During the season of Advent we are reminded of how our Savior came to earth through His chosen mother, Mary, who was part of the nation of Israel. The Lord's plan was that He would have a people who were set apart from the rest of the world. They were to be consecrated as holy to carry and deliver His presence to the world that was in desperate need of a Savior. He chose the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) to be His and established this nation with instructions on how to live in His ways. Israel's first responsibility was to minister to God and then they were to demonstrate His love to other nations so that they too would want to be part of God's family. As a branch is grafted into a root, we who have accepted Jesus as our Savior have been grafted into the root of Israel.
God's plan to bring heaven to earth started with a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Unfortunately, the descendants of these patriarchs were enslaved in Egypt so that God raised up a deliverer in Moses. He began to display His miraculous power as they were delivered and as Moses was leading them into the Promised Land. He gave instructions to Moses on how His people were to live in the form of the Ten Commandments. Then He instructed him to build a tabernacle and a chest made of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold that would house the Testimony (Ten Commandments). The chest was called the ark and was a symbol of God's presence. It was holy and was housed in the "Most Holy Place" of the tabernacle.
The cloud of God's presence rose from above the ark and went before the Israelites. When the cloud moved the Israelites move. God made it clear that only Aaron and his sons, priests from the Levite tribe, could carry the ark to a new resting place when the cloud moved. They were to carry it by poles that were in rings attached to the ark. The poles would rest on their shoulders as they moved. God told Moses, "I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites...The Levites are mine." "Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death." (Exodus 3:10,12) Aaron and his sons were consecrated (set apart) to serve the Lord as priests. Blood sacrifices—burnt and fellowship offerings—were made before the Lord in a seven-day ordination ceremony. (Exodus 29:35) Sacrifices had to be continually made by the priests so that they were able to carry the ark of the Lord's presence. Their job included not only carrying God's presence but delivering God's Word to the people.
Fast forward with me to the time when God ordained that His Son would come to earth. Just as He selected consecrated priests to carry His Presence in the ark, He needed a human ark, so to speak, to hold and carry and eventually deliver His Presence. As we know, He selected Mary, a virgin from the tribe of Judah, to do this. God sent His angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she had found favor with God and would carry God's son, Jesus. (Luke 2:1-7) Mary humbly stepped into the role of a priest, sacrificing her life so that she could carry and deliver God's Presence on earth. In Mary's song she glorifies God and recalls the mercy He extends to those who fear Him. She also tells about how God kept His promise to Abraham and his descendants.
God commissioned both the Levitical priests and Mary to carry His Presence. He chose to dwell in the temples of men. He still does it today. We are part of the priestly order of individuals who have been commissioned to carry His Presence and to deliver/reveal the fullness of God's glory to those around us. It requires us to draw increasingly closer to Him and to sacrifice our life styles in order to live in accordance with His standards. As priests we are to be intercessors for others and to be deliverers of God's Word. We are the ones that make the God of Israel accessible to the people of the nations. When we present the Word of God in its fullness we are revealing a mystery of God (Christ) that is written about in Colossians 1:26-27. "God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." We carry the glory of God, dear ones. Remember this truth and live to reveal His glory.
Joan E. Mathias