Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Royal Priesthood

*Picture above is a replica of the High Priest's Ephod and Breast Plate.

Today I am going to continue with the theme of prayer. Yesterday, I spoke of the need to live lives of prayer. Today, I will start to focus on different types of prayer.

I am a parent. What that means is that I spend a lot of time praying for my kids. This is what is called intercessory prayer, or praying for the needs of someone other than you. I have on a couple different occasions had to pray for the health of my kids. Two of my three kids have asthma problems. Both have been hospitalized for it. It’s a frightening thing to see you child struggling for a breath, and being put in the back of an ambulance. It’s hard to see them lying in a hospital bed. It drove me to prayer. This is the type of prayer I am talking about today.

As I was reading from Exodus 28 this morning, I came to a passage that deals with the clothing and accessories (if I can call them that) that the High Priest was to wear while doing his job. Part of the outfit included shoulder pieces, upon which two onyx stones were to be placed. Engraved into the stones were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, six to a stone, as it says in verse twelve:

"You shall put the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for a memorial.”

Next, he was to wear what is called the “Breastplate of Judgment”. It was a special piece worn on his chest, in which twelve precious stones were fitted, four rows of three stones each, laid out in a square pattern. All sides were equal. What that means to me is that God sees his people as being equal. No one person is greater than another. Or, as we like to put in New Testament times, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. The stones making up the breastplate were “according to the twelve tribes of Israel”. In other words, there was one stone for each tribe. Really, what the passage is describing are the clothing worn by the High Priest when he was performing the duties of his office, that of a “go-between”, or a mediator between man and God. Really, in the presence of God, he was literally bearing up his fellow Israelites before God, on his shoulders, and on his chest.

You see, part of the job of the priesthood was to be an intercessor for the rest of Israel. In the era of the Church, in these New Testament times, we who are followers of Christ have now been called by the Lord himself a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9). Simply as Christians, we have been declared by God to be priests, or those who are “go-betweens” and advocates for our fellow believers, as well as those who don’t yet know the Lord. We pray for them, we bear them up before God, asking that he touch those that we pray for. The Apostle Paul uses language that describes a priestly duty:

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” Romans 15:1

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

It is our duty to come alongside our brothers and sisters, and help strengthen them in times of weakness. Literally, to “bear their burden” means to come alongside them and uphold them, to support them. We must come to their aid in prayer, interceding for them to God himself. A word of caution however, is to be mindful that if a brother or sister is weak, or has fallen, does not mean they aren’t as good as us who haven’t fallen. Remember the breast plate, it was a square, all sides being equal. That’s why the Bible says in the Galatians passage quoted above to consider ourselves as we are praying for a fallen brother, and working to see restoration, lest we also be tempted and fall. We were all condemned to hell before Christ saved us, and we all can fall just as easily.

There are times I have sensed in my spirit that God was telling me to stop whatever I was doing and pray for someone in particular. It’s important with being an intercessor to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit of God, as at times he will lead you to pray for certain people and circumstances.

Of course, we need to remember that we have the greatest intercessor of all on our side. The Bible tells us that Jesus “ever lives to make intercession” for us. (Heb. 7:25) The Bible tells us that Jesus is the one Mediator now between God and man. (1 Tim. 2:5) He is on our side. He is going to bat for us at the Father’s Throne. That isn’t something that Jesus is only doing this side of Calvary, but even as he walked this earth, he prayed for his disciples, and even all who would come after. (see John 17) He interceded for Peter: “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not”. (see Luke 22:31-32) You see, Jesus is our prime example of a prayer warrior.

So, let’s follow Christ’s example. Begin to pray for those around you. Watch God begin to move in their lives. And while you’re at, friends, pray for me! God bless, and I am praying for you!


Darrell said...

Your theme of prayer has hit home with me deeply. God has been impressing on me more and more that it is time to renew the "House of Prayer." I said Sunday in my sermon that our prayers are usually too selfish. We pray for our needs (which we should) and our family, ours, ours, ours. We should be praying, "Lord, save souls. Give us souls. Help me reach someone for you." As we begin to pray for souls and reach others, it will always come back home and someone will reach our family. The problem is, we want to tell God who to save and when. We need to simply make ourselves available to Him, whenever and however HE chooses to use us.

michigan preacher said...

That's the truth. We do get too selfish, and the scripture that comes to mind is Phil. 2:4-8, which speaks of Christ looking to the needs of us humans, rather than his own comfort and glory. While it's good and right to pray for ourselves, still, we need to look beyond ourselves to see the needs of everyone else.

I'm glad that this is resonating with you. God bless, friend!

Deborha's Palm Tree said...

Thank you for the posting on prayer. Prayer and intercession are foremost in my heart. I have been leading a team of intercessors for almost 10 years now. We pray for the pastors of Galesburg and within a 50 mile radius of that city. The Lord recently opened a door for the team to minister at a Pastor's conference and then a conference on prayer and intercession. Pastor Darrell...God is about to move in our city like has never been seen before. He has shown us this..He is not a God that lies. He has brought you and your family to G-burg for a reason..and you have the prayers of many intercessors going up on your behalf. We love our Pastors and their families! Take care...
In, through and to HIM...