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The Priesthood of Believers: God’s Choice

Tension was running high. The air was thick with anticipation. On the one hand, 250 men, censers in hand, burning incense, ready to prove their worthiness to serve the Lord. On the other hand, a lone elderly gentleman; Aaron, the High Priest of Jehovah. They stood before the Tabernacle, awaiting the judgment of God.

In Old Testament times God had very specific instructions as to who should serve Him, when, where, and how. In order to be a servant of God in the temple, one had to be born to it. Only male members of the tribe of Levi had the privilege of carrying out the Lord’s work in His house. Even more specifically, a priest had to be of Aaron’s bloodline. Korah, a Levite, incited rebellion against Moses and Aaron, accusing the brothers of taking too much authority upon themselves. “All the congregation is holy, every one of them,” asserted Korah, “Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Numbers 16:3). Thus the stage was set. Korah’s 250 men, men of renown, versus Aaron, the Lord’s appointed one.

In New Testament times the Lord Jesus still provides us with called servants. These servants, though, are not born to their service.  Rather, the Lord Himself calls the men for the pastoral ministry, and the women and men for the teaching ministry. “And He Himself  [Jesus] gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). However, this is not the only area in which the ministry of Christ is to be carried out. In fact, it is the duty of the called servants to be about “the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). It is the calling of Christian pastors and teachers to prepare the people of God in their care for their own ministries. We, the individuals of the church—men, women, and children—are to be “Christs” to our fellow men. We are to be servants of the most High God, showing Christ’s light and love to others. Calling men to repentance and granting forgiveness in Jesus’ name should be our daily bread.

Lest we feel unfit or unqualified for such a task, we do well to heed Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, “you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work(II Timothy 3:15-17). God does not send us out to do a work for which He has not prepared us!

Peter asked his readers to think of themselves as “living stones,” able to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ. He concludes the section with, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
(I Peter 2:9).

We have been chosen for the ministry of our God just as surely as Aaron and his sons were born into the priesthood long ago. Just as Korah and his rebellious crew would have done well to honor the God-ordained order of the priesthood of their day, so let us take seriously the Christ-given directive to preach the Gospel to all nations and encourage one another in our personal ministries—doing all to His Glory!

David W. Bernthal is the principal of Luther Memorial School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.