KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end time revelation
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
"Thou...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" (Rev. 5:9-10). This passage is one of rare beauty. It is like a precious diamond, the effulgence of whose radiance dazzles the mind. It must be engraved deeply upon every heart of God's Royal Priesthood. It exalts and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. "THOU hast MADE US!" THOU! There is so much depth to that text that I am afraid that we often do not perceive it. It is like a beautiful star-studded sky on a bright clear night and one cannot even begin to grasp the vast depth that lies above us. So it is with these marvelous words: "Thou hast M-A-D-E U-S TO BE KINGS AND PRIESTS!" Can you say that? As we plumb its depths a little more I hope that you will ask yourself the question more carefully, "Am I being MADE a PRIEST unto God? Is the process of transformation into the priestly nature taking place in my life?" My deepest desire for you, dear one, is that you will come to be able to experientially say these words: "Jesus Christ is MAKING ME A PRIEST!" Not in the sweet bye and bye - but in the nasty HERE AND NOW!THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGSThere is a wonderful contrast drawn in Rev. 4:11 and 5:10, wherein it is stated, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast CREATED ALL THINGS, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created...and hast MADE US unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign upon the earth." O Child of God, consider how great and full of meaning these words are! "Thou hast CREATED all things...Thou hast MADE us." There is a world of difference between the terms "create" and "make." Away back yonder in the dim and distant ages that are gone it was written, "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God CREATED AND MADE" (Gen. 2:3). The phrase "created AND made" is a faulty translation, and it is so pointed out in the margin of some Bibles. It should read, "...which God created TO make." Young's Literal Translation renders this verse, "And God blesseth the seventh day, and sanctifieth it, for in it He hath ceased from all His work which God had PREPARED FOR MAKING." Another translation says, "And God proceeded to bless the seventh day and make it sacred, because on it He has been resting from all His work that God has CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING." In other words, God created the whole vast universe for the purpose of forming or making it into something He still had in mind!The word "create" literally means, in Hebrew, "to select for a formative process." The New Webster's Dictionary defines its meaning as: To bring into being; produce; specifically to evolve from one's own thought or imagination. "Thou hast created ALL THINGS." We do not live in a world made up of a single ball of solid matter. Our earth is but an infinitesimal part of a marvelous and complex system. Since the dawn of history man has marveled at the mystery and grandeur of the heavens. On a clear night, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, can be seen as a star-studded ribbon circling the sky. Our earth is a massive sphere some 8,000 miles in diameter; yet the sun has a diameter 100 times larger than the earth. Viewed from afar, our solar system - the sun and nine revolving planets - would appear as a disc in space nearly eight thousand million miles across. And now consider this - three hundred and fifty million solar systems are reported with their suns, planets, and satellites in our galaxy aloe`! Then beyond all this, far beyond our Milky Way are additional THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS OF GALAXIES - as common as blades of grass in a meadow! So far, using the largest and most sophisticated telescopes, astronomers have probed the universe to a distance of over one hundred thousand million million million miles. If we could ride on a beam of light at the speed of 186,000 miles a second, it would take some ten thousand million years to travel this distance! Still, astronomers have been unable to find the edge of the universe. Perhaps it is endless; no one knows. With this in mind, how great are the words of inspiration: "Thou hast CREATED A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S!"The Bible opens with one of the simplest and yet most profound statements ever penned by human hands. "In the beginning - GOD!" How awesome to realize that there was a time when there was nothing - absolutely nothing - but GOD! There was no earth, no moon, no planets, no sun, no stars, no galaxies, no angels, no devils, no men, nothing anywhere but God Himself. And yet there was such a time. Paul caught something of the sublimity of this eternal and self-existent One and wrote to the saints at Colosse: "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible...all things were created by Him, and for Him: AND HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS; and by Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16-17). Let me emphasize this wonderful and important truth. "He is before all things" means that He is not Himself one of the "things." He is B-E-F-O-R-E ALL THINGS. And just as sublime is the truth that "by Him ALL THINGS CONSIST." Young's Literal Translation renders this literally from the Greek: "Because IN HIM were the all things CREATED...and Himself is before all, and the all things IN HIM HAVE CONSISTED."This raises an important question. If God was "before all things," then OUT OF WHAT did God CREATE all things? When I was a boy we had a "Sunday School" definition of the word create. "To create," I was told, 'means to make something out of nothing." To my young and unlearned mind that sounded altogether logical. After all, I thought, if God is God, and God can do anything, then surely it is no problem to God to MAKE SOMETHING out of NOTHING! But as I grew older and learned something of the laws of physics, I discovered a simple but demonstrable fact, namely, that out of nothing - nothing comes Also, out of something you get no more than that thing is able to contain. You cannot take a gallon of milk out of a pint bottle unless you refill the bottle again and again. You cannot put a hundred dollars in the bank and take out a thousand. The man who seeks to take out of the bank far more than he put in will find himself a recipient of free board and room for many months to come! This, then, is a fundamental point of natural law. We recognize that out of nothing, nothing comes. And even God, in all His omnipotence, DOES NOT MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING!If there was ONLY GOD, and absolutely NO THING other than God, what kind of material did God have at His disposal out of which to construct all things? If you were standing completely alone, with nothing but your own being existent, what material would be available for making something other than yourself? The answer is, of course, YOU WOULD HAVE TO MAKE THE "THINGS" OUT OF YOURSELF! And friend, this is precisely what God did. Now we can understand the full import of those words inspired by the blessed Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul: "Because IN HIM were the all things created...and Himself is before all, and the all things I-N M-I-M HAVE CONSISTED" (Col. 1:16-17, Young's Literal).God couldn't create the world from dirt, because dirt is part of the "things" He created. He couldn't create it from magma, for magma is part of the "things" created. He couldn't create it from gases, for all the gases in the universe are among the "things" created. I trust you can see, dear reader, that since God was BEFORE ALL THINGS, and since it was IN HIM that all things CONSISTED, it is abundantly clear that the verysource and substance of things IS GOD HIMSELF! Of the energy and substance of His own Being God brought forth and created all things - OUT OF HIMSELF! "Because OUT of Him, and through Him, and for Him are ALL THINGS. To Him be the glory for the ages" (Rom. 11:36, Diaglott).To create means to form the visible from the invisible, taking that which is not seen and fashioning it into something that can be seen, taking the inaudible and making it audible, causing the intangible to become tangible. This is why artists and musicians are said to "create" paintings and music. They draw from the invisible and undiscernible emotion, imagination, and inspiration of their OWN SOULS and produce upon canvass or as a musical composition the exquisite beauty, form, and harmony of that which existed only in the invisible realm of thought. Inventors, in a certain way, are creators. The visible out of the invisible - that is CREATION!THOU HAST MADE US PRIESTSWe have noted that God created TO MAKE. Create and make are not the same thing at all. God both creates and makes. In creation He has produced all visible things from the invisible properties of energy inherent eternally within Himself. But to "make" bespeaks the taking of that which is already visible, created, and CHANGING OR ALTERING ITS FORM so that it acquires a new identity and state of being in the visible world. The New Webster's Dictionary defines "make" as: To bring into being by SHAPING a portion of matter or by combining parts or ingredients. As I write this article I sit before a hugh oak desk. This desk was one time a tree. Men took the tree, chopped it down, sawed it into boards, planed, sanded, and shaped the boards, and built them into a desk. Long milleniums ago the oak tree was CREATED, but the desk was MADE. God CREATED oaktrees, and men took the tree and MADE the desk. The tree, in creation, came from the invisible mind and mighty power of God; but the desk was fashioned, shaped, and made from the already created tree.In the beginning God created man, formed him of the dust of the ground, lowering him into the realm of carnality, frustration, limitation, and futility. In pursuing his own self-hood instead of the Spirit of God, man fell even further into sin, sorrow, and depravity. If we want tangible evidence of the wreckage that sin has made in the world, we do not have to go further than our own selves to discover that when the CHRIST DOMINION is gone, there follows the unleashing of every carnal and devilish thought, attitude, and action. Man has been weakened to such a degree that instead of ruling the animal world, the ANIMAL NATURE rules in him! Sin and self choke the virtue from his soul, and Satan laughs him to scorn, while unclean spirits and every vile thing parade about upon the stage of his mind and body. Because of the weakened state of our being through sin, the terrors of life frighten us, the pressures fray our nerves, and our hearts fail. The cares of this world turn our lives into a pressure cooker and so overwhelm us until our emotions erupt in fear, anger, hostility, or depression. The nature of the natural man IS ANYTHING BUT THAT OF A PRIEST!And now comes the word - "Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood...and hast MADE US unto our God kings and priests." Ah, "things" are created, but "priests" are MADE! If you are a priest, there is something about you that is not ordinary; you have distinct and distinguishing characteristics. You are no longer part of the problem you have been so thoroughly transformed from the spirit of self and of this world until you have become in your very state of being THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. What is a priest? Who are the priests today? They are those who are indwelt by the Christ and are living in the Christ and by the Christ to manifest the Christ. It does not matter what you do or what your job is. You may be a school teacher, a businessman, a doctor, a nurse, a student, a housewife, a mechanic, or a preacher. The essential and basic thing is that Christ lives in you and that you live in Christ, experience Christ, walk in Christ, and manifest Christ in all your life. This makes you a priest.
Consider the sons of Aaron when they were brought to Moses. What did Moses do? He removed their clothes and put upon them the priestly garments. What are the priestly garments? They are the manifestation of Christ. Christ manifested upon you is the robe of the priest. What the priests eat represents Christ, what they wear represents Christ, and all their living and doing represents Christ. To be a priest you must live in Christ and serve with Christ. When you teach in school, you teach in Christ; when you do business, you do business in Christ; when you take care of your home, you do it in Christ; when you speak with your neighbor, you speak as Christ; when you touch men, you touch them with Christ; when you meet your enemy, you love with the love of Christ; whatever you handle, you will handle with Christ; whatever you do, you will do with Christ. You are in the garment of a priest. You are equipped with Christ, you are adorned with Christ. You will manifest Christ. You will minister Christ. Ah, beloved, this is the ministry of priesthood. And only God can MAKE US priests!"Make" means to ALTER THE FORM OR CHANGE THOROUGHLY. There can be no priesthood without first a thorough change. Sin, self, greed, hatred, criticism, retaliation, ego, unconcern, immaturity, pettiness, unrighteousness, all must be dealt with. Thus, we are not seeking just a salvation experience, the forgiveness of our sins, covering over the past, and hoping for the best in the future, but we desire that the Spirit of God, working mightily within, shall bring a thorough change in us, until every word, will, attitude, action, and reaction shall flow from HIS HEART unto all about us. You can be a believer and die and go to heaven without such a thorough change, but you can NEVER BE A PRIEST WITHOUT IT! You can speak in tongues, prophesy, see visions, fall out under the power, and be an apostle without such a thorough change, but you can NEVER BE A PRIEST WITHOUT IT!"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). "GOD working in you." What a marvelous expression! We know how combustion works mightily in the cylinder, forcing up and down the piston, giving power to the engine. We know how sap works mightily within the branches, forcing itself out in leaf, blossom, and bud. We know of incidents where men were so possessed of devils that they spoke and acted as the inward promptings compelled them. These express but weakly the idea of the "inward working" of God, which towers infinitely beyond. Have we not all been conscious of some of these workings? We have known them when the breath of holy resolution has swept through our natures; every sigh for the will of God; every strong and earnest desire to be like Him; every determination to leave the nets and fishingboats to follow Jesus; every appetite for spiritual things; every impulse to live and sacrifice and give for others; every aspiration to love and lift and restore the groaning creation; every prayer lifted heavenward in intercession for weak, needy, suffering and sinful humanity; every effort to bless those about us - all these are the result of His inworking and the promise of the Priestly Ministry!COMPASSIONATE PRIESTSThe wonderful book of Hebrews is literally packed full of mysteries, types, shadows, and allegories, all pointing to the ministry of God's Royal Priesthood, which are only unfolded by the Holy Spirit as we are able to bear it. Hebrews chapter five sets forth five qualifications that the High Priest must possess. All the members of the Royal Priesthood who are, with Him, "partakers of the heavenly calling," must have the qualifications, but the High Priest in particular."For 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 with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron" (Heb. 5:1-4). Here we have defined the intrinsic nature of the priestly office. The verses just quoted contain a general description of the Le vitical High Priests. Five things are here said concerning them. First, he must be"taken from among men," that is, he must partake of the nature of those on whose behalf"he acts. Second, he acted not as a private individual, but as a public official: "is ordained for men." Third, he came not empty-handed before God, but furnished with "gifts and sacrifices for sins." Fourth, for he himself was not exempt from infirmity, so that he might the more readily succour the distressed. Fifth, he did not presumptuously rush into his office of himself, but was chosen, prepared, and approved of God. Let us look at two of these more closely."For every High Priest taken from among men..." First, then, his humanity is insisted upon. Greek mythology abounds in stories of gods who walked the earth giving the impression that they were men. They looked like men. They acted like men. But when the need arose they cast off presence, put forth their powers, and revealed their divinity. They were not really men, but gods in disguise. Many Christians have thought of Jesus in this way. He was God, looking like man, but not really man. But Jesus knew Himself to be a man, as His response to the first temptation shows, "MAN shall not live by bread alone" (Mat. 4:4). He was subject to all the limitations that compass our mortal frame, He knew weariness (Jn.. 4:6), hunger (Mat. 21:18; Lk. 4:2), and thirst (Jn.. 19:28), Bodily life has its joys and its sorrows, and He knew them both. But human life includes more than bodily experiences. Our emotional lives are a very important part of our being. And, as we can see, Jesus had emotions just like all other men. He could be joyful (Jn.. 15:11), or sorrowful (Mat. 26:37). He experienced love for others (Mk.. 10:21), and compassion (Mat. 9:36). It was astonishment which marked His reaction to the faith of the centurion (Lk.. 7:9) and to the unbelief of the men of Nazareth (Mk.. 6:6). On occasion He was indignant (Mk. 10:14). And at times He could be angry and grieved (Mk. 3:5).All this is important as constituting one of Jesus' qualifications to be our High Priest. A High Priest must know and experiencially understand the limitations of those he represents. "Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; FOR THAT HE HIMSELF ALSO IS COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY" (Heb. 5:2). On three different occasions Matthew tells us that our Lord was "moved with compassion" on the multitude. Frankly, when you read the New Testament you read of Jesus doing miracles, healings, signs and wonders, but Christ never went around looking for a miracle to perform. HE WENT ABOUT DOING THE FATHER'S WILL. The Father brought Him to a place where His heart could be moved with compassion. Coming to a town He sees a funeral procession and as a Son, developing the nature of a Priest, He is filled with compassion when He sees the widow and her dead son. There was no social security in those days, and the boy was the only person to look after the widow, so He stops the procession, raises the boy, hands him over to the mother, and goes about the Father's business. I find that the basis of the ministry of Christ was not power - IT WAS COMPASSION!When He saw the multitude He was moved with compassion. They were hungry, and He said, "Let us feed them." When He met the leper He was moved with compassion and He laid His hands on him and healed him. He could have said a word to heal him by the spoken word, but that man needed the touch of somebody's hand on him, he had been separated from people so long, he needed more than to be healed from his leprosy, he needed the sense of the hand of God upon Him. When Jesus looked upon the careworn faces of the toiling, tax-ridden multitudes - taxed by cruel priests; taxed by Herod; taxed by Pilate; taxed by their own sins and sorrows; wearily burdened, wounded at heart, and heavy laden - He was moved with compassion. "Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; FORTHAT HE HIMSELF ALSO IS COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY." The condition which develops compassion in us, is that WE OURSELVES get compassed - surrounded, hedged in - by the problems, the difficulties, the needs that are going to be represented in the people to whom we minister. So many of us are intolerant in certain areas of our lives because we have not gone through the pressure, we have not been compassed by that particular infirmity or weakness or need. Priesthood demands suffering, trial, testing, tribulation, and pressure. Sonship demands relationship with God. He sends the Spirit of the Son into our hearts and we cry, "Abbe, Father!" Maturity and development in God come through chastening and all the dealings of God. Now God intends that all of us should be Sons of God, and that all of us should be a Kingdom of Priests, a Royal Priesthood unto God. But you may be a Son and still not be a Priest! Rev. 20:4-6 says, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them...they shall be PRIESTS of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Here you see that it is not the Sons who are reigning - it is the PRIESTS! What about the Sons? "He that overcometh shall INHERIT ALL THINGS; and I will be his God, and HE SHALL BE MY SON" (Rev. 21:7). The Sons inherit, for they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17). Who, then, is destined to reign? THE SONS WHO ARE PRIESTS! Christ was a Son before He was a Priest. He was not a Priest during His years in the flesh, but He was a Son. Christ as a Son, in order to fulfill His present ministry on the right hand of the Father' is not fulfilling it xi-m--ply as the Son of God, As a Son He came to die to provide redemption, but to provide the priestly ministry on the right hand of the Father "we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens." The Son had, as a Son, to go through the experience that was necessary to perfect Him for the understanding heart of the Priesthood. "We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; BUT WAS IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became...AN HIGH PRIEST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK" (Heb. 5:8-10). "Every High Priest...must be compassed with infirmity."Consider now that the Christ was tempted in all points like as we are - so that He might be a High Priest touched with the feelings of OUR INFIRMITIES. "But EVERY MAN is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust (desire), and enticed" (James 1:14). Anything, to be a temptation for us, must excite something within us that responds to the temptation. That for which we have no desire, can never tempt us. I used to think, as many do, that Jesus was so high and holy that He could not be affected by the things that affect us. He was high and holy, but not to the extent that Me could not be touched by the same infirmities, weaknesses, and feelings that touch us. He knows how the person feels who is tempted to lie, curse, steal, murder, or commit adultery. There had to be the desire in His flesh to answer the temptation, but, blessed be God ! HE OVERCAME IT ALL! He was tempted in every point as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN. He overcame all temptation and in the one instance of the desire to go His own way, He resisted even unto blood. He was the first to do this AND HE ENTERED INTO PRIESTHOOD.There is something diabolical about temptation, something satanically bewitching and bewildering. It stirs up our senses and excites our emotions and passions. For the time being the forbidden thing seems more important than anything else in the world. It weakens our powers of judgment, both moral and spiritual. People who are otherwise very intelligent will in a brief season of temptation commit wholly unthinkable follies which they often live to regret a whole lifetime afterwards. It paralyzes our will. Our many good resolutions melt like wax in the hour of temptation. All this temptation frequently does simply by being permitted to press in upon us. It is like chloroform. If it gets too close to us, it will deprive us of the very possibility of offering resistance. But, praise God, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Cor. 10:13).Ah, Jesus could have been a SON without being so totally compassed with infirmity, but HE COULD MEYER HAVE BEEN A 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 have been a merciful and faithful High Priest, having COMPASSION on the ignorant and wayward? But, thank God, our High Priestis a perfect one! He is perfectly adapted to His task."Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way." The High Priest could not be a hard-nosed business man. And he could not be a legalist, one who would take the law and hew unto the very line with it. He could not be a tyrant, enforcing his own will and desires and purposes. HE HAD TO HAVE COMPASSION ON THOSE WHO WERE IGNORANT. The word translated here "have compassion" is rendered in the margin "reasonably bear with" and means to be moderate in passion, or to moderate one's own feelings. The point stressed seems to be that of mental and emotional balance, neither coldly distant nor uncontrollably excited. One without feeling, on-the one hand, or one all torn up by the problem, on the other hand, could not minister as a Priest. He had to be moderate in passion - gentle, pitying, sympathetic, merciful, gracious, kind, helpful.That is why God told Ananias: "Go lay your hands upon Saul," for Saul needed the hand of somebody laid on him in mercy and forgiveness and grace and compassion, because his hands were red with the blood of the martyrs and he had come up to Damascus to torture and kill again. Paul came into union with God through Jesus Christ, and in union with the body of Christ through the hands which Ananias laid on him, for there was the mercy and the grace of God on a level that could reach him. That is what the Royal Priesthood is for, it is so that Christ who is in the heavens, full of compassion, can have a body here on the earth level wherein He can meet the needs of people. When God wanted to deliver Israel out of Egypt by the hand of Moses, He said, "I am come down to deliver them." Ah - GOD came down, but He came down in the ministry of Moses! To save us He came down in the person of Jesus Christ, and now the Christ is coming as King and Priest in His body of KINGS AND PRIESTS. God always moves on the level of the enableenablement of reaching people. Now that Christ is enthroned in the heavens with all the power and compassion humanity needs, He needs somebody down here on this level so that compassion and grace and mercy can reach people where they are.Who was a good Priest? Paul! Paul was a great Priest because he was a consoler, he knew how to minister comfort. "By the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (II Cor. 1:4-5). Suffering is a part of Priesthood. "And whether we be afflicted, it is FOR YOUR CONSOLATION AND SALVATION, which is effectual in the enduring of the same suffering which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is FOR YOUR CONSOLATION AND SALVATION. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and cloth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us" (II Cor. 1:6-10).In every situation Paul found himself limited, compassed about, hedged in by suffering and difficulty. For years I prayed, "Lord, anoint me, empower me, send me that I might go forth and do signs and wonders and miracles and build the Kingdom of God." But God said, "No, I will put bands upon you." It is a strange thing about God - when you want to be free He binds you. But then He said, "When I want you to go, then you car. go and do My will." All of us kick at that and want to be turned loose to perform miracles, cast out devils, do exploits, and bring in the Kingdom. But the people who are going to have the ministry in these last days are not the Sons with power, but theRIESTS, the Sons who are being compassed about with infirmity, stripped, processed, who are now learning the ways of COMPASSION.There is such a yearning within - "O God, bring me to that place where I can become a comforter to those that need comfort." Again and again we read it in Isa. 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people." And yet it seems we do not have enough to say, we don't know what to do, or how to do it. Ah, that is why He is working now in us, filling up all that we lack of THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST, that now and in the ages yet to come we might become the vessels of His grace and mercy and compassion, so that we might bring comfort and healing and restoration to those in need.There have been those precious folk who have said to me, "Brother Eby, I don't understand. Since I came into this sonship message things have gotten worse - all hell has broken loose." That is just what you need - IF YOU WOULD BE A PRIEST! Have you not known some beautiful saints to whom you naturally betake yourself in time of trial and sorrow? They always seem to speak the right word, to give the very counsel you are longing for; you do not realize, however, the cost which they had to pay ere they became so skilful in binding up gaping wounds and drying tears. But if you were to investigate their past history you would find that they have suffered more than most. They have watched the slow untwisting of some silver cord on which the lamp of life hung. They have seen the golden bowl of joy dashed to their feet, and its contents spilt. They have stood by ebbing tides, and drooping gourds, and noon sunsets; but all this has been necessary to make them comforters and healers; THE PRIESTS OF MEN.The only persons on earth who really understand our sorrow are the persons who have travelled the SAME VALLEY of despair. Only those who have been bereaved know what bereavement really is. They alone can shed the sympathizing tear and intercede in power with God, for they alone truly understand. Others may kindly and with feeling offer their condolence, but they can do little more than that, for they have not experienced the pain and loneliness of our loss. The reason our blessed Lord is TOUCHED WITH THE FEELING OF OUR INFIRMITIES is that-HE KNOWETH OUR FRAME. He remembereth that we are dust. He Himself was a "man of sorrows and ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF." He knew what it was to be despised, afflicted, and rejected of men. He knows what it is to be misunderstood, to be dragged from prison and judgment with NO MAN to declare His generation. He knows what it is to be tempted in all points as we are tempted, and, though He knew not sin and no guile was found in Him, yet the sympathizing tears flow from His eyes as He extends His nail-pierced hand to lift us from the shades of our gloomy night to the ineffable light of the plane on which He dwells.You say you have had troubles enough? Only if you have no passion to be a Priest! If you come into the office on Monday you are just as tired as the other fellow, you have the same flu, the same problems, the same limitations, you have no secret formula to save you out of them, because every Priest has to be compassed, shut up, hedged in with the same infirmities, so that he can have an understanding heart for all of humanities problems. If you are going to be a manifested Son you must first get bound because God wants His Sons to be Priests, kingly Priests who show forth both authority AND redemption. You must not only have the authority of Kingship, but also the compassion of Priesthood. Paul says in effect: "If I give all my goods to feed the poor, but I do not love the poor, I still have no power to help them," because IN GOD POWER IS BASED UPON COMPASSION AND LOVE AND MERCY. God wants to fill us with that love, and inwork that compassion, and when you love the people that you are working with, you find that when you have the compassion to love them, and want to minister to them as a Priest, you are enthroned, you have the power to do it also. There has been too much ministering based on POWER that was not based on COMPASSION. I do not mean sentimental, mushy, soulish pity, but the compassion that floods our heart and comes from God, so that we can love the unlovely.After many years of walking in divine health, blessing, and victory, why is God today lifting His hand from many precious saints and allowing sickness, pressures, and tragedies to seize upon them? Because He intends that people to BECOME PRIESTS those through whom His compassion and mercy and love and power will come to humanity. Have you not noticed that many great healing and deliverance ministries of the past were birthed into being by servants of God who themselves had been at one time in great physical need. We also see this principle exhibited in those who manifest a greatI love for the saving of lost souls in the truth that "he who is forgiven much, the same also loves much" (Lk. 7:47)Let me say now, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE PRIESTHOOD - I RECOMMEND SONSHIP! When you are a Son you have an inheritance, great wealth, blessings from the Father's hands, and freedom. "Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed." As a Son you have power to do things, but the moment you become a Priest, they put you in chains: compassed, surrounded, hedged in, pressed on every side by infirmity. Infirmity is weakness. I pray that as God deals with us in these days that we will not despise our limitations, our infirmities, and our sufferings, knowing that "He was in all points tempted, like as we are." Christ was tempted as a Son, but after that there came a temptation in testings that had nothing to do with Him, but were preparing Him for the perfection of the Priesthood. As Sons of God, with full inheritance, we should be blessed beyond measure, we should have no problems, by rights we should be in perfect health, have good jobs, money in the bank, and everything coming to us. Most Spirit-filled Christians today choose to walk only in their sonship privileges of BLESSING, HEALTH AND PROSPERITY. And they do not know it, but they SHALL NOT REIGN WITH CHRIST. Ah, it is the PRIESTS that reigns And to the Priests God says, "No, I am going to limit you here, put you through pressure there, subject you to suffering, hedge you in and compass you about with infirmity, not because you have no rights, but that it will work a compassion, an understanding, a mercy, a grace, work something in you so that out of that will flow a river of love, forgiveness, pardon, redemption, and then a flow of power, an enabling, an ability.Oh! may God's consuming fire consume all the self-pity which may be left in some of us. Some could have made better progress, but just at the time God was perfecting them in the priestly nature they began to feel sorry for themselves. Like children inI school they think they have a hard time, till they become teachers themselves and find that it is harder on the teacher. Many young people, instead of getting their schoolwork done, complain, and then they fail and wonder what is wrong. When God's consuming fire begins to work in us and the trials and pressures overtake us, if we then feel sorry for ourselves and drown in a pool of self-pity, we are disqualified. O my brother, my sister, lay hold on God's grace which will so do a work in you that when you meet some poor soul in the same place you have the answer: The grace and the mercy and the power of God is sufficient for him also! But if you do not let it work in you, it will not work through you. If God would deliver us from all our troubles we would never help anybody, never understand the other fellow's dilemma; and that is why God keeps us the way we are and plagues us and puts us under pressure, not because we are not Sons, not so we will complain, and not that we will despair or faint, but that we say, "Lord, let it work in us that divine grace and longsuffering and compassion that will then flow out to minister to others." When the suffering is completed, and we are perfected In the PRIESTLY NATURE, then we can walk in the fullness of our inheritance and His glory shall be revealed in and through us, praise His name!Let me share with you an illustration by Charles Spurgeon that I think says it so eloquently: Suppose it was one of the times when a great plague comes upon the city of London. The plague rages most furiously across the town and land, decimating the population and causing all men to board themselves up in their homes lest they be exposed to the contagion, filling the hearts of all with great fear and terror at the sight of death all about them. Suppose that in that town there dwells a man of noble lineage with his son, who is a wonderful physician. They determine to give themselves over to reclaiming the sick in this plague-ridden city. The son, who is a great physician, unbars the great front gate of their home and makes his way out into the byways and streets of London where all about him are the dead and the dying. Finding those who are still alive, he picks them up in his arms and brings them back to his father's house where gradually he exercises his marvelous skill upon them and begins to restore them to wholeness again. The father smiles benignly upon his son in whom he has such great delight who is exposing himself to dread circumstances and grievous dangers by going out into the city at a time like this. He goes out over and over again, bringing back the victims of the plague. Let us suppose that you are just such a one and he finds you lying in the street contorted with pain, experiencing the virulence of this horrid disease as it makes its way through your body. He picks you up tenderly in his arms and carries you back to the house. There he bends over you to begin his medical ministrations. Unless you have experienced that healing balm and unless your life has been restored, you will not be able to sympathetically enter into an understanding of what is being done, of this great enterprise of tremendous moment which is being accomplished, as in the house of this great man and his loving son. You allow him to touch your body and you feel the health restored to your limbs. You begin to find that life once more pulses throughout your frame and again, you know the restoration to health and soundness. But even still you will not yet be fully able to enter into that fellowship. You must come to some sort of a sympathetic understanding of what is really happening around you. You must see that there is nothing in London; there is nothing, indeed, in all of England, nor in all the world, which begins to compare in significance to this tremendous work which is going on right here in the house before your eyes. So, day by day, as you watch the work of this great father and son you become more impressed with the tremendous consequences of what is happening. You realize how this is the only hope of this city and you enter in sympathetically and understandingly to what they are doing. Yet, if you would enter into the fellowship of this great man and his son, you must go further than this! You must come to the place where you say timidly, "Sir, is it possible that such a one as I could have some small part in this great work that you are doing?" You are then given the task of carrying basins and bringing towels and having some small part in the work that is being done. You begin now to understand more fully and to have some part in the fellowship and communion that goes on between these two in this great enterprise in which they are engaged, which now has become a part of your life. Yet, still, you are not ready to fully understand and enter into that fellowship until you come to that day when you say, "Sir, I want not only to have some small I part but I see that this is the only thing in life which is really worthwhile, I want to give my whole self over to it. I yield myself body and soul. I want to go out and join your son in bringing in the ill and expose myself to the dangers and to the taunts of even those who do not understand. I am willing to give even my life for this cause." At that point, my friend, you begin to enter in and understand the deep mystery of the fellowship of the father and his son.Just suppose that one day in that great house you meet a young man who announces that he, too, is one of those who has been brought in and healed and restored and has been adopted into the family. You find out a little bit about him. You notice that he is dressed in a sporting way. He has a tennis racket under his arm and he is on his way out the door. As he comes to the drawing room near the front door, he peers in and says to the son, "How is it going with the plague today? How many was it this week?... Oh, that is splendid! I'm delighted to hear it. I'm on my way to the courts to have a game." Would such a one as this ever be able to enter into the fellowship of the father and the son? Never! Or, perhaps, you meet another man not nearly so frivolous or flippant as the first. He is dressed in a three-piece suit, his umbrella is under his arm. You find that he is on his way to the Board of Trade. "Well, you know, business has to go on even in the most difficult of times, and in times like these it is possible one can make a good profit if one keeps his eye open and his nose to the grind." He, too, stops by the drawing room, tips his hat to the father and -on and says, "Glad to hear that the work is going well. I left a check on the table in the hallway to help continue the work. How is that poor soul there doing? My, he does look bad. But I must run along now. Business first." And he is on his way. Can such a person as this ever enter into that mystery of fellowship between the father and the son? That will remain ever as alien to him as someone from another planet!Ah - there are no arm-chair Priests in the Kingdom of God! There are no country-club-elite Priests. There are no playboy Priests. There are no honorary Priests. There are no theoretical, self-appointed Priests. We view the Priests of old arrayed in their garments of glory and beauty and think how noble and prestigious their office!I But the priesthood was a dirty, sweaty, bloody business with cattle stomping about filling the air with clouds of choking desert dust, throats cut, blood splattering, carcasses butchered, the stench of burning flesh insulting the nostrils. All of us want to deliver the creation at a distance, delivering eloquent discourses in our gatherings, uttering lofty platitudes, issuing spiritual-sounding decrees in the atmosphere of the praise and worship of the saints, while our hands are still clean and there is no blood or mud or guts on our garments! Moses said, "Lord - if Thou wilt not forgive Israel's sin blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book" (Ex. 32:32). God wants Priests who are so willing to be numbered with the transgressors, so identified and touched with the feelings of people's infirmities, whose bowels of compassion are so moved, that they are willing to be one with the people they are sent to deliver.That, dear ones, is why some of you have never known what the mystery of the fellowship of the Father and the Son is. You are an alien to the greatest undertaking in the history of the universe - the healing and redemption and restoration of the whole creation! Your heart is estranged. You would rather stop the world and get off. You would rather go to heaven and play harps and flutter about with angels. You are even now busy, busy, busy about many things, but that which rests heavy upon the heart of God and of His great Son, the Great Physician and High Priest of the heavens, is foreign to you. Oh! would that God could open your eyes to what is going on in the world...to what is really important in the world...to what is really of eternal significance in the world...that you may see the great plan and work of the Father and His Son; that you might submit yourself to God to enter in and become one with those things that beat most intently in their hearts."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...for in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, PARTAKERS OF THE HEAVENLY CALLING, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; for we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:15). "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" (Ex. 19:5-6). "Thou...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).Oh, beloved, come, and as we gaze upon this glorious MINISTRY OF COMPASSION and its life-flow unto all the peoples of the earth, let us yield ourselves unto the intense processings of God that He may work His wondrous work in our lives, bringing us into such union with Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, that we BECOME in nature and power HIS ROYAL PRIESTHOOD in the earth!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.