The Work of the People

This year, I’ve been reading the Eastern Orthodox Study Bible that my good friend Alan bought me.  I like this Bible because it is an updated English translation of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) as the orthodox hold it, and not the Masoretic text, as their “sacred.”  I am very excited about this fresh perspective on the Old Testament.  So, here is my first post of “stuff that I get from this book.”

In numbers 1:50, God tells Moses to take a census of the Levites so they can “minister unto the Lord.”  The Septuagint uses the Greek word “leitourgountwn” (this is a transliteration as I can’t find the Greek font on this new fangled wordpress thing) and it means liturgy or the liturgical ministry.  The orthodox commentary states, “The word liturgy means ‘the work of the people'”.  The usage of this verb is telling.

After the exodus, God wanted to make Israel a nation of priest and prophets to minster liturgically unto Him. (Exodus 19:6)  However, the people rebel and Levi was chosen (Exodus 32).  So, the Levites were called upon to do what the people should have done and thus, the priesthood was born.  But this was not the Lord’s original intention.

Again, with the inauguration of the New Covenant, God intended for all of His people to minister liturgically to Him. (I Peter 2:9)  We see this played in Acts 13:2 as the same Greek word is used here as was used in Numbers 1:50.  The church at Antioch was ministering to the Lord with prayer and fasting.  It was the people who ministered to God, not a special social class of folks identified as clergy.  It was all the church ministering unto God not seminary graduates.  It was this ministry that birthed the first evangelical mission of the Apostle Paul.  He and Barnabas were commissioned as the people ministered to God.  That’s what New Covenant Christianity is all about.  Once the people of God took their rightful place as minister unto God, the priesthood would no longer be necessary.  Messiah would be the High Priest and all of us His ministers.  And yet, a class of clergy continues to exist in every single Christian denomination doing the work that the People of God ought to be doing!  Why?  There are probably two reasons

First, the people of God continue to live in rebellion and this continues to necessitate a  priesthood to do the ministry unto God.  Secondly, clergyman are not quick to release the power and control that comes with positions of authority, respect, and esteem.  Nonetheless, I say, it is time for the people of God to minister unto Hims with prayer and fasting as the church at Antioch did in Acts 13.  It was the work of the people, their liturgical ministry unto God as priest and prophets that birthed that first apostolic ministry.  It is time for the church of God to again birth Apostles through its own work unto the Lord.