Aloha Friday Message – May 12, 2017 – Stones and Thrones

1719AFC051217 – Stones and Thrones

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E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!)

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I want to begin with a little story that circulates around the Internet from time to time. Here we go:

In a particular small country, there was a king. He was much beloved of the people, and so they built for him a castle. But they were poor people and could only afford to build it out of grass. So they worked for weeks, and finally completed a lovely woven-grass castle for him. And the king was pleased.

Another country, significantly richer than the first, presented a peace offering of an ornate throne. The king accepted this gift graciously and was most pleased. The only trouble was, the throne was very uncomfortable. So the king got himself a more comfortable chair and stowed the massive throne in the attic. Naturally, it fell through the floor and killed him.

The moral of this story: People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.

OK, OK, that’s really bad; but I use it to help illustrate what is important about being a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. The parody also reminds us of the old adage People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. This is taken to mean that we should not criticize others if you have similar weaknesses yourself, or it could also be “don’t act aggressively in a fragile structure.” Today we are looking at the idea of a priestly kingdom, and where there’s a kingdom, there’s a throne. We’re also looking at the idea of The Stone the Builders Rejected and the Apostle Peter’s challenge to be “living stones.” It’s part of this same chapter in the First Letter of Peter: 1 Peter 2:4-5 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Taken together, this opens into an opportunity to speak about three distinct roles in Jesus’ life which become roles taken on by believers who are baptized into the Kingdom and become the kind of Servant Leaders God has envisioned for his People. It is the three combined roles of Priest, Prophet, and King that Scripture shows us. Now, you won’t find that phrase in one line in any Scripture, but you can find them listed separately in 1 Kings 1:32-45. We know that at least these three roles were part of governance in David’s time, but we also can find those roles individually defined elsewhere in Scripture. Do you want to see where they are? Come along then. We’ll start with the order in which these are introduced in Scripture.

The first person designated in the Bible as a Priest is King Melchizedek of Salem in Genesis 14:18 18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. We’ve mentioned this previously as presenting a Type (a foreshadowing) for Jesus as well as a source of the name of God which is El Elyon – God Most High. There are many kings named before Melchizedek is named, but he is the first Priest noted. His name translates as “king of righteousness.” In this passage, Melchizedek brings out bread and wine as an offering to El Elyon. That is what Priests so – they sanctify – set aside for holy purposes – ordinary things that are used in service to a deity. They serve others by being servants of “that higher power” in a community of believers. Priests are also set aside – sanctified – and serve as the bridge between humanity and deity. For example, the next Priest mentioned in the Bible after Melchizedek is Potipherah priest of On. His daughter was given as a wife to the Patriarch Joseph. Priests are persons who have “access to deity.” Sometimes, as with Melchizedek, they are Priest and King. And sometimes the King was also a Prophet.

Now, Prophets have an interesting reputation. Let’s face it, when we think of prophets, we think about predicting the future. There some humor in that, too. Let me show you just a couple: Do Camp-Meeting Revivalists depend on high-volume prophets? Could the spaces between the texts on the Dead Sea scrolls be considered prophet margins? Is Jean Dixon a paper prophet? Are seminaries prophet-making organizations? OK, enough of that! The thing is, the main job of a Prophet is to announce the Word of God. A Prophet speaks on behalf of God. When you hear someone start out with “Thus saith the LORD God …” you know you’re going to hear Prophecy because Prophets Prophesy. Take note of the spelling differences. A Prophecy is a statement spoken by a Prophet in and through the authority of God through the action of Prophesy. A Prophecy is a teaching from God through the Prophet to the People so that the People know what God expects of them. Sometimes the Prophecy Prophesied about an event in the future – as in Ezekiel 34:15 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. This portion of Ezekiel’s Prophecy begins in verse 11 when he repeats the command he was given by God – 11 For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. That is a teaching to Israel about the Shepherd God is sending to them in the future. Jesus is the object of that prophecy. King David also gave us many prophecies about the Messiah. You can see more about that here. David was a King and a Prophet, but he was not a Priest and King like Melchizedek. Both men were kings, so we should also look at the role and purpose of a king.

A king is the ruler of a kingdom; we all know that. There’s a pretty impressive list of ancient kings at the beginning of the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. You can find that in Genesis 14:1-10. Historically a King had complete dominion over a kingdom. He was the ultimate authority and the source and summation of all governmental actions. He may have been supported in that role by a court (courtiers), and army (warriors and soldiers), and even “wise men,” magicians or shamans who advised him on the guidance of their gods. The King is Lord and Master of land, sea, sky, and People. Jesus teaches us that A True King is the servant of his people and must use his power, wisdom, and courage to keep the people safe. Many biblical kings failed miserably at that, and Israel paid the price for their selfishness and cruelty.

Let’s put these all together now – Priest, Prophet, and King. Jesus is certainly a Priest in that he served God above all others and has Perfect Access to God in his own right. (See Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:17 He made the ultimate offering to God for our sin – himself. He is a Prophet because everything he told us was from his Father. (See John 5:19 and John 12:48-49). Jesus is the King of kings; as God, he alone has the ultimate authority to rule the universe he created. He is leader, prime mover, law-giver, and judge.

As believers in the Christ of God, we have a Priestly access to God our Creator through the One Mediator (See 1 Timothy 2:5-6). We, too, can offer ourselves as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” (See Romans 12:1) We are called apart, sanctified by the Blood of the Lamb, to serve God in our service and example to others. (See Matthew 5:16) We are participants in that priestly kingdom and a holy nation.

As Prophets, we are graced with the opportunity to speak The Word of the Lord in our hearts and minds as well as in the hearts and minds of others – our families, communities, churches, and workplaces – through example and testimony. In Numbers 11:29, Moses scolds the Israelites, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” Later the prophet Joel speaks in God’s way and says, “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.” (See Joel 2:28-29) We are the recipients of that Spirit of the Living God. In the Spirit of Prophecy, we teach our children and each other as witnesses to “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (See John 14:6) The Old Testament word for prophet is nabiy’ {nah-bee’}. There are some disagreements among scholars about the origin of that word, but one that is well-accepted is that this noun comes from the verb noba` meaning to “bubble up,” “boil over” as in “to pour forth an abundance of words,” such as those who speak within divine inspiration. It is by and through the power and inspiration of God that a prophet speaks, and a prophet can’t help but speak when and what God commands any more than a boiling pot can stop bubbling. And that is the key. Those who have Divine Inspiration are True Prophets. The converse is that those whose “inspiration” is self-generated are the False Prophets. By and through Christ, we can teach what God inspires in us, and are truly Prophets. (See more here) But are we also Kings?

Are we given the responsibilities of leadership, judgment, rule-makers, and progenitors in our families and communities? Consider these passages:

Ephesians 2:4-7 , Acts 6:1-6, 2 Chronicles 19:6, Matthew 4:17, and especially these – Revelation 1:4-6 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:15-16 15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. We are anointed – consecrated, sanctified, set aside – to serve God by serving others. How can we fulfill these three roles? What is it in us that makes these roles even remotely possible? Would you be surprised that it is stone that makes this possible?

Psalm 118:22 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  Jesus quoted this in Matthew 21:42, Peter quotes it again in Acts 4:11, and we’ve already looked at 1 Peter 2:4-5. What does this mean? It means we are “a chip off the old block.”

We see that Jesus is the living stone rejected by the builders. In Ephesians 2:17-20, Paul concludes we are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. As Peter told us, he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from zao {dzah’-o}. Zao is the verb “to live,” and zaonta is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from, in, and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind! We are stone-upon-Stone. Stones thrown up are weapons for destruction. Stones laid down are tools for construction. We are stone like the corner stone – cut from the same quarry and shaped by the Master Builder. The Holy Temple we are part of is the House of the Living God built with Living Stone that has Life Everlasting. It’s a great place to stow thrones, because every occupant is Priest, Prophet, and King.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

Share-A-Prayer
I’m asking all of you to join us in prayer for a member of our Parish and School, JF. She rides her bicycle to and from school where she is a Kindergarten teacher. Several days ago she was riding home and was struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver. Among her many serious injuries is a crushed pelvis. She’s going to need prayers and financial assistance to help her recover.


 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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