you a question. Deep within your innermost being, does your heart and mind give assent? Does your spirit bear witness, "Yes, that is the will of God!" If you are willing to face that point; and are willing to say that HIS WILL IS MERCY, then dear one, you can go out of the place where you are today knowing more about the Kingdom of God than you ever dreamed that you could know. No matter how impotent your life may have been; regardless how spoiled things have been for you; you can go forth as an expression of the WILL OF GOD. For if you will humble your mind and your will, before the revelation of the Word of God, you can move into a manifestation of the Kingdom of God and will and live there in the atmosphere of HIS MERCY to all.
Ah, even as priests-in-preparation, we are still in the learning process, learning to have mercy, learning to love unconditionally and infinitely and bless. How? By being subjected to all these situations wherein we ourselves need mercy, where we must obtain grace to help in time of need. In some areas we are so intolerant - because we have never been tested on that point, do not know what our own weakness would be in that area. But "every High Priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; FOR THAT HE HIMSELF ALSO IS COMPASSED ABOUT WITH INFIRMITY" (Heb. 5:1-2). As one has written, "He who is the Father of mercies shall also bring forth His SONS OF MERCY through whom He shall manifest His compassion and love for all mankind. It is because we are returning to our Father, receiving of His mercies, we are also learning to have mercy upon others. As we receive, so shall we give."
HIS MERCIFUL ONES
My earnest prayer to God is that all His dear sons shall learn this one grand truth: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Mat. 7:1-2). Note the words: Shall be judged - shall be measured. There are two kinds of judgement. One is of condemnation; the other is of mercy. The one is according to appearance and accusation of evil; the other is righteous judgment and according to truth and mercy. Jesus commands to "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment." He warns against the judgment which arises from faultfinding and condemning. The warning is this: You will be judged WITH your own judgment, and you will be measured with, or in, YOUR OWN MEASURE. The measure which you use for others is the very same measure which will be used for you - until you learn!
This is so serious a matter that it would seem as though all Christians would be overwhelmingly concerned over these words. But quite the contrary appears to be the fact. How quickly and easily these words are forgotten by many! The reason is that the human heart is a judgment seat, before which everyone passes who is seen or thought of. All day long we are sitting as Judge in the court of our unseen heart. Unseen, that is, to men. Judging others - ceaselessly all day. Day by day, night by night. We are judging, judging, measuring every one and every thing. We do not always need full and sufficient evidence because we love ourselves, and in that self-love we think that we know. We judge by whims, and feelings, and imaginations; by our own self-made standards, by what we like and don't like. We are the center. Our judgment is according to what people do or do not do in our favor - and for our benefit and glory - and for our satisfaction. We judge by appearance. And so wicked men judged Jesus, and drove Him to death - the guiltless One. Why? Because they did not know nor understand one small thing which is the true knowledge of God. What was that? MERCY - "I will mercy." And you and I will do the same until that beautiful day when the glories of the Melchizedekian Priesthood are unfolded before our wondering eyes and we see and know and understand once and for all the sublime fact that we have been apprehended and are now being prepared by the master hands of our omnipotent Father to be VESSELS OF MERCY, yea, a MERCIFUL PRIESTHOOD unto the whole world.
How precious this inworking of His grace whereby we are being transformed to become HIS M--E-R-C-I-F-UL ONES, How long we have Walked With God without learning what it means to "Have mercy," to become a vessel or channel through whom His mercy is poured forth. There has been far too much fight in us, a demand for justice according to what we perceived to be justice. "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called..." (Rom. 9:23-24
A royal priesthood! Merciful priests! The priestly heart is above all things a sympathetic, compassionate heart, in which the love of Christ constrains us to express His goodness unto men. A priestly heart! O Spirit of God! write upon my heart, with indelible letters, the merciful nature of my High Priest. It is my deep conviction that it is more important to manifest the nature of the Christ in meeting a person's need, than in witnessing to people about the "plan of salvation." Christians have become so conditioned to the idea that they aren't "doing anything for God" unless they get out and witness and skillfully use the sword of the Word of God. But, my precious brother, sister, when you are merciful and help people in their desperate need, you BECOME A LIVING WORD to them which says, "I care and God cares for you!" That doesn't mean that we exalt ourselves as Jesus; it simply means that Jesus is living His life through us. We become a Word that is alive to them, not a dead, printed word, or a religious word, but a Living Word. This is a life to be lived, and it is more important than witnessing, quoting scripture, preaching or teaching. Instead of witnessing, we BECOME THE WITNESS of what our Father is REALLY LIKE.
There is no need to be skilled in the wisdom and ways of this world, no special talent is needed, no training, no education, wealth, power, or attainment in order to BE A VESSEL OF MERCY. Any saint of God can be a merciful priest any day, because there are people who need help every day! When we care for them, we are bringing the heart of God to them in the place of their need. Our Father cares for every soul that has ever seen the light of day upon this planet. The way that He has chosen to reveal that He cares is through His MERCIFUL PRIESTHOOD. That is why it is important for us to know what God is like. Do not glory in wealth, or wisdom, or might, or the things of this world, my friend, but glory in this, that you know God, that He is a God of justice and a God that is filled with kindness and tender mercies that endure forever.
It is the property of God to always have mercy. His mercy is above the heavens. It is from everlasting to everlasting. He has provided a way that the banished may always return. There can be no limits to God's mercy. Men have limits to their mercy, but our God has none. The mercy of God is not only mercy, but it is tender mercy. It is mercy of the utmost tenderness and love. It is mercy which reaches to all. Christ Himself manifested that mercy. It is mercy without any alloy, pure, and without any keeping back. It is mercy without any remembrance of the transgression. It is the blotting of it out. It is the casting of it into the deep sea of eternal forgetfulness. It extends through all time and into eternity. Those who would be priests of the Most High must exercise His mercy. When you exercise mercy it must be in great tenderness; not grudgingly, not by force, but because you desire to do it. Gentle and heavenly mercy is of God. When God speaks of mercy, He uses a figure which is of the sublimes" character. He says not only that His mercy endures forever, but that His mercy is above the heavens, as if it were the dome of Infinite Love over all. Matters not where are the heavens of His justice and wrath; His mercy is higher than all! It shines brightest in the fair crown of God Himself. It seems as if it were the central diamond in the diadem of heaven. On the brows of all who are God's sons there is no brighter gem. He sets a crown of forgiveness and tender mercy upon our brows. When we are merciful and kind and compassionate, we are most like God. Those who are merciful to their fellow men shall obtain mercy without measure.
I am not excusing sin. I am not watering sin down. Every unconfessed and unrepented of sin shall receive a just recompense of reward. But the King-Priest ministry after the Order of Melchizedek has been sent to DELIVER, and not condemn the world! Blessed are these peacemakers. It takes a real man to stand between two warring spirits and swallow up the death and hell in both without being contaminated. We have been invited to participate in this MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY of forgiveness and blessing.
If you are a priest there is something about you which is not ordinary; you have distinct and distinguishing characteristics. You are equipped with Christ, filled with Christ and clothed with Christ. Whatever you handle, you will handle with Christ; whatever you do, you will do with Christ. You will manifest Christ. There are many ministries for priests to perform. Preachers can only preach, singers can only sing, witnessers can only witness; but priests can touch all men with the mercy and love of God right where they are.
THE MERCY SEAT
Exodus chapter twenty-five gives the description and instruction concerning the Tabernacle of Moses, the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat which was to be over it. The commandment of the Lord to Moses was to take an offering from all whose hearts willingly offered, and construct a Tabernacle - a Tent-of-meeting. It was to be the LORD'S TENT in the midst of the great encampment of the tents of Israel. The specifications were exact concerning every detail of that Tent, the various instruments of service, and the surrounding wall of boards. Everything was planned to make it possible to take it down and re-erect it with speed. Israel was on the move toward the Promised Land. The Presence of the Lord was visibly with them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Tabernacle was to be peculiarly the place where the Fire rested. All of this was GOD'S plan, fitted to the revelation He was giving of Himself.
The Tent-of-meeting consisted of two parts: The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:31-34). These were separated by a veil, a large curtain of blue and scarlet and fine twined linen of cunning work with Cherubim. The veil was to be hung on four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold: their hooks of gold and their sockets of silver. The Ark of the Covenant was to be brought within the veil, and the veil was to divide between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. For a cover for the Ark of the Covenant Moses was to make a "Mercy-Seat," a slab of solid gold, in fact a lid, with Cherubim, one at each end facing each other, and all in one piece. The tables of the law of the Lord were to be put in the Ark and the Mercy Seat placed above it. The Mercy Seat, or Throne, was to be put upon the Ark of the Covenant within the veil, in the Most Holy Place. It was there - upon the Mercy Seat - that the glory of the God of Israel dwelt, and from there God communed with His people and set judgment and mercy in the midst. "And thou shalt put the Mercy Seat above the Ark...and there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the Mercy Seat, from between the two Cherubims which are upon the Ark" (Ex. 25:21-22). "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel...Thou that dwellest between the Cherubims, shine forth" (Ps. 80:1).
The covering of the Ark of the Covenant was the place of the judgment-of-mercy for forgiveness of sin. It was the Judgement Throne of the Invisible One, Israel's King. It was the Throne of Mercy! Everything in the law of Moses centered in that Mercy Seat. All the sacrifices had to do with that Mercy Seat within the veil. All the shedding of blood of offerings had to do with that one chief sprinkling of blood upon the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Throne was, in the arrangement of things, the center of all. The Tabernacle was in the center of the Camp. The Most Holy Place was in the Center of the Tabernacle. The Mercy Seat was in the center of the Most Holy Place. So the Mercy Throne was in the center - or midst - of everything. The Mercy Throne was what the Most Holy Place was made for! The Mercy Seat was not a "seat" as we know a seat; the old English word means the "origin" or "center," just as you speak of the "seat of pain" or the "seat of government" as the point of origin of it. The Mercy Seat was the place where MERCY ORIGINATED. This is the description of something supreme - M-E-R-C-Y!
The Mercy Seat is an absolute picture of Jesus Christ. There is no wood in it at all. It speaks of God and all that is the nature of God as revealed in Christ. The word for Mercy Seat in the Greek language is HILASTERION. In the New Testament there are only four verses that use this word, as follows: "And over it the Cherubims of glory shadowing the MERCY SEAT" (Heb. 9:5). "Whom God bath set forth to be a PROPITIATION through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past" (Rom. 3:25). "God...sent His Son to be the PROPITIATION for our sins" (I Jn. 4:10). "And He is the PROPITIATION for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I Jn. 2:2).
From these four verses you will see that the Greek word HILASTERION has been translated both as MERCY SEAT and also PROPITIATION. Christ, we are told, is the propitiation for our sins. This word is also Mercy Seat. As a brother in the Lord has pointed out, "There is a principle to be found in spiritual truth and experience which can be briefly stated this way: THE HIGHEST ORDER OF ANY THING IS TO BECOME THAT VERY THING. Thus, in relationship to our Lord, whatever it was that was spoken of, be it a door, a way, a shepherd, etc. every symbol and type was personified in Him, as He declared, 'I AM THE WAY' - 'I AM THE DOOR' - 'I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.' 'If you look for the fulfillment and consummation thereof, look to Me, for I AM"'- end quote. So - Jesus Christ BECAME OUR MERCY SEAT and now, blessed be God! we have a faithful and MERCIFUL HIGH PRIEST who is also the seat, the center, the origin of EVERLASTING AND INFINITE MERCY.
Yes, Christ is our Mercy Seat, He is our propitiation. The word propitiate means to appease, to sooth, to cause to be favorably disposed, to conciliate. Now this leads to a point of immense importance. We often hear it said that "the death of Christ was necessary in order TO RECONCILE GOD TO MAN." This is a pious stupidity, arising from inattention to the language of the Holy Spirit, and indeed to the plain meaning of the word "reconcile." God never changed - never stepped out of His normal and true position. He abideth faithful. There was, and could be, no derangement, no confusion, no alienation so far as He was concerned, for He was infinite and unchanging Love from the beginning; and hence there could be no need of RECONCILING HIM TO US. In fact, it was exactly the contrary. Man had gone astray; he was the enemy, and needed to be reconciled. Wherefore then, as might be expected, the Scriptures never speak of reconciling God to man. There is no such expression to be found within the covers of the New Testament! "God was in Christ RECONCILING T-H-E W-O-R-L-D UNTO HIMSELF, not imputing their trespasses unto them." And again, "All things are of God, who hath reconciled US to Himself by Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 5:18-19). In a word, it is God, in His infinite mercy and grace, through the cross of Christ, bringing us back to Himself.
If the Christ, who is our Mercy Seat, the origin of all love and grace and life, had turned away from us, we would have at once been everlastingly finished. I do not hesitate to tell you that God is not dismantling His Mercy Seat, He is not taking His Spirit out of the earth, the day of grace is not, as the preachers so ridiculously proclaim, about to end; indeed, it is barely beginning! Therefore, though we have but tasted of His mercies, through vast ages yet unborn He will continue to unfold the riches of His grace, manifesting it through His vessels of mercy, until the fullness thereof is revealed, and God becomes, finally, ALL-IN-ALL.
It would be amiss to conclude this article without pointing out that ultimately, becoming ONE IN CHRIST, we shall also fulfill this same ministry. Growing up INTO HIM who is the Head, coming unto the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST, partakers of the heavenly calling of HIS PRIESTHOOD, Kings and Priests reigning WITH HIM upon His throne - all bespeak the same truth - we are destined to BECOME HIS MERCY SEAT. This beautiful truth is stated so simply, yet graphically, in Ps. 103:4, "Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." In the Hebrew "lovingkindness" is HHESED; "tender mercies" is RAHHAMIM, which is equivalent in power to our English word "compassions." This is the God of all grace placing a crown upon those who rule with Him. This is the God of love placing upon your head the insignia of anointing as one of His King-Priests. What IS this crown, this kingly, priestly anointing, this power and authority to rule? HHESED and RAHHAMIN - LOVINGKINDNESS and TENDER MERCIES! Or it can be stated as: mercy and compassions.
Think of it! God's Crown, God's Ruling Authority and Power! Crowned with MERCY! Ruling by MERCY! This is truth of unfathomed depth. What kind of a crown do you have in mind when you think of "wearing a crown" in the Kingdom of God? It is my prayerful hope that these words will prove helpful in bringing many of God's precious elect into their crown-fitting. "In mercy shall the throne be established" (Isa. 16:5). "Mercy shall be built up for ever" (Ps. 89:2). It is when this MERCY COMPANY has fully become, matured in the nature of God, then shall the completeness of the MERCY THRONE be revealed in the earth. Christ is now "our" Mercy Seat, and in due time God's firstfruits are to become that Mercy Seat for others - to unfold God's transforming mercy to all. I mentioned earlier that the Mercy Throne is what the Most Holy Place was made for. As we today are given boldness by the blood of Jesus to truly enter the Most Holy Place not made with hands - the realm of God's fullness - may we enter humbly with this knowledge, and in this spirit - the Most Holy Place is prepared and ordained...for MERCY! It is made just for the Mercy Seat. The unmerciful will never stand on this holy ground. No place here to view any man with the thought, "does he deserve it?" We have not deserved it, any more than any man, we had no merits to claim His favor, but it was freely given to us just the same, and from this holy station we shall learn to freely give in like manner, not imputing men's sins unto them, but revealing HIS REDEEMING MERCY.
This is oft times difficult for those priests-to-be who have come out of the church system with a heavy hangover of condemnation and charging every man with guilt and shame. It was a sin to do this, it was a sin to do that, and we were so sin-conscious that we were not able to kindle any consciousness of the awesome power of HIS ABOUNDING MERCY.
This truth might well be illustrated by the children's story of the sun and the wind In the little make-believe story, the sun and the wind discussed which of them was the strongest. The wind said he could prove that he was the strongest by blowing the coat off a man who walked on the road below. So the sun slipped behind a cloud and Mr. Wind started blowing until the man thought a tornado had come up. But the harder the wind blew, the tighter hold the old man took on his coat. Finally the wind saw that he could not blow the man's coat off, so he gave up in defeat. Then it was the sun's turn to try. The sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man. Presently the warm loving rays of the sun caused the man to pull off his coat. The sun had proved that the power of love and light and kindness is stronger than fury and force!
How we have ranted and raved and stormed at men about their sins and judgment! But it has been well said that "There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; No disease that enough love will not heal; No door that enough love will not open; No gulf that enough love will not bridge; No wall that enough love will not throw down; No sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the problem, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangles, how great the mistake - a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all - if only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world."
Ah - perhaps now we can understand something of the divine wisdom that, when it purposes to save a world gone awry, says, "FOR GOD S-O L-O-V-E-D THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son..." Then to the bearers of that love He bids, "LOVE your enemies... And God in Christ has enough love to go around, praise His wonderful name!
To be continued
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.