THE SPIRITUAL HOUSE, THE PRIESTHOOD
The next point that we must see is in 1 Peter. Here the Apostle Peter tells us that Christ is the living stone, and we are the living stones. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4, 5, lit.). We know that stones in the Bible signify material for building. Christ is the living stone, and we are the living stones to be built into a spiritual house. This spiritual house is the priesthood. I appreciate the King James Version in this verse. It puts a comma after “spiritual house” to show that the spiritual house is the priesthood. “Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.…” This proves that the priesthood is the spiritual house, and the spiritual house is the priesthood.
In 1966, when we covered the matter of the priesthood (The Stream, Vol. 5, No. 4 through Vol. 6, No. 4), we pointed out that in the New Testament, the word “priesthood” has two different meanings. First, it means the priestly service or priestly ministry. Second, it means a priestly body or a body of priests. In English there is only one word, but in Greek there are two different words with these two different meanings. In Hebrews 7, the word “priesthood” signifies the priestly service or office. But the word for “priesthood” in 1 Peter means the priestly body or body of priests. The spiritual house is not the priestly service, but a priestly body. It is a corporate entity. The priests built up together are the spiritual house. This is the meaning of the word “priesthood” here.
The priesthood in the New Testament is different from that mentioned in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the priests built up together are the tabernacle. They are the spiritual house. In the typology of the Old Testament, it is rather difficult to put these two together. Hence, in the type, the tabernacle and the priests are two categories of things. Actually these two categories typify one thing in two aspects, that is, God’s building which is the tabernacle, the house of God. This house is built up with the priests who are the living stones. We are the priesthood, and we are the living stones. When we are built up together, we become a body of priests, and this is the priesthood.
THE DIET OF THE PRIESTHOOD
In Leviticus, we see that the priests lived mainly on the meal offering. Their entire existence depended principally upon the meal offering. The priests are the boards of the tabernacle standing up, and they exist by feeding on the meal offering, which is just the fine humanity of Jesus. Today as the priests, we are the boards of the tabernacle, but to stand up we must feed on the humanity of Jesus. It is not enough to feed on Jesus as the Passover Lamb or as the heavenly manna. Feeding on Jesus as the heavenly manna is only sufficient to maintain us in the wilderness. To be the standing boards in the tabernacle, we need the humanity of Jesus as our daily food.
Suppose that not one of the Israelites offered the meal offering, and the priests did not receive anything as a meal offering. This would put the priests upon a starvation diet; they would not have their proper food. The food of the priests is not ordinary food, but quite extraordinary; it is the meal offering. If in the church there is a shortage of enjoying Christ’s humanity, the local church will be extremely weak. If all the members enjoy Christ merely as the slain Lamb and as the heavenly manna, but do not enjoy Him as the meal offering, all the boards will not be standing but fallen.
We may have some knowledge of the Bible, and we may have some gifts; we may even have a certain measure of spirituality; but if we are not enjoying the humanity of Jesus, we are simply fallen. We have nothing which is able to support us. The only thing that can make us stand up is the humanity of Jesus. This has been lost and neglected by Christianity for centuries, but I do believe the Lord is going to recover it. This is what is needed for the church life. The tabernacle is composed mainly of the boards, and the boards are the priests, who can exist only by feeding on the meal offering. We are the priests, the boards, the materials for building up the local church. We do need something to feed on in order to stand up—this is the humanity of Jesus which is the meal offering.
Let me illustrate again. Suppose all the Israelites had offered only the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering, without presenting the meal offering. I do believe many priests would have starved. This is the situation of today’s Christians. They appreciate the Lord’s death on the cross as the sin and trespass offering; they enjoy peace with God through Christ as the peace offering; but they have no experience of the meal offering. They simply do not have this kind of apprehension or understanding. This is why there is little building up of the church among Christians today.
The church is the house of God. It is today’s tabernacle and is composed of the boards standing up. The standing boards are the priests, who can exist only by feeding on the meal offering. This means that for us to be the boards for the building up of God’s tabernacle, we must feed on the humanity of Christ. Without the meal offering, there can be no standing boards for the tabernacle, and the whole tabernacle will fall apart. This is the situation today. We may have the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering, but without the meal offering we have nothing to support the priests who are the standing boards. The real support is the priestly food of the meal offering. Only the humanity of Jesus is the priestly food capable of supporting the priests as the standing boards. We all must pray that we may experience and masticate the humanity of Jesus. We will then have something of His humanity to bring into the meeting and present to God as the meal offering. This meal offering will be the priestly food to so many priests among us, enabling them to become the standing boards. Something will then be built up as the tabernacle, and God will have a dwelling place.
ONE NEW MAN
Eventually we come to the new man in the book of Ephesians. To see this new man we must read both Ephesians 2:15 and 4:24. “Having abolished in His flesh the law of commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, making peace…And have put on the new man, which according to God was created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” The church is a new man, and as a man it requires the proper humanity, the new humanity, which is just Christ. We must put on the new man, which means we must put on the humanity of Jesus.
Ephesians 2:15 says that Christ has already created the new man, and then Ephesians 4:24 tells us to put on the new man. Let me illustrate it in this way: Christ has already accomplished redemption, but we must apply this redemption to ourselves. This means we must put on His redemption. If anyone would not apply or put on this redemption, it will not affect him in any way. It is the same principle with the new man. The new man has been created, but we need to put on the new man and apply to ourselves what Christ has created on the cross. The way to put on the new man is simply to enjoy the humanity of Jesus. By partaking of the humanity of Jesus day by day, we are putting on the new man.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)