MANY SHADOWS AND TYPES
IN THE PRIESTLY MINISTRY
TO A WANDERING PEOPLE
IN THE WILDERNESS
I Corinthians 10:1-10
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat of the same spiritual meat. And did all drink of the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that ROCK That followed them, and That ROCK was Christ. But with many of them, God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent, we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day 23,000. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer."
The Aaronic priesthood ministered to a blessed people. They had been saved from the slavery of Egypt (as we have been saved from the slavery of sin). They had left the bitterness of bondage behind them. Through the supernatural work of God, they were delivered. Triumphantly, they walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. This was the beginning of a new, and blessed existence.
Egypt is a type of sin. Crossing the Red Sea is a type of the separation of the old life of slavery to sin. We, in Christianity have left the bondage of sin, and the penalty of sin behind us. If we do not go back to that vile place of sin and slavery, we are on our way to a blessed promised land, as were these Israelites.
These ones in the desert, found victory in every trial. When they needed food, God began to send manna, the food of angel's six days a week. When they became short of water, the Lord turned the bitter waters to sweet. The new convert today, likewise finds that the Lord will solve the greatest problems. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous," but the Lord will "deliver us out of them all." God plans places of refreshment and spiritual blessing along the way for converts.
These travelers to the promised land saw the very glory of God. They had a cloud by day, and a fire by night - to guide them, shade them, and warm them. The law was given upon Mt. Sinai, and it revealed to them the things that displeased their God. This was to guide their actions, and make them a people that did please God. The plans for a tabernacle were given to Moses while upon that mountain. This was to show them the way of salvation, when they failed the law of God. God knew mankind could not stay free of sin, but wanted to make a way of restoration back to His glorious presence for these wayward people.
Leaving sin is not enough. God wants to bless us, to guide us, and to reveal Himself to us. There is a promise of the glorious presence of God for every saint today. We can have His blessed presence, and share in its uplifting might and joy on a daily basis. Far too many saints today have become "dull of hearing" of His voice, and blind to His wondrous works in their lives. The Lord has not left us here to simply await heaven, and to fight sin... we are here to live God-filled, God-blessed, and God-empowered lives.
These people under the Aaronic priesthood came to a place of decision. God brings all converts, church congregations to a place of decision. Israel came to the border of the promised land at Kadesh-Barnea. From that location, twelve spies were sent in. Ten returned with a message of fear. Disillusioned, Israel wandered about the desert for 38 more years. Two of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb, passed the test, but they were destined to wander with the ones who failed, until they all died. Finally, thirty eight years later, Joshua and Caleb could enter the promised land in victory.
Today, we face many times of decision also. God brings us to a place of testing and - if we fail - we wander in circles also. Many church congregations are wandering in circles. They may pray for revival, and God will begin to answer that prayer... and bring them to the border of great revival. Then comes the TEST. Many congregations fail that test. They go back to wandering about spiritually. We cannot have the revival, the blessings and the promises of God... if we fail the tests of God. If we refuse His way, and refuse to face issues. God will allow us to die in the wilderness... very near to the blessed land of revival.
The priesthood of the Old Testament period ministered to this sort of people in that day. Paul, in Corinthians, says they were examples for us... and tells us that many today are in similar tests, trials, and blessings. We are not unlike the people of that time. The church congregations are coming alive, the revival of the latter rain is stirring the congregations. Yet, there is still the test of "Kadesh-Barnea" to be faced.
We, in this priesthood of the New Covenant, are to intercede for this kind of Christian. It is a challenging, difficult, and disillusioning task. These people for whom we intercede, and the people to whom we minister... are a people with:
As the people in the wilderness, "fell a lusting" after the food of Egypt, so many saints today retain the desires for the things of the old sinful life, from which they are now to be free. The saints in the Old Testament tired of manna, which God had provided. Many today tire of Bible study, prayer, church attendance, Christian fellowship, worship, and want to go back to old habits, sinful practices of the past.
Just as Lot's wife looked back to the old homestead, the place of sin and degradation that God was destroying... with a look of love she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. The Word of God reminds us to "REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE." because it is a sin that tempts many of today's saints.
Life in the desert can be difficult, as it was for the children of Israel. Life in this world can also be difficult for the saint. Yet, we, as they, have a promised land to anticipate. They doubted God's goodness, and ability to give them that land. Many today tire of the struggles, impatiently begin to have second thoughts about the promises of God... They will sometimes then revert back to the sinful practices of the past...
While Moses was still on the mountain receiving the law and the plans for the tabernacle, the people fell into a terrible sin. They began to worship an idol. How surprising for a people who had just seen the waters of the Red Sea part for them, and drown all the Egyptian army. They had seen the manna fall daily from heaven. They had seen the fire by day, and the fire by night lead them. Yet, they failed. They began to worship an idol, the golden calf.
Anything that takes the place of God in our lives is an idol. For some it is sports, work, money, vacation, family reunions, prestige, education... People tend to think that "the Lord delayeth His coming" (Matthew 24:48) and to live as though they had much time to repent later. They allow these things to have first place in their lives. They allow the cares of this life, the materialism of success, and the pressures of the peers and family of this world to distract them from the Lord.
In Numbers 25, the children of Israel are seen having immoral relationships with the Midianitish women. They were dwelling too close to world, and they tampered with sin. Many died from the plague caused by this sin.
When Moses had first read to them the commandments, they had said, "We will do it!" Yet, when the testing times came, they failed, they sinned, and they were unfaithful to the God who had saved them. Like many today, the unfaithfulness to the commands of the Lord, plagues many. God is very angered at the sins within His people.
OPPOSED GOD'S LEADERSHIP
I Corinthians 10:9
"Neither let us tempt Christ."
To "tempt" means to "test". They tempted God when they "spake against God, and against Moses." (Numbers 21:5) They complained against the conditions, against the leadership of the Lord. They looked about them for human leadership, but God wants to be our leader. In the same way, the Lord is to be our leader, and when we seek guidance from other sources that Jesus, we are in grave danger.
Jesus dwells within us, and has sent the Holy Spirit to speak His words to us... Why do we run to others for guidance. Surely the Lord places pastors, teachers, prophets, etc amidst us to aid, but their aid is supposed to be to help us find the answer in the Word of God, and from the Spirit of the Lord. Too many "saints" are trying to make themselves to be lords. Too many want to rule the church, the church people. Too many are trying to replace Jesus as the shepherd of the flock.
When this happened in the Old Testament, the ones who opposed the leadership of the Lord were swallowed up by the earth. At another time, the serpents came and bit them, causing pain, sickness, and death. Another time, leprosy afflicted the one who opposed God's leadership.
Complaining about the way in which the Lord leads us will lead to rebellion. When God sees that we are not satisfied with His leadership, because it may lead down stony paths, or take us to dry deserts, or make us stay in lonely valleys, He is angered.
Israel murmured almost constantly. At one time, they said:
"Would to God, that we would die in this wilderness."
God answered this prayer. We need to beware of our murmuring, our words of despair, discouragement, and hopelessness... God may answer those prayers... When Korah murmured, the earth swallowed him alive... When others murmured about what had happened to Korah, a plague followed. A Christian today - who murmurs - is in danger of judgment also.
God provides for His people. He has made provision for us, as He had for the people of the old covenant.
DIVINE GUIDANCE IS OFFERED
"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, and to lead them by the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night."
God wants to lead and guide His people. God willingly offers us the Holy Spirit to guide us. When we listen to family, to friends, to others who want to be our shepherds... we will find problems. When we stay sensitive tot he Spirit's guidance, when we risk all to follow wherever He leads... we will find victory.
DIVINE NOURISHMENT OFFERED
"Then said, the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go our and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no."
Jesus is our manna, He is our Bread of Life. We feed daily upon Him, or at least we should. The Word says that the gift of manna was a test... to see if they would daily obey the Lord. If we do not daily feed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, we are failing the test. How hard is it to daily come to the spiritual table of blessing...??? Yet, many saints do not, and spend days, many days sometimes, between spiritual feedings. We may feed on this supply, or not. We may choose to seek sustenance from others, from things, from man's praise, from family, from the applause of this world... but none of these truly satisfy. Only the Lord Jesus will satisfy our spiritual hunger.
DIVINE REFRESHING IS OFFERED
"Thou shalt smite the ROCK, and there shall come out of it, that the people may drink."
"If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink... He that believes on Me, as the Scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water. (But this spake He of the Spirit.)"
The Holy Spirit is offered to all saints, and yet many will neglect this wondrous gift of the Lord. They wander about in thirst spiritually, and never are satisfied, refreshed, and rejuvenated by the Spirit. What a foolish neglect of many today.
A PRIESTHOOD OF MEDIATORS IS AVAILABLE
In the center of the camp of the Israelites, was a place of sacrifice. There at that tabernacle, were priests. They offered to mediate the sacrifice for any who had sinned, or had special requests from God.
God has an intercessory priesthood today for sinners. We are all to be priests to God.
I Peter 2:5,9
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood... ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood."
"But ye shall be named the 'Priests of the Lord'."
We, as the priesthood, must be intercessors. We should "pray for one another". It is not an easy vocation. It is a ministry for a wandering, rebellious, murmuring, critical, cowardly, failing people. The priesthood of believers minister to a people much like the people to whom Moses and Aaron ministered. What a challenge. What a task. Certainly we need the help of the Lord!