Showing posts with label Priesthood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Priesthood. Show all posts

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Mining the Minors: Zechariah (6)

Zechariah is the penultimate Minor Prophet and the penultimate book of the Old Testament in the order we have it in English, as well as historically. He is also the penultimate prophet in the Hebrew Old Testament, though not the next-to-last book, which is Chronicles.

Given his proximity to the New Testament, we should not be surprised to find Christ so prominent in Zechariah, as we have mentioned. Zechariah’s vision in chapter 3 portrays Messiah in at least four different aspects: (1) as priest, (2) as the angel of the Lord, (3) as the Branch, and (4) as the stone with seven eyes.

Let’s dive in.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Price of Proximity

God is holy.

Not a new thought, I know, but one that, in the opinion of the Holy Spirit, merits mention three times in the nine verses of Psalm 99: “Holy is he! Holy is he! The Lord our God is holy!”

Amen. In fact, he’s so holy that in the Old Testament, those closest to God tended to pay a price for their proximity.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Mining the Minors: Zephaniah (2)

In studying the Minor Prophets we run into one difficult question repeatedly. The answer to it significantly affects our understanding of the intended scope of a particular prophecy. Wherever we come across Hebrew words that describe geography ['ăḏāmâ, 'ereṣ or ], there is considerable ambiguity about what they are intended to denote. Scholars tell us both 'ăḏāmâ and 'ereṣ may legitimately be translated as either “earth” or “land”. Further, the word may refer to an actual island, or to a larger region far away that is approached (naturally) from the coast. Where “land” is the better translation, the intent is usually (but not universally) to refer to the land of Israel.

So then, a prophet may be predicting something that will affect the entire planet or something that will affect only Israel. Global or local, and context is the only way to determine which is which. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough information in the context to know with certainty.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

The Priests Go First

When Malachi condemns the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness, he starts with the priests.

Hmm. That may seem a little unfair. After all, the priests in Israel had limited control over the minds and hearts of the people. When Israelites chose to bring blind, lame and sick animals to offer their God, it could hardly be said to be the priesthood’s fault.

Could it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

When Is a Priest Not a Priest?

“... and David’s sons were priests.”

Hmm. That would seem to require an explanation, no?

God had chosen the tribe of Levi to serve him as a priestly caste. Even then, not all Levites qualified to serve as priests. Service at the altar was limited to the sons of Aaron, Moses’ brother, who were ordained in an elaborate ceremony and served in that capacity thereafter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Levitical Interlude #1: Nadab and Abihu

The first historical interlude in the book of Leviticus is the longest of the three and culminates in the judgment-by-incineration of Nadab and Abihu, the elder two sons of Aaron, high priest of Israel.

This is neither the first nor the last time in scripture that God has introduced something new to human society only to have mankind promptly make a shambles of it.

Making a Shambles of It

We do not know the time interval between creation and the Fall, but it is not unreasonable to assume it was a comparatively short period. Man’s first mistake occurred at the first possible opportunity. The first murder occurred in the very first generation after the establishment of the new order brought on by Adam’s transgression. And when God rebooted the world with a global flood, Noah promptly got drunk and ended up cursing his own grandson.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Mining the Minors: Hosea (13)

Years ago, the wife of a friend from my college days came home with a rather unusual proposal concerning their marriage. She worked as a nurse in a cancer ward, and had fallen in love with a patient diagnosed as terminal. Her plan was to bring this fellow home and move him in upstairs so she could care for him, while her husband took his things and moved downstairs to live in the basement.

Needless to say, my friend did not think much of that idea.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Your Church Building is NOT the House of God

I’m hearing it all the time now in public prayer: “We thank you, Father that we are able to freely gather in the house of God” and other similar thoughts, where the words “house of God” are unquestionably being used to describe the building in which we are sitting.

A similar misconception is given voice by people who insist upon referring to the auditorium in which a church meets as a “sanctuary”, as in (from mother to child), “Don’t run in the sanctuary! Don’t make noise in the sanctuary!”

These are not new Christians. It makes me wonder if they really know what the house of God is or what the term sanctuary means. I think in many cases they do, but have through inattention lapsed into language that is potentially misleading.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Commentariat Speaks (13)

Many moons ago I wrote a post about the evolving definition of the word “religion”. When I was a teen it was common to hear that “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” By the strictest definition of the day this was probably true, and it was a distinction worth making.

Today, however, the popular usage of “religion” (and the dictionary definition with it) has broadened sufficiently that this is no longer the case, and anyone who insists upon repeating that old saw is not just pedantic but factually incorrect.

The point that among religions Christianity is uniquely relationship-based remains worth making, but the stark contrast between religion and not-religion no longer exists. You can have your religion more or less relationship-free if that’s your thing.

Not that it’s likely to do you much good.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Commentariat Speaks (12)

Gary McBride, a northern Ontario Bible teacher and author, posts a thought on the subject of corporate testimony:

“… in 1 Peter 2 we are a ‘royal priesthood’ bearing witness. Priesthood is a collective noun and is only demonstrated when believers gather.”

Having enjoyed Gary’s useful commentary on 1 Thessalonians, I know he chooses his words carefully, so I will try to do likewise.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Price of Proximity

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Too Far Gone

Does your church need an ... er ... equalizer?
“You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
— Korah’s Rebellion, Numbers 16

Christian women are priests just as Christian men are priests; therefore Christian women should be able to do everything in the churches that Christian men have traditionally done.

So goes the modern argument, and it’s dead wrong.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Priests and Priesthood

If all believers are really priests, why is it that some churches still don’t allow women to exercise the priestly role of teaching the Bible publicly?

Martin Luther famously referred to a general priesthood in his 1520 tract To the Christian Nobility of the German NationLuther did not actually coin the phrase “priesthood of all believers”, and the idea itself obviously did not originate with Luther but rather with the writers of the New Testament. Still, the fact remains that the doctrine we know by that name has been a significant feature of Protestantism for almost 500 years.

This being the case, you’d figure any questions about the status of women in a universal priesthood must have been asked and answered hundreds of times.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Excuse Me, May I Borrow Your Spear?

How many ways can activism and advocacy go wrong? Let’s see ...

As I’ve pointed out in this space already, this crazy election cycle finds Christian opinion all over the map in ways I’ve rarely seen before. For every Wayne Grudem explaining why you should vote Trump, there’s a Thabiti Anyabwile or a Rachel Held Evans pointing out reasons why another Clinton presidency may be preferable (not to mention there’s at least one Douglas Wilson holding his nose and calling for a principled boycott).

Everyone has an opinion, and most of us have reasons for it, however arbitrary and weird they may seem to others. Good. God would like that. “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” The effort to vote intelligently and consistently with one’s conscience is a noble one.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Calling an Audible

Some call it the Lord’s Supper or the Lord’s Table. Some refer to it as Communion, Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Some call it the Breaking of Bread. Some call it the Worship Service. And some would argue that not all these terms refer to precisely the same thing.

I agree, actually, but it’s not my purpose to set out all such similarities and differences in a single blog post. My point is that, different as they may be, all these overlapping practices (rightly or wrongly) draw their scriptural authority from the words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples at their last Passover supper and the things he did there.

Let’s concede this: whatever we call it, none of us celebrate it precisely the way it was celebrated in the early church, and it’s quite possible that even in the first century there was little consistency from one local church to another in the way it was practiced.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Priests Are In The Pews

The concept of priesthood did not originate with the Bible. That may be where most of us first encounter priests, but priesthood has existed in many other cultures throughout history.

Canaanite culture, for instance.

Abram met Melchizedek, king of Salem (later called Jerusalem). Melchizedek was not only a priest; he was also likely a citizen of one of the nations that several hundred years later God would instruct Israel to exterminate from the face of the earth. That’s unless Chazalic literature is correct in asserting that Melchizedek was actually a nickname for Shem, son of Noah, who we know outlived Abram. We have no scriptural evidence Shem was Melchizedek, but his exceptional age would certainly explain the respect Abram extended to the “first priest”.

And this is the very first reference to a priest in scripture.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Priests Go First

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Your Church Building is NOT the House of God

The most recent version of this post is available here.