I have been doing a lot of reading about the role of a king and the role of a priest and how they are so dependent upon each other. It is really eye-opening when you see that the Bible gives us some clear examples of this dynamic and instructs on the importance of each to the other – the fact that one can’t do their part successfully without the other, should make us look at why God felt the need to explain it to us more than once and yet we still haven’t quite got it figured out.
Read Ezra Chapter 7 now.
Ok, Let’s look at what it meant to be king and what it meant to be a priest.
- Destroyed God’s enemies.
- Took spoils of war.
- Paid tithes and offerings to the priests.
- Governed the physical affairs of the nation.
- Carried the responsibility of hearing from God.
- Offered sacrifices for the people.
- Received tithes and offerings from the people.
- Cared for the house of God.
- Cared for the stranger at the gate.
- Spoke encouragement to the people before the battle.
Priests provided vision; kings provided provision. The two together made a divine coexistence and mutual respect was born out of mutual need. The priests could either bless or curse the kings so the kings wouldn’t dare harm the priests, but the kings also provided for the priests, so the priests didn’t dare not provide the vision for the kings.
It is really important to understand that one DOES NOT exist without the other.
In Ezra 7:13-26 Artaxerxes writes this letter:
From Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the teacher of the law of the God of heaven. Greetings.
“I decree that any of the people of Israel in my kingdom, including the priests and Levites, may volunteer to return to Jerusalem with you. I and my council of seven hereby instruct you to conduct an inquiry into the situation in Judah and Jerusalem, based on your God’s law, which is in your hand. We also commission you to take with your silver and gold, which we are freely presenting as an offering to the God of Israel who lives in Jerusalem.
“Furthermore, you are to take any silver and gold that you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the voluntary offerings of the people and the priests that are presented for the Temple of their God in Jerusalem. These donations are to be used specifically for the purchase of bulls, rams, male lambs, and the appropriate grain offerings and liquid offerings, all of which will be offered on the altar of the Temple of your God in Jerusalem. Any silver and gold that is left over may be used in whatever way you and your colleagues feel is the will of your God.
“But as for the cups we are entrusting to you for the service of the Temple of your God, deliver them all to the God of Jerusalem. If you need anything else for your God’s Temple or for any similar needs, you may take it from the royal treasury.
“I, Artaxerxes the king, hereby send this decree to all the treasurers in the province west of the Euphrates River: ‘You are to give Ezra, the priest, and teacher of the law of the God of heaven, whatever he requests of you. You are to give him up to 7,500 pounds of silver, 500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550 gallons of olive oil, and an unlimited supply of salt. Be careful to provide whatever the God of heaven demands for his Temple, for why should we risk bringing God’s anger against the realm of the king and his sons? I also decree that no priest, Levite, singer, gatekeeper, Temple servant, or other worker in this Temple of God will be required to pay tribute, customs, or tolls of any kind.’
“And you, Ezra, are to use the wisdom your God has given you to appoint magistrates and judges who know your God’s laws to govern all the people in the province west of the Euphrates River. Teach the law to anyone who does not know it. Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.”
If you are a king (symbolic of a market place position) then you should fulfill your role in making provision. If you are a priest (symbolic of a full-time ministry position) you should fulfill your role in providing vision so that when king and priest meet – working together; work/business is blessed to prosper and vision is resourced, social action is empowered and reward is experienced. God and His commandments are literally seen working out through Christian faith as we merge the “because we can” with the “look, here’s a need”.
I was talking to a very close friend of mine over the weekend about the phrase “because we can” – it lives in the core of my church: Hillsong London. I was explaining to him that it simply means: I will because I can. If there’s a need and I can – I will!
I told my friend though, that I had to take a journey from: “because we can – should I?” to “because we can – I will”. The difference is now I don’t think about whether or not I will, if I can – I just do. I know my role. In these moments someone has provided a vision and I am able to provide provision. If neither one understood the role; vision would never see the light of day.
I want to challenge and encourage you today. God never intended for everyone in His church to be a priest and because we have been taught that way for many years, we now lack the kings we need for long-range planning and long-range provision. We are a bit like a 3-legged stool with one really short leg – we’re not very balanced right now.
The kings in the Kingdom are severely underdeveloped and priests tend to create vision much faster than they can create provision. A priest may hear or see the vision sooner than others but as everyone knows, provision is what makes the vision happen. If the priests spend too much time talking about the lack of provision instead of communicating what the vision is; the kings, already underdeveloped, become alienated, feel guilty and remove themselves from the equation, seeing the vision as “the priests” instead of as God’s. We must work together to get God’s will done, keeping it in our focus that we have to do our part, not someone else’s.
If we can coexist as kings and priests – equal in importance and relationship, we can build the temple, destroy the enemy, take the spoils of war, provide for the people, care for the house of God and care for the stranger; ultimately hearing from God and showing God to those around us.
Be blessed, stay strong and live in His grace.