Why We Should Be Gluttonous Priests
by Joseph Franks
As one makes progress through the Old Testament, one is struck by the number of sacrifices prescribed in the opening chapters of Leviticus. Depending on the sin, the day, the purpose, and the financial position of the worshiper, cows, sheep, goats, turtledoves, pigeons, grain and corn were to be selected, sanctified, slaughtered, and sacrificed. Most students of Scripture are fairly informed as to this Old Testament form of worship. However, less understood is what happened to these items after they were set ablaze on God’s altar. A designated portion was consumed by the fire, but the rest was grilled and served to the priests for their consumption. This sacrificed meat, grain and corn were “a most holy part of the LORD”s food offerings” (2:10), and it was desired by God that his Levitical priests would be blessed and nourished by his sacrifices.
For those familiar with Genesis and Exodus, this eating before God is nothing new. Holy communion is consistently presented as an element of God’s regulated worship. Abraham dined with Melchizedek, and then later he ate a meal with the three heavenly beings. In Egypt, all Israel ate of the Passover Lamb while God’s judgment was poured out upon their neighbors. On every Sabbath day, Israel partook of holy manna within their individual tents. Upon reaching Mt. Sinai, Moses, Joshua and the seventy elders were treated to a holy feast on God’s mountain. When Moses descended from Sinai, he brought with him instructions from God regarding seven feasts that were to be perpetually observed. He also brought with him the instructions for acceptable sacrifice and Levitical dining. Occasionally, all Israel was to feast before the Lord. But regularly, the Levitical priests were to partake of this glorious privilege. They were to daily be fed, satisfied, nourished and encouraged by the sacrificial offering of the Lord.
This theme of dining with God continued into the New Covenant era. In the upper room, Jesus partook of the Last Passover and the First Lord’s Supper. On that night he distributed bread and wine, related these items to his body and blood, and commanded his priestly-apostles to eat, drink and pass along this tradition. Regularly, his church was to feed on Christ. Regularly, they were to be blessed and nourished by the sacrificial offering of the Lord. The Apostle Paul understood the significance of this meal, and he instructed the Gentile Corinthians to partake rightly and regularly. (1 Corinthians 11) That which was first practiced by the Levitical priesthood, and then later practiced by the priestly-apostles, was to be practiced by Gentile, Corinthian Christians. He understood the ceremonial distinctions and the Levitical priesthood were no more; all believers were one with Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:30) In similar manner, Peter proclaimed that all Christians were Christ’s holy or set apart people; they were his royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) Moses had predicted this, for in Exodus 19:6 he proclaimed God’s intent — all Israel was to become a “kingdom of priests.” Then, the Apostle John, who received a revelation from Jesus, proclaimed that believers were kings and priests who had been chosen and called to rule and reign with Christ. (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) In the New Covenant era, only one High Priest remains. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the Pope. But also, in the New Covenant era, a kingdom of priests remain. All believers who are married to Jesus Christ are anointed, set apart, called and commanded to come and regularly dine in God’s presence. All those in Christ are called to be encouraged and nourished by the sacrificial offering of the Lord.
And then comes the end. Christ promises he will return. When he does, he will take all his beloved to his heavenly house of wine. There his bride will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. There they will imbibe from cups which are running over. There they will feast as if at a great marriage banquet. Forever they will be in the presence of the Wine-Maker and the Bread of Life. A buffet of blessing will be the norm.
Therefore church, do we find ourselves hungry and malnourished today? If so, do we have ourselves to blame? If we are hungry, should we not feed upon Christ? Wherever we are, we can feed on Christ through prayer and the study of God’s Word. Then regularly, we can gather together with our Christian family and feed on him through corporate worship and the ceremonial meal. As the stomach is filled with bread and wine, so the soul is filled by the Spirit of Christ. However, in order to be encouraged and nourished by food, one must open his mouth and eat. Friends, in order for us to be thoroughly filled by Jesus Christ, we must find the Lamb of God and open our souls. We must dine on our knees, in the book, at the worship service, and around the table. Christ will make us full, but we must open our mouths and dine. Let us not be malnourished. Let us not suffer from a spiritual eating disorder. Let us be gluttonous on Christ until we can say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, my Sheep and my Sacrificial meal; and now I want no more.”