This teaching follows on from “the cygnet and the eggshell.” You also may want to read 2 Chron 35 vs 1-19.
If the command has gone out for us, the priests of God, to “stand in our places” ready to minister at the altar, what does this mean for us? We serve the Lord, and we serve those who are in the Temple. Here are a couple of thoughts on the second of those two: our ministry to others.
Remain in peace
2 Peter 3:14 exhorts us to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace,” and in 1 Pe 3:11 the apostle quotes Psalm 34:14 – “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.” Impetuous Peter was probably one of the last of the 12 that we associate with a peaceful demeanour, but in his position as one of the leaders of the new church of His Lord he is emphatic about the need to minister out of a place of peace. When we stand at the altar of Calvary and look on the perfect sacrifice that tore open the veil of separation between God and man, when we hear the words “it is finished,” we can be assured of His presence and His power touching whatever we do. That place of peace is the place of faith. The children of Israel did not enter the “rest of God” because of their unbelief (Heb 3:19). If our souls are not at rest we too are in unbelief, and since “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23), anything we do or say when we are away from the peace of God is likely to be corrupted by sin. Isaiah 26: 3 says “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” The way to peace is to keep our minds centred on Jesus; to stay in touch with the altar. If we move away from the altar we lose our peace; if we have lost our peace it’s because we have moved away from the altar.
Remain in the Spirit
For most of us this doesn’t mean we cut ourselves off from the people that God has put us with to spend all our time in prayer, worship, and studying the Bible, although there can be seasons when this is exactly what we do, and for some it is the calling on their lives. But whatever our commitments and our calling, we are citizens of Heaven, and our spirits are seated with Christ in Heavenly places. To stay in the Spirit is to remember who we are and where we are from, and to be aware that whatever we are doing, whoever we are with, that is the reality of our condition. Like Jacob’s ladder, our spirits connect Heaven and Earth. If we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we need to remember that this can happen through us at any time, in any situation. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) means to keep Jesus on the line – like a permanent phone call – all the time. We won’t be speaking to Him all the time, and nor will He be speaking to us all the time, but He is there, on the line. And if we know He is there, it means we can expect the supernatural to break into our lives and the lives of the people around us at any moment.
“Then Josiah gave the lay people lambs and young goats from the flock, all for Passover offerings for all who were present, to the number of thirty thousand, as well as three thousand cattle; these were from the king’s possessions. And his leaders gave willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave to the priests for the Passover offerings two thousand six hundred from the flock, and three hundred cattle.” (2 Chron 35:7-8)
When Josiah instituted his great Passover after he had restored Temple worship in Jerusalem, people flocked to the feast from all over Judah and from the remnant of Israel who had remained after the exile of the Northern Kingdom. The people came to the Temple, but they came empty-handed. Following the lead of the King himself, the leaders provided generously and willingly for those who had nothing, so that all could join in the feast. In the Passover that is to come, when the only safe place in the world is under the blood of the Lamb, many will flock, empty-handed, into the church. We serve at the altar of Jehovah Jireh, and our King has already set us His example of giving as well as giving us some very clear principals in His teachings. When we give to meet the needs of others, the Lord will provide or us.
I’ve already mentioned the need to “keep Jesus on the line” as an understanding of how we can “pray without ceasing.” The more we can do this, the more our daily life merges with our prayer life. But in this context, let us remember to keep interceding for the needs of others. The most important thing to remember is that prayer in the flesh is as unproductive as anything else we do in the flesh. We are told to ”pray in the Spirit,” and we are told that the Holy Spirit help us to pray because we don’t know how to pray ourselves. If we pray as God leads, we are engaging with Him in what He is doing. If we pray where our emotions – or someone else’s emotions – lead, we can expect to be disappointed. James 5:15 tells us that “The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (ASV) We also know that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom 10:17) So before we pray, we need to be hearing from God, by the Holy Spirit, who to pray for and how to pray. There is a chasm of difference between human sympathy and God’s compassion, and it’s His compassion that brings Heaven to Earth, not our sympathy. We need to know from Jesus what, and who, is on His heart for us to pray for. But If we have Him on the line, He will prompt us.
“Then afterward they prepared portions for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the sons of Aaron, were busy in offering burnt offerings and fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared portions for themselves and for the priests, the sons of Aaron… There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (2 Chron 35: 14, 18)
We need to get ready, because we are going to be busy.