Monday, March 3, 2014

The Priestly Garments - Priest vs. Warrior, Part 2

There are times when I start out with an idea in mind and the Holy Spirit completely takes over.  This post is one of those times.

There is a lot to this idea of the priestly garments, which maybe why we spend more time teaching the Armor of God.  It seems a simpler life to be a solider.  Priests have to keep a lot in mind, warriors just have to fight.  The bottom line is, though, as followers of Jesus, we are both.  (You can read the post about the Armor of God here.)

Still, we get to talk about some gorgeous clothes.

Long ago, I heard someone present the idea that salvation in Christ is getting a new set of designer duds to replace the old, trashy ones of our sinful self; but spending time with Him in His Word, you get all the jewels.  It's like the Holywood stars putting on the haute couture dresses for big events: the ensemble isn't complete until you put on the bling.

When you read about the priestly garments in Exodus 28, there is a TON of "bling," as well as a multitude of detail and extensive symbolism.  This graphic gives a taste of what was involved.  It is significant to mention, though, that this is the dress of the High Priest.  We aren't talking about how someone in ancient times dressed to go to the local market.  This outfit was assigned by the Lord Himself.  The Israelites didn't make this up, these articles of clothing are ordained and anointed.

It's an important analogy for us, to understand we wear the same priestly garments as believers in Christ.  The Apostle Peter calls it out in his first letter, now famous,

But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.(1 Pet 2:9, TLB)

You see, Peter wasn't talking about any old Levite.  He's discussing the top echelon the priesthood.  We are called to serve THE KING, meant to serve only the best and must act - and dress - accordingly.

There are probably days when you don't/won't feel like living to that standard.  Perhaps there are days you get busy and completely forget this lofty identity.  Whether or not you are conscious of it, this dress still belongs to you.  Just as with the Armor of God, you never really take them off.  Only in the Spirit realm can you wear priceless gems, a tiara AND carry a sword. I know that has to get somebody excited!

And let me say this: you don't have to worry about being worth them.  It's not up to you because your worth is determined by Jesus' work on the Cross - not how you think or act moment to moment.  That's important in Peter's verse because the High Priest had to be holy.  He had to be free of sin, any blemish when he went in to serve God.  Otherwise, the Lord would dispense with him quickly. (See Leviticus 10 or 2 Chronicles 26.)

Jesus took care of that for us - praise His name!  We are worthy to enter in.  King Solomon prophetically called that out during his prayer of Temple dedication in 2 Chronicles 6:41,

May your priests, LORD God, be clothed with salvation.

We know Solomon was no slouch. We wear the salvation of Christ.  Because Jesus was sinless, because of that unchangeable truth, in God's eyes we are too.  We can enter into God's Presence at any time.  We aren't like the High Priests that went in only one day a year.  We can come to God any day, any time.  Our past is wiped clean, our slate fresh.  Only the future awaits us!

Which leads me to mention purity.

We are fresh and we need to stay that way.  We have to make an active effort to stand for and in righteousness, meaning walking in the way God commands: truth & love.  We must love Him, ourselves and others and live by His words of truth in the Bible.  We have to keep close accounts with God.  We can't have/don't want anything, known or unknown, blocking the flow of His Spirit into or out of us. 

It's true to say this is a process, called sanctification.  It is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, when we stay with Christ (see John 15).  Even though we aren't perfect, He still uses us and that is a cause for joy!  We stay pure in God's eyes, not by our own effort, but as a devoted servant to others and humble student of His word.

Hallelujah!

This decoration, this adornment - is a miraculous gift of God.  We stay useful to Him by responding to what He has done for us.  Warriors fight the battle and there is a time for that, every day.  There is also a time every day to be a priest.  As a priest.....you are meant to serve the Lord, first.  To be present, in His presence - not just going through the motions but really there with Jesus.

When the High Priest walked through the veil that kept the Holy of Holies separate from the rest of the Temple, the congregation, the nation, the family, the everything-else, fell away and all that remained was the man in the Presence of the One..  Yes, he interceded for the people.  Yes, he prayed.  That still happens when you get in with God.  I've found, though, I might have an agenda, but He quickly makes it about Him.

This is where I'm hijacked.  I have to end this post with self-reflection.  Imagining myself in these brilliant, highly-favored clothes beyond price gives me a lot of pause about how I should approach the rest of my day (and life in general).

The gifts the Lord gives demand I stop my rushing around and pay Him mind. When was the last time I've done that?

When was the last time I came agenda-less to His feet?

When was the last time I paid attention to my worth and purity in Christ, rather than my own striving to "get it right"?

When was the last time I thanked for how easy He made it to be washed clean again?

Next time, we will discuss the commonality of our dual roles as Warriors and Priests: consecration.

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