Carrying Others to the Cross
“11 Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings 12 and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD.” Exodus 28:11-12 NIV
“41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.” Exodus 28:41 NIV
Through Exodus 28-30, Aaron is preparing to minister to the Lord and for other believers. In the Old Testament, only the priests were qualified to make the sacrifices required for those who approach God. The role of the priesthood in the Old Testament is to present sacrifices to God on behalf of the people, to seek God’s guidance for leadership and direction of the nation, and to instruct people in the law of God. The priests carried the role of mediators between God and Israel and as such, were the channel through with God spoke to His people.
While this may sound interesting, is there relevance for today? The Apostle Peter answers that in 1 Peter 2:9. He says the following:
“9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV (emphasis mine)
In other words, Peter says that the follower of Christ now carries the role of the priesthood upon his shoulders. What does Exodus teach me about the role of the believer as the “royal priesthood,” that Peter calls us to be?
Before I can minister to others, I must be ministered to by God Himself. A critical part of the role of the priesthood was to minister to God first. The priest was not to simply share funny stories, clever anecdotes, or inspiring stories to entertain people. He desperately and critically needed to spend time with God, and be in the presence of the Holy One, before he could proclaim God’s truth to God’s people.
It is easy to fall into the trap today of trying to be a clever communicator rather than a person who spends quite time with God. Exodus teaches me that there can be NO SUBSTITUTION to being with God. If the priest did not spend time with God, he had nothing to say for God. This passage shows me that as a believer I must always minister to the Lord first, but as the chapter continues, Aaron teaches me that when I go before God, but I must go before God on behalf of others.
A true follower of Christ needs to connect with God, but he must also be connected to other people. Aaron was equipped to “fasten them on the shoulder pieces… as memorial stones for the sons of Israel.” When he went before God, the priest was also to “bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart.”
When I go before God in prayer, I must be carrying others with me. The priest was a representative of God’s people to All-Mighty God. The priest was not there only on his own behalf. He needed to take the burdens of his people before God. He needed to seek guidance for his people. The priest needed to beg God for a Word from God for his people.
Today, there are many in the priesthood (or those who follow Christ) who have it all backwards. Instead of doing the labor to carry others to the cross of Christ, we settle for what it easiest. It is easy to go to God only with my prayer requests and my needs. It is easy to seek God in my self centered prayers for my needs, my job, my finances, my family, my blessings, and my future.
A true follower of Christ, one who is operating in the role of the priesthood, is not one who only goes to God on his own behalf, but also on behalf of others. A true follower of God is NOT one who only gives His best to growing in his love for God.
A true follower of God MUST be growing in his love for others as well as his love for God. When I go before God, He wants to use me to speak to others. While there are a lot of intricate details as to what stones represented what tribe, what is clear from the Old Testament is that God used the priest to communicate to His people. In the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through the priesthood.
Today, God chooses to use Christ followers, to speak His will and His love to others. He could use any avenue He chooses, but He chose me. He doesn’t speak through a loud booming voice from Heaven (although He could). He doesn’t speak through a pillar of fire or a cloud of smoke like He did in the wilderness. He has chosen to speak through the obedient Christ follower who takes the time to hear what He has to say.
Unfortunately, many of God’s people are not hearing God’s messages, because Christ followers, who are the priesthood of today are not hearing what we need to hear from God and we are not speaking up about what we need to be speaking up about God.
I must ask God for revelation for those around me.
I must ask God to use me as a channel through which He can be heard.
I must ask that He would empower me with His Holy Spirit to be radically used by Him.