[b]An holy priesthood[/b]
[i]by Andrew Murray[/i]
An holy priesthood;'
Or, The Ministry of Intercession.
An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
by Jesus Christ.'--I Peter ii. 5.
Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord.'--Isaiah lxi. 6.
THE Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed
me.' These are the words of Jesus in Isaiah. As the fruit of His work
all redeemed ones are priests, fellow-partakers with Him of His
anointing with the Spirit as High Priest. Like the precious ointment
upon the beard of Aaron, that went down to the skirts of his
garments.' As every son of Aaron, so every member of Jesus' body has a
right to the priesthood. But not every one exercises it: many are
still entirely ignorant of it. And yet it is the highest privilege of
a child of God, the mark of greatest nearness and likeness to Him, who
ever liveth to pray.' Do you doubt if this really be so? Think of
what constitutes priesthood. There is, first, the work of the
priesthood. This has two sides, one Godward, the other manward.
Every priest is ordained for men in things pertaining to God' (Heb. v.
1); or, as it is said by Moses (Deut. x. 8, see also xxi. 5, xxxiii.
10; Mal. ii. 6): The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to stand
before the Lord to minister unto Him, and to bless His Name.' On the
one hand, the priest had the power to draw nigh to God, to dwell with
Him in His house, and to present before Him the blood of the sacrifice
or the burning incense. This work he did not do, however, on his own
behalf, but for the sake of the people whose representative he was.
This is the other side of his work. He received from the people their
sacrifices, presented them before God, and then came out to bless in
His Name, to give the assurance of His favour and to teach them His
A priest is thus a man who does not at all live for himself. He lives
with God and for God. His work is as God's servant to care for His
house, His honour, and His worship, to make known to men His love and
His will. He lives with men and for men (Heb. v. 2). His work is to
find out their sin and need, and to bring it before God, to offer
sacrifice and incense in their name, to obtain forgiveness and blessing
for them, and then to come out and bless them in His Name. This is the
high calling of every believer. Such honour have all His saints.'
They have been redeemed with the one purpose to be in the midst of the
perishing millions around them, God's priests, who in conformity to
Jesus, the Great High Priest, are to be the ministers and stewards of
the grace of God to all around them.
And then there is the walk of the priesthood, in harmony with its
work. As God is holy, so the priest was to be especially holy. This
means not only separated from everything unclean, but holy unto God,
being set apart and given up to God for His disposal. The separation
from the world and setting apart unto God was indicated in many ways.
It was seen in the clothing: the holy garments, made after God's own
order, marked them as His (Ex. xxviii.). It was seen in the command as
to their special purity and freedom from all contact from death and
defilement (Lev. xi. 22). Much that was allowed to an ordinary
Israelite was forbidden to them. It was seen in the injunction that
the priest must have no bodily defect or blemish; bodily perfection was
to be the type of wholeness and holiness in God's service. And it was
seen in the arrangement by which the priestly tribes were to have no
inheritance with the other tribes; God was to be their inheritance.
Their life was to be one of faith: set apart unto God, they were to
live on Him as well as for Him.
All this is the emblem of what the character of the New Testament
priest is to be. Our priestly power with God depends on our personal
life and walk. We must be of them of whose walk on earth Jesus says,
They have not defiled their garments.'
In the surrender of what may appear lawful to others in our separation
from the world, we must prove that our consecration to be holy to the
Lord is whole-hearted and entire. The bodily perfection of the priest
must have its counterpart in our too being without spot or blemish;'
the man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,'
perfect and entire, wanting nothing' (Lev. xxi. 17-21; Eph. v. 27; 2
Tim. ii. 7; Jas. i. 4). And above all, we consent to give up all
inheritance on earth; to forsake all, and like Christ to have only God
as our portion: to possess as not possessing, and hold all for God
alone: it is this marks the true priest, the man who only lives for God
and his fellow-men.
And now the way to the priesthood. In Aaron God had chosen all his
sons to be priests: each of them was a priest by birth. And yet he
could not enter upon his work without a special act of ordinance--his
consecration. Every child of God is priest in light of his birth, his
blood relationship to the Great High Priest; but this is not enough:
he will exercise his power only as he accepts and realizes his
With Aaron and his sons it took place thus (Ex. xxix.): After being
washed and clothed, they were anointed with the holy oil. Sacrifices
were then offered, and with the blood the right ear, the right hand,
and the right foot were touched. And then they and their garments were
once again sprinkled with the blood and the oil together. And so it is
as the child of God enters more fully into what THE BLOOD and THE
SPIRIT of which he already is partaker, are to him, that the power of
the Holy Priesthood will work in him. The blood will take away all
sense of unworthiness; the Spirit, all sense of unfitness.
Let us notice what there was new in the application of the blood to the
priest. If ever he had as a penitent brought a sacrifice for his sin,
seeking forgiveness, the blood was sprinkled on the altar, but not on
his person. But now, for priestly consecration, there was to be closer
contact with the blood; ear and hand and foot were by a special act
brought under its power, and the whole being taken possession of and
sanctified for God. And so, when the believer, who had been content to
think chiefly of the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat as what he needs
for pardon, is led to seek full priestly access to God, he feels the
need of a fuller and more abiding experience of the power of the blood,
as really sprinkling and cleansing the heart from an evil conscience,
so that he has no more conscience of sin' (Heb. x. 2) as cleansing from
all sin. And it is as he gets to enjoy this, that the consciousness is
awakened of his wonderful right of most intimate access to God, and of
the full assurance that his intercessions are acceptable.
And as the blood gives the right, the Spirit gives the power, and fits
for believing intercession. He breathes into us the priestly
spirit--burning love for God's honour and the saving of souls. He
makes us so one with Jesus that prayer in His Name is a reality. He
strengthens us to believing, importunate prayer. The more the
Christian is truly filled with the Spirit of Christ, the more
spontaneous will be his giving himself up to the life of priestly
intercession. Beloved fellow-Christians! God needs, greatly needs,
priests who can draw near to Him, who live in His presence, and by
their intercession draw down the blessings of His grace on others. And
the world needs, greatly needs, priests who will bear the burden of the
perishing ones, and intercede on their behalf.
Are you willing to offer yourself for this holy work? You know the
surrender it demands--nothing less than the Christ-like giving up of
all, that the saving purposes of God's love may be accomplished among
men. Oh, be no longer of those who are content if they have salvation,
and just do work enough to keep themselves warm and lively. O let
nothing keep you back from giving yourselves to be wholly and only
priests--nothing else, nothing less than the priests of the Most High
God. The thought of unworthiness, of unfitness, need not keep you
back. In the Blood, the objective power of the perfect redemption
works in you: in the Spirit its full subjective personal experience
as a divine life is secured. The Blood provides an infinite worthiness
to make your prayers most acceptable: The Spirit provides a Divine
fitness, teaching you to pray just according to the will of God. Every
priest knew that when he presented a sacrifice according to the law of
the sanctuary, it was accepted: under the covering of the Blood and
Spirit you have the assurance that all the wonderful promises to prayer
in the Name of Jesus will be fulfilled in you. Abiding in union with
the Great High Priest, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be
done unto you.' You will have power to pray the effectual prayer of
the righteous man that availeth much. You will not only join in the
general prayer of the Church for the world, but be able in your own
sphere to take up your special work in prayer--as priests, to transact
it with God, to receive and know the answer, and so to bless in His
Name. Come, brother, come, and be a priest, only priest, all priest.
Seek now to walk before the Lord in the full consciousness that you
have been set apart for the holy Ministry of Intercession. This is the
true blessedness of conformity to the image of God's Son.
LORD TEACH US TO PRAY.'
O Thou my blessed High Priest, accept the consecration in which my soul
now would respond to Thy message.
I believe in the HOLY PRIESTHOOD OF THY SAINTS, and that I too am a
priest, with power to appear before the Father, and in the prayer that
avails much bring down blessing on the perishing around me.
I believe in the POWER OF THY PRECIOUS BLOOD to cleanse from all sin,
to give me perfect confidence toward God, and bring me near in the full
assurance of faith that my intercession will be heard.
I believe in the ANOINTING OF THE SPIRIT, coming down daily from Thee,
my Great High Priest, to sanctify me, to fill me with the consciousness
of my priestly calling, and with love to souls, to teach me what is
according to God's will, and how to pray the prayer of faith.
I believe that, as Thou my Lord Jesus art Thyself in all things my
life, so Thou, too, art THE SURETY FOR MY PRAYER-LIFE, and wilt Thyself
draw me up into the fellowship of Thy wondrous work of intercession.
In this faith I yield myself this day to my God, as one of His anointed
priests, to stand before His face to intercede in behalf of sinners,
and to come out and bless in His Name.
Holy Lord Jesus! accept and seal my consecration. Yea, Lord, do Thou
lay Thy hands on me, and Thyself consecrate me to this Thy holy work.
And let me walk among men with the consciousness and the character of a
priest of the Most High God.
Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins IN HIS OWN BLOOD,
AND HATH MADE US kings and priests unto God and His Father; TO HIM be
glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon