Monday, February 2, 2015

The Levitical Priesthood vs. The Royal Priesthood: Part 2

The last time, we learned how the garments of the Levite priests in the Old Testament coincides with the armor of God for the saints within the royal priesthood in the New Testament.  Now, on to something a little more sensitive….alcohol consumption for the Christian.  Is it ok?  First, I want to make clear that I am not looking to cast judgment or cause divisiveness.  I just want to compare Scripture and leave you to answer the question.  Now, let's take a look…

We have seen how the Levitical priesthood easily compares to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  So much through God's Word is inter-related.  Of course it is - God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Blood has to be shed for the forgiveness of sins.  In the Old Testament, it was the blood of animals.  In the New Testament, it is the blood of Christ.  But, the shedding of blood is a constant. We no longer have to follow the law to be redeemed, but we do find in the law many principles to be followed to lead a holy life.

It is with these thoughts that I contemplated Leviticus 10:8-10:

And the Lord spake unto Aaron saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, or thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die:  it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generation:  And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.  

The Lord gave this command directly to Aaron while many of His commands for the priesthood were relayed through Moses.  Aaron and his sons, as well as the following generations of priests, were not to drink strong drink in the tabernacle.  God does not give any other reason for this command other than it would be separating the clean from the unclean and the holy from the unholy.  We see in other areas of the Old Testament, as well as in our own life experiences, that alcohol impedes judgment and changes behavior, usually for the worse.  God's priests were to be holy, pure and wise in His presence.

We no longer have a physical temple in which God dwells.  When we ask Christ to cleanse us from our sins, His Spirit comes to dwell in us, making each of us a temple - God's temple.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Just as Aaron was not to defile the Old Testament temple, we are not to defile the temple of our bodies in which the Spirit lives.  This is the argument against Christians drinking alcohol.  However, many contradict this point  with the following verses:

…use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.  -I Timothy 5:23

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  -Ephesians 5:18

Those who use these verses say that alcohol consumption is acceptable as long as we do not get intoxicated; that there's nothing wrong with a glass of wine or a couple of beers.  Some will even go so far as to claim Paul suggested it according to I Timothy 5:23.  However, it is common knowledge that most medicines contained alcohol up until just a few decades ago.  Even herbs had to be preserved in an alcohol solution.  Yet, we are not discussing medicine - we are discussing a glass or a bottle of strong drink as a beverage.

As members of the royal priesthood and as actual living temples containing the Holy Spirit, we are to be holy.  We need to separate ourselves from the unholy and keep ourselves clean, just as Aaron and the other priests were commanded by God.  Will we be struck dead by God if we decide to drink?  Probably not. However, as His priest, we are holy and we are commanded to act holy:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood… -I Peter 2:5

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.  -I Peter 1:15-16

God desires we be a peculiar people and that we sanctify Him for His glory - just as the Old Testament priests did. If we truly want to live a holy life, a clean life, I would have to conclude that this would entail abstaining from certain lifestyles and actions -

Including the drinking of alcohol.
Including gluttony.
Including slander.
Including covetousness.
Including gossip.

And the list goes on.

Yes, we have liberty in Christ.  Yes, we live in the age of grace. But that only means we are free from having to perform sacrifices as Christ is our Sacrifice.  It means we cannot lose our salvation.  It means we can actually choose to be unholy, yet still go to heaven if we have accepted Christ.  It means that even if we disappoint or disobey our God, He will continue to love us and accept us in His Home.  But, do we really want to do that, after all He has done for us?

We are His chosen and we are His royal priesthood.  Be holy.  Be peculiar.  Separate yourselves from what is unclean.  Because that is what our God has asked us to do.

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