Today’s message summary of September 24, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:
What is it to be a saint of God? A saint is one who is consecrated to do the work of God. It is to be an adopted son or daughter of God. This, along with the title of being a priest of God, are all descriptive of people who are followers of Christ. These are all names, but each one of them means something. As a saint, you are to live in holiness. As an ambassador, you are to proclaim Christ wherever you go. You should know the reason and the purpose behind these names. As a priest, you are a servant of God. You are part of a royal priesthood before God in your service to Him. With this representation comes responsibility.
You are someone that God chose to represent Him and to live for Him. God is not here to serve us; instead, we are to serve Him.
The Levite, in service for God, had to make sacrifices in order to serve Him appropriately. God has to be first in your life. In order to be a priest, there cannot be anything that gets in the way of your dedicated service for Him.
In picking up where we left off before, we were discussing the importance of sound teaching. Teachers are important. We need to be mindful of the fact that Satan also teaches, as well. He teaches others those things that are contrary to the ways of God. He desires to get people off course in the service of God. He will divide people and cause derision.
He named the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites complained, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
The word of God is more important than any family relationship, and it may even divide family members. When you want to draw near to Christ, someone may try to pull you away from Him.
The focus must be to remain of God, His covenant and to serve His people, just as the Levites were to do.
He said about Levi:
Your Thummim and Urim belong to your faithful one;
you tested him at Massah
and contended with him at the Waters of Meribah.
He said about his father and mother,
“I do not regard them.”
He disregarded his brothers
and didn’t acknowledge his sons,
for they kept your word
and maintained your covenant.
They will teach your ordinances to Jacob
and your instruction to Israel;
they will set incense before you
and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
Lord, bless his possessions,
and accept the work of his hands.
Break the back of his adversaries and enemies,
so that they cannot rise again.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works for 40 years.
The character of a priest of God is something that requires time and building of one’s character. Teachers must instill the principles to build the person up. The teacher must take their role very seriously. He is to teach God’s precepts and standards, and not his own way of thinking.
Now if you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law—you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal”—do you steal? You who say, “You must not commit adultery”—do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.
Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That person’s praise is not from people but from God.
In order to be an effective teacher, the student must have the desire to learn.
Additional characteristics of the character of a priest:
Abishua’s son, Phinehas’s son,
Eleazar’s son, the chief priest Aaron’s son
—came up from Babylon. He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he requested because the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Some of the Israelites, priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and temple servants accompanied him to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.
Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, during the seventh year of the king. He began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month since the gracious hand of his God was on him. Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.
This is the text of the letter King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest and scribe, an expert in matters of the Lord’s commands and statutes for Israel:
Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens:
I issue a decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including their priests and Levites, who want to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. You are sent by the king and his seven counselors to evaluate Judah and Jerusalem according to the law of your God, which is in your possession. You are also to bring the silver and gold the king and his counselors have willingly given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, and all the silver and gold you receive throughout the province of Babylon, together with the freewill offerings given by the people and the priests to the house of their God in Jerusalem. Then you are to be diligent to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, along with their grain and drink offerings, and offer them on the altar at the house of your God in Jerusalem. You may do whatever seems best to you and your brothers with the rest of the silver and gold, according to the will of your God. Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles given to you for the service of the house of your God. You may use the royal treasury[c] to pay for anything else needed for the house of your God.
I, King Artaxerxes, issue a decree to all the treasurers in the region west of the Euphrates River:
Whatever Ezra the priest, an expert in the law of the God of the heavens, asks of you must be provided in full, 22 up to 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of oil, and salt without limit. Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven must be done diligently for the house of the God of the heavens, so that wrath will not fall on the realm of the king and his sons. Be advised that you do not have authority to impose tribute, duty, and land tax on any priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.
And you, Ezra, according to God’s wisdom that you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to judge all the people in the region west of the Euphrates who know the laws of your God and to teach anyone who does not know them. Anyone who does not keep the law of your God and the law of the king, let the appropriate judgment be executed against him, whether death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king’s mind to glorify the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and who has shown favor to me before the king, his counselors, and all his powerful officers. So I took courage because I was strengthened by the hand of the Lord my God, and I gathered Israelite leaders to return with me.
When you are in the midst of doing God’s work, God will provide all that you have need of to accomplish what you need to do.
- Ezra was a teacher.
- Ezra devoted himself to study and observance.
- He devoted himself to teaching God’s decrees.
Note that he was doing all of this while he and his people were in captivity. The king had granted everything that he had asked for. He even saw that God’s hand was upon him.
A believer who is devoted to serving Christ will live it out before others. A priest is driven and devoted to His Word and searches Him out in order to develop a close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
With sound teaching, everything is put in its proper place as a priest who serves God and others. You are always ready to do what God has called you to do.