God has determined the Messianic reign should be expressed in its various dimensions by the primary institutions of Church, Family and State. Last week we considered the prophetic manifestation of Christ's rule; it is important to understand Jesus' voice as prophet in this age issues forth from His corporate Body the Church. On the other hand demonstrating the priestly aspect of the Kingdom of Heaven is primarily a familial responsibility.
Priestly duties include headship, sacrifice, cleansing, and nurture. In this age the final fulfillment of all blood sacrifice has been realized in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:23-28). In Him, the sacrificial system has been fulfilled. No longer is blood sprinkled before the ark of the covenant in a copy of the Holy of Holies; instead the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world has been presented once and for all in the true Holy of Holies located in the heavenly realm. Thus our priestly duty of sacrifice is confined to the presentation of ourselves as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12 :1), which is our praise (Hebrews 13:15): dying to self, living for Christ and serving others in imitation of our Lord Jesus.
Although each Believer has a duty to express the priestly character of the kingdom, this office is best accomplished within the context of the family. Indeed, the most profound exposition of the priestly function is illustrated by the Apostle Paul in his description of the marriage relationship.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:23-27, ESV).
This is the highest expression of the priestly character within the Messianic reign - and probably the most neglected. Here we see all of the elements of the priestly office in action: headship, sacrifice, cleansing and nurture. A husband is to provide leadership to his wife (and children). He is to love her self-sacrificially, esteeming her more highly than himself, providing for her and protecting her. A husband sanctifies his wife and cleanses her through teaching her the doctrines of the kingdom and by modeling Christ-likeness. He nurtures her as he superintends her process of Christian maturation that he might present her to himself "in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."
Unfortunately the majority of Christians believe this pastoral role is the duty of the Church and the local pastor. This is one reason for the feminine character of the modern Church. Instead of teaching men how to lead and pastor their own families, local ministers often direct their efforts at women and children. This usurps the role of the husband and short circuits the priestly function of the family. Furthermore, when the Church is primarily focused on the pastoral role, the prophetic voice of the Messiah is silenced.
As a result, Christian families are often unable to demonstrate the priestly aspect of Christ's rule within their sphere of influence. Husbands do not lead, wives are discouraged and children grow up to leave the faith.
One consequence of this malady can be seen in the continuing plague of abortion (click to hear the January 18, 2009 sermon on this topic). Many local Churches falter in their prophetic duty and fail to take a strong stand against the murder of the unborn. Many Christian families are too weak to minister to those with an unintended pregnancy. Clearly, now is the time for change.
Next Week: The Messianic Reign as King
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