Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Am a Priest

I routinely read 1 Samuel, which is Hannah’s travail and victory. Most times I read this Chapter, I felt like throwing in the towel so I would draw strength from that lady and am rest assured God’s at work.
Last week I read my favorite Chapter again and this time I received a revelation that spun my head. Hannah had been without child because God had shut her womb, and her adversary, rival and foe (Penninah) took it upon herself to mock and scorn her to the point of deep anguish, loss of appetite and perhaps sleeplessness. This occurred every year and I am so sure Hannah had it up to her neck, so she GOT UP! I feel she heaved a sigh and said; “Enough is enough”…
Hannah wouldn’t listen to her husband Elkanah who assumed she should be satisfied with having him but she remembered the word said; There shall be no barren in the land…none shall cast her young and probably she heard David say; “children are a heritage from the Lord… knowing that she owns a womb and deserves to have her quiver full of them, she went up to Shiloh.
Traditionally, Shiloh was a place people went up to worship the Lord yearly and to offer their burnt offerings, peace offering and then have the Priest atone for their sins. Hannah and her family religiously went to Shiloh yearly to seek and worship the Lord. So she went before the Lord with her grief and complaint and she had God hear her.

The revelation I received: It may not be new to my readers what I gained from this chapter but like any word tossed to the wind in today’s church, I had to extract and ruminate on it before writing. As Hannah went into the temple, she passed Eli the Priest at his customary seat at the entrance of the temple. Very interesting! At a time when the Priest was supposed to be on duty and Priest in that time were the channel to God, but this woman in dire need shoves him aside to meet with her God- one on one. The Bible says Eli was sitting at the entrance to the temple, his normal everyday position. But Hannah did not approach him with her request, she went straight to God.
For the first time in many years of reading this chapter, I was awestruck that Hannah who may not have been the first in the scripture to approach God herself without meeting with the Priest actually broke tradition. And my mind raced to Hebrews four from verse fourteen where boldly I claim my priesthood “in the line of Melchizedek”.

I grew up to hear/ see Priest especially in the Orthodox setting and I was taught to revere, report confess and counsel with the Priest- when faced with challenges. But as I studied Hebrews four, I took away a vital point for every man’s faith. We have a throne and that throne people like Hannah in old times approached. That throne I have know is for every man and not only the “earthly priest”. As a matter of fact, every man or woman in Christ is a Priest. The book of Revelation 1:6 says, “He has made us his kingdom and his PRIESTS who SERVE before God his Father … (NLT)” So the office of the priest is not for a privileged few, because Jesus by dying on the cross, the thick veil that hung in the temple was torn apart (Luke 24:45). He gave every believer to come to him, approach Him one on one, no longer through a man?
But today, there exist an invisible wall that demarcates some as priest and others as laity/followers. It occurred to me that so many believers in Christ have not assumed their place as sons, as priests, hence people frantically run to a “priests, pastor, overseer of a “church” for prayers .please don’t get me wrong, the Bible even says is anyone sick, let him go to the elders of the church…and we are to confess our sins, bear one another’s burden in the church).The Bible acknowledges the office of the Bishop as an overseer, leaders and elders But my point still remains that before the king of glory we have equal rights and His heartbeat is that all men grow into their place in Him.
Yes, God is still in the business of calling and choosing men for his mission. He gives gifts to all men and it is in His authority we operate. Our High Priest has seized to be the man with the white collar, but Jesus who was without sin yet knew the feelings of our infirmity (weakness). Jesus is our High Priest- Hebrews 4.
I am a priest because I have been called and chosen for the harvest. I did not choose myself but Jesus did. Some men choose to be addressed as priest as a “church duty” which may not be bad but I can so boldly say that God chooses, and He doesn’t give it to a select few or the pious, He gives to all men who come to Him. Hebrews 4 says; “and no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He has to be called by God for this work. Even Christ did not exalt Himself to become a High priest, he was chosen by God. I reiterate, we all in Christ have been called and chosen…
Jesus henceforth has always been our Highest Priest, whether men like it or not he will remain. So let us boldly run to Him, cry to Him as we would do to a man. Hannah did not run to Eli which may have been the best option, since they represented God, she knew her right and went to Him. We have long been ushered into the Holy place. It could be right to ask a man to pray for you, it could be good to share your heavy burdens with a man of God but most times, God wants us to come to Him and tell Him as it affects us- without holding back anything.
Let’s look at Eli. He was the Priest at the temple and was to serve before the Lord. As it was custom for the Priest at that time, he was to burn incense in the Lord’s presence and to pray for and bless the people. I realize Eli did not recognize the woman neither was he sensitive to her deep pain. Eli was so insensitive to know that Hannah was groaning in prayer. He was beginning to lose his priestly role that is why he could identify Hannah praying in the spirit. Hannah was praying in the most unconventional way which Eli may not have been accustomed to – she groaned, her lips moved while she prayed in her heart. So before one runs around seeking an ephod to consult- a priests, pastors and spiritual heads, beware of Elis! Some have become too busy to hear , too insensitive to God’s voice, some are too accustomed to religious rites and are “Ichabods” operating on the past anointing and no new revelations for the people (like Eli and his sons). The glory had long departed.
A sensitive flock must arise like Hannah and learn to approach God alone, no man needs to help. Personally, I have run around people to pray for me until God taught me that he has been waiting for me to come to Him myself. He wants me to know He can handle whatever the problems are, he has taught me to know I have power and I have authority in his name to speak to things, demons and principalities. He has taught me that though it is good to agree in prayer with two or three people, he wants me to become my spiritual head, prophet and priest- that’s my rightful place. And I can say to my readers, don’t wait for a “man of God” to come open the heavens for you, the Heavens have been opened. What that man spends time doing in the presence of God, you can also do and receive from god what the man of God receives. Let us hear God for ourselves. Let us grow from being spiritual babes eating on the same meal we ate at repentance. Mathew 28:18 says we have an authority given to us by God to ask anything and do whatever…in His name. I am a spiritual man because God speaks and I hear, as he speaks, I judge…. Jesus said in John 14:21; “And I will reveal myself to each one of them”, he said in verse 12; “anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works… you can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, because the work of the son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it.” God wants us all to operate at a higher realm. Some of us are called to the 5-fold not as “full time” like we say but as men who do the will of the master wherever we find ourselves. I believe every believer is a full time able minister of the gospel called to do exploit for God like Paul and Peter were . We are called to work together in the Body of Christ and called to do the work of the master. Not to idolize any man or make man a god.
The harvest is too ripe but laborers are few because men and women of God have left power at the feet of a few. The gifting and calling of God are for all in Christ. Let us wake from our slumber and do the will of the Father. He has no favorites; he wants all to come to Him boldly and approach his throne to obtain whatever we desire in Him. He wants to reveal deep things, he wants to come up higher, and he wants to give power and authority to all that come to Him. Jesus has not found enough men and women who profess his name to release such anointing to that are why he says the laborers are few. I want to be a part of the laborers and I want all men and women in Him to come to spiritual responsibility –a people who will claim and stand on their spiritual rights in Christ. No longer babes tossed about by every wind of doctrine and religious jargon.
Men and Brethren arise and take your place, say unto the City of Judah- you dwell- behold your God (Is.40:9-11).Arise and do what God called you to do, arise and let not a few do the will of the Father, arise and stop cowering in fear, speak up and operate as the prophet, teacher, pastor, helper, etc called you to be. Stop idolizing the few who have worked hard to become great men of God; you too can become one (you don’t need to own a church building or a lectern). Let your office, marketplace and business become your pulpit- to speak for Christ. Arise and claim your priesthood. Arise and share fellowship with people, bear burdens, let men feel free to share their burden with you. Let them find confidence to talk to you because they know you have Christ.
Say to yourself I am a Priest!