God’s Royal Priesthood (4)

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” 

Thus we sing. 

But just what do we mean by that? 

Do we mean by this to exhort others to praise God? Or is there implied in these words the thought, “I will praise God from whom all blessings flow”? It does make a great deal of difference. 

It is, in fact, a rather stirring and vigorous hymn which we sing as a doxology to God. It has power, and it ought to be sung as a song of praise and not as a wail of complaint. How pathetic it sounds when a congregation drags this song of praise along, sings listlessly and with little enthusiasm. There is something wrong, radically wrong, when that is the case. Listen to the singing in your church this coming Sunday. Is it sung as a song of praise? Is there a vibrant sound of joy and enthusiastic faith in it? It makes no difference whether the congregation sings it at the beginning of the service in anticipation of the message of the glorious gospel of Christ or afterward. It makes no difference whether we begin our worship of God with these words or bring our worship service to a close with this song of adoration to God: lift it up and sing it from the regenerated heart. 

“Praise Him all creatures here below.” 

Indeed, but then do it yourself likewise. For as God’s royal priesthood your calling is to show forth His praises. Let no church choir rob you of this wonderful experience and joyous calling of praising that God from whom all the blessings you enjoy also flow. You sing it! Sing it in anticipation of the day when in the Hallelujah Chorus of heaven you will lift it up in the new creation with perfect pitch and rich harmony with those whose sanctified tongues and pure hearts shall vibrate and throb with love and adoration to this thrice Holy God. Never mind the fact that now your voiced is cracked and unmusical as far as the judgments of men are concerned. You sing to God and not to men. And He hears the song of the heart. Because He forms a people unto Himself to show forth His praises, He will one day give you a beautiful voice and a perfect sense of pitch in order that the new creation may echo and re-echo His praises from east to west and north to south and reach into the highest heavens. But today, you do that with the voice and talents He has given you! 

Praise to God is your calling as His prophet. “ 

But do we praise Him? We ought to look a little closer at the matter. After all, singing His praises—wonderful and pleasant though it may also be for the regenerated believer—is only a part of that whole prophetic phase of our threefold office. We will have more to say of that presently when we consider also that confession of Him before men with word that is not song, and that speech unto God Himself in prayer which also is praise. But at the moment we wish to point out that behind all this singing, praying and confessing is our calling ever to be learning. O, indeed, the prophet in this life must ever be learning, learning to know this God Whom he is to praise. How could Moses ever speak to Israel and teach God’s people His ways in the wilderness if he had not been called to the burning bush and on top of Mt. Sinai to learn from the mouth of God the truth which he was to teach unto God’s people? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and all the minor prophets had to learn the truth themselves before they could impart it to the Church. God comes to His people through the minds, the tongues and the hands of these men even today. They first learned the truth from the mouth of God in direct revelation. Only that which they learned could they speak at that time to the Church and write by infallible guidance for the Church of God throughout the ages. They could not be prophets to teach and praise God except in the way of listening to God speak. And no different it is with you and me. Because our fathers and mothers from our early infancy, because our former pastors and Christian school teachers taught us from the Word of God, we know this God from whom all blessings flow, and we know Him as the One from Whom ALL blessings flow. We are able in principle to praise Him now in this life in the measure that we listened to this truth concerning God when we were taught in ages past. The prophet in the Old Testament was not a know-it-all. He knew much. But he knew nothing of himself. He had to listen carefully and faithfully to the Word of God. And you and I in our prophetic phase of our threefold office of being God’s royal priesthood likewise had better listen carefully. 

That means first of all that we are faithful in our church attendance and attention. Attention without attendance is impossible; but attendance without attention is worse than foolish. Woe unto Moses if at God’s command he does not climb Mt. Sinai to receive revelation from the living God! But woe unto today’s prophet also, if he turns a deaf ear to the God of heaven and earth when He begins to speak, or else if he sets himself in a comfortable position to sleep before the face of God! We want to begin here because these are some of the most glaring and serious defections to be found in the flesh of God’s royal priesthood. 

We find all kinds of excuses for not attending the divine worship services and deliberately fail to prepare for it already on Saturday evening. We wear ourselves out, stay up unusually late—after all we do not have to go to work tomorrow—and either oversleep, feel too tired to get up, have a self-inflicted throbbing head, are “under the weather” or a host of other Sunday ailments which cure very rapidly as soon as the Sabbath sun sets in the west, or divine worship services are over. Shame on us! Let us hear the words of Jesus, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. Do not argue with Him. What is your chief interest will also receive your chief attention. Acknowledge then the fact that the world means much more to you than the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. Do not add to your sin by hypocritical denial of what is so obvious to man and crystal clear to the all-wise and all seeing God! 

That means also our youth! 

With all the freedoms and facilities of roaming around and speeding here and there on Saturday night, they are ill fit for giving attention to the Word of God on the Sabbath, even if they are robust enough and physically competent to attend divine worship services. What a tragedy! What a shameful picture to see strong, vigorous young men and women, the youth of God’s Church, children of the King, His royal priesthood with clear minds and many talents, sleeping before His face!! Moses was told at the burning bush to take off his shoes for he was on holy ground. We call our places of divine worship God’s House, and we confess that we are before His presence. For us it is holy ground. And dare we sleep? Are we not rather afraid that the very holy ground will open up and swallow us up in a moment? 

Nay, Wake Up! Listen to that which the Spirit hath to say unto the churches. And by all means go to bed exceptionally early then on Saturday night to be able to stay awake. You are His prophet. Listen to the revelation He has given of Himself, that consciously and willingly with a heart of joy you may praise this God from whom all blessings flow.

And then, too, there are those other things of the flesh that we deliberately seek before the kingdom of God. To such a great extent we also go out from the principle of our flesh, which is part of the world, that says, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” One of the family has to stay home Sunday morning so that we may have a delicious meal prepared when we get home. Surely with a “pious” face we dare to say, Yes, but the services are so close together, and we have to travel quite a distance to and from church. We do not have much time between services, and I like a warm meal. This I cannot get during the week and this is the only time I can have it. Indeed, and so there must be the denying of God His demand that on the Sabbath we worship Him. He had better not be so exacting with us! At least we are bold enough to tell him—by our actions, of course, not with our lips—His worship and His service better suffer a little bit too. However, we wish to add, do not be surprised if He does not agree with you. Because He IS God, He has a way of being very unyielding and of insisting that He is sovereign in all His ways. Get you up to Mt. Sinai to hear what He has to say! Get you with your whole family to the holy ground where He will reveal Himself in the Son of His love! And be sure that HE does not want you there because He has been pleased to make it impossible, before you come to the conclusion that your place as His prophet is not the sanctuary where He will speak through His servant. There are, of course, legitimate reasons for remaining home. But they are then reasons that are rooted in the fact that God makes it impossible and not that man finds it inconvenient. 

Nor is this all. Besides attending and paying attention to this official preaching of the Word of God, the prophet of God will have his own private devotions, reading of the Scriptures, study of the truth, reading of religious material. He will shut off his TV set and cancel his bowling alley reservations and open his Bible to see what God has revealed therein. In order as prophet to be able to say to his children and to the gainsayers, “Thus saith the Lord,” he will first study to find out, What saith the Lord? How little of that there is today. The world crowds in upon our lives, and there is so little interest to learn the truth and to delve more deeply into it. Societies for the study of God’s Word have only a skeleton membership of the congregation. 

Something is wrong! My brethren, these things ought not so to be! Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together for the study of God’s Word. The day will soon be here when we will be denied this privilege. And then God’s prophets who will have to speak, will feel greatly disqualified to oppose the wicked world. 

And remember that there is profit in being God’s prophet. By His grace He will reward in the life to come those who praise Him and testify of Him. And in this life there is also profit. The comfort, the joy and peace of salvation, tasting and seeing that God is good is the reward in this life for those who listen to Him and receive into their minds the truth which He speaks. There is indeed profit to the prophet who walks in His fear. 

—J.A.H.