PASTORAL RESPONSIBILITY AND PRIVELEGE

The Law is the foundation of our behavior patterns for all time.  Through the bible both testaments echo the spirit of the law, as well as the letter of the law.  The law is not about liberty though; it is of bondage because our nature is unable to comply.  It is both life and death at once.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people:  But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother.  And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.  But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.  They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.  They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.  Leviticus 21:1-6

Here the priesthood is commanded to avoid dead people as well as animals, except for family funerals.  They are not to cut their hair or trim the beard excessively either.  In addition to the priesthood of Aaron, there would be another group set aside for holiness later on.  The Nazarites also had a special separation, or sanctification.  It is similar to that of the priests.

All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.  Numbers 6:5

The famous Nazarite was Samson of course, who let this secret slip to his regret later.  Again in the New Testament, church leaders are also called to be different from the rest of the people. 

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 1 Timothy 3:1-5

These are no longer rituals of strict observation, but guidelines to wisdom.  In Christ, we have a desire to do well in our heart, living with the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  We don’t need the threats of death or illness as punishment.  We give of a willing heart now.  Still we have to remember the serious responsibility we have accepted in leadership. 

Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.  1 Timothy 3:6-10

A leader or teacher is not to be a new untrained Christian.  He should be known and have a good reputation with everyone.  They need to be serious, truthful and sober.  They must be free of the love of money and without guilt.  After they have been proven over time they are eligible to lead.  A pastor must consider this before appointing new leaders too.

They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.  Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.  And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.  Leviticus 21:7-9

Duh…Do I have to TELL you that you should not marry a whore, pastor?  Under the law not even a divorcee!  Some denominations enforce this even today.  And a daughter who goes whoring is to be burned alive.  God is making a serious warning to his people in this law.  It remains serious in the New Testament church today:

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.  1 Timothy 3:6-10

Some say that having an ex-wife is the same as having more than one wife.  Many others allow their pastors a little grace over a past marriage.  The point is that leaders today have to measure up to high standards.  Being successful as the head of your own home is the first step.  Your partner is a vital key to that success.

And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;  Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;  Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.  Leviticus 21:10-12

Again, the priest has a duty to God that is higher than his family role.  A family funeral could not cause the contamination of he who must intercede for his people.  A similar command applied to the Nazarites.

All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. Numbers 6:6-7

Jesus required a similar sacrifice of his disciples.  But in this case he refers to the family as being spiritually dead too. 

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach thekingdomofGod.  And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for thekingdomofGod.  Luke 9:59-62

We must recognize the contamination that comes from contact with the world of unbelievers around us.  We have a responsibility to intercede for those lost sheep who are already called by the Lord’s predestination.  We cannot sacrifice the sheep for the goats.  Our priority is to the children of faith, not to the unrepentant.  We cannot begin the work of ministry and then wish to go back to the world of Egypt.

Samson was a Nazarite from birth as the angel of the Lord told his mother.  He was required to be different from other Jews.

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.  Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:  For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.  Judges 13:2-5

So the priests and the Nazarites are set apart to a stronger set of rules under the law.

And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.  Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.  Leviticus 21:13-15

Again the holy man must wait for a righteous partner, of the Jewish race and faith.  His children too must be holy before god who set them apart.  The priest himself must even be free of physical defects as he handles the show bread in the temple. 

Our famous Nazarite, Samson, could not be satisfied with a nice Jewish girl.  He paid a big price for his taste in women.  But Solomon had the same problem, many times over.  How ironic that the law was impossible for everyone.  The strongest and the wisest men of history could not walk the line.

Today we may marry outside our own race, but not outside our faith.  Being grafted by faith into the family of Abraham, all Christians are of the same race and religion. 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  2 Corinthians 6:14-18

God has given us warnings with serious consequences.  But he has also given us promise of unimaginable rewards.  There is a good life on this earth and beyond if we accept his salvation from the law that condemns us.

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